California Court of Appeal Overturns $90 Million Award Against Security Company Regarding On-Duty Rest Breaks

Recently, a $90 million award against ABM Security was overturned by a California appeals court after the court found that the facts of the case were indisputable. The security company provided security guards with regular rest breaks, and the guards took them. In question was whether it was lawful for the security company to require the guards to leave radios/pagers on during these breaks, in addition to responding to security issues as needed while on break.

Essentially, plaintiffs in the case, which went to trial almost three years ago, claimed that ABM Security was not in compliance with California law because the company required guards to remain “on call” even during rest breaks. Plaintiffs maintained that during rest breaks, they should be relieved of all duties and not be required to respond to security issues, or leave pagers and radios on during these breaks. Following a lengthy court battle, plaintiffs in the case, Augustus v. ABM Security, which included thousands of former and current security guards with the company, were awarded a summary judgment.

The appeals court found that while meal breaks, or breaks that are unpaid, do not require security guards to remain on call, rest breaks do not require that employees are relieved of being on duty, only that security guards are relieved of performing actual work while on rest breaks under state law. The appeals court determined that being on call did not mean that employees perform work, however being available to work was not one and the same as performing actual work. The Court also noted that security guards for ABM engaged in activities such as making personal telephone calls and surfing the Internet while on rest break.

Ultimately, the California appeals court specified that meal breaks required that guards or employees are relieved of all duty in regards to work, while the definition of rest breaks contained no similar language.

What did this mean for employers? The bottom line is that while Department of Labor Standards Enforcement opinions and prior court rulings do not agree in regards to the extent of control employers have over employees during rest breaks, employers are not required to relieve employees of all duties during these breaks, but cannot require that security guards or other employees perform actual work.

As experienced Los Angeles employment lawyers, we realize the issues employers face in regards to employment policies and issues. For unsurpassed legal guidance and support, trust the skilled and dedicated staff at Spotora & Associates.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 at 1:49 pm and is filed under Business & Corporate Law, California Law, Litigation, Tort Law. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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