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On-call rest periods violate California employment law

When employees who have been abused or mistreated by their employers file a lawsuit, they do more than create an opportunity for themselves to recover financial losses. Lawsuits that deal with critical areas of employment law, such as paid and unpaid break times and employee accountability during unpaid rest periods, can set precedents that helps others.

When judges must carefully consider the legal argument for or against a particular employment practice, their final decision can have a powerful impact on the rights of other workers in the future.

Because precedents can alter employment practices or employee rights, lawsuits can help improve working conditions for everyone in the state. If you believe your employer violated your rights because of on-call break times or a similar practice, you should speak with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible.

Mandated "on call" rest periods violate state laws

In a recent court decision, ABM Security Services was found to be in violation of their workers' rights when it came to breaks. Specifically, the courts found that it was inappropriate for the employer, AMB Security Services, to expect its security officers to remain "on call" during their rest periods. They were expected to carry their radios and pagers while on break and respond to any calls.

A group of security officers brought a civil suit against ABM for denying them their legally protected rest periods. A jury trial found in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding them a cool $90 million.

The Court of Appeals reversed that decision, forcing the issue all the way up to the Supreme Court of California. The Justices of the state Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appeals court, ending the issue in favor of the plaintiffs. After reviewing state and federal laws about rest period, the California Supreme Court found that during breaks and rest periods, employers must relinquish all control and free their employees from any duties, responsibilities and obligations. Failing to do so essentially means the employees are not truly on break.

If you work for a company in California that engages in similar practices, you should consider speaking with an experienced employment law attorney.

Your break time activities cannot be employer mandated

In order for your break and rest times to qualify as such under state law, your employer must release you of all responsibilities during that time and allow you to decide how to spend that time. Mandating that you remain accessible by phone or email may violate your rights as well. If you believe your employer is engaged in inappropriate break and rest time behaviors, you owe it to yourself and your coworkers to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. If you don't stand up for your rights, chances are that no one else will! 

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