SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The California Supreme Court ruled in San Francisco today that workers who have 10-minute rest breaks must be given a full break from the job with no on-call duty.
"California law requires employers to relieve their employees of all work-related duties and employer control during 10-minute rest periods,"
Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar wrote in the majority opinion.
California law and state Industrial Welfare Commission regulations require one 10-minute rest period every four hours for employees who work more than three and one-half hours in a day.
The court issued its ruling by a 5-2 vote in a lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 14,000 present and former security guards employed by Houston-based ABM Security Inc. in California.
They said the company required them to keep their radios and pagers on during breaks and to respond to calls for help in situations ranging from escorting a tenant to a parking lot to handling an emergency.
The guards won a $90 million award in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2012. After an appeals court overturned the judgment in 2015, the guards appealed to the state high court, which ruled in their favor today.
The law and regulations require that "employers relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time, and relieve their employees of all duties -- including the obligation that an employee remain on call," Cuellar wrote.
"A rest period, in short, must be a period of rest," he said.
Justices Leondra Kruger and Carol Corrigan said in a dissent that ABM Security should have been given an opportunity to provide more evidence on what its policy actually was and whether that policy interfered with workers' ability to use their breaks for rest.
ABM attorney Theodore Boutrous said the company and its lawyers were "incredibly disappointed" by the decision.
"We are considering our options for seeking further review and relief. ABM has always been committed to providing its employees rest breaks consistent with the letter and spirit of the law," he said.