California Supreme Court’s Brinker Decision Clarifies Employers’ Obligations Regarding Meal and Rest Breaks

by Sayema Hameed

On April 12, 2012, the California Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated decision in Brinker Restaurant Corporation et al. v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum) (Cal. Sup. Ct. Case No. S166350).  This case concerns a class action for failure to provide meal and rest breaks brought by non-exempt employees against defendant Brinker Restaurant Corporation, which owns and operates restaurants throughout California including Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy.  The Supreme Court’s decision is important in clarifying an employer’s obligations under California law with respect to providing meal and rest breaks to employees.  In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held as follows: