CAN FAST FOOD WORKERS SUE THE GIANT FRANCHISES THEY WORK FOR?

If you work for a restaurant – whether it a McDonald’s or the nicest steak house in town – then you have rights. If your employee rights have been violated while working for a restaurant, then legally protecting those rights can be a scary proposition. Most employees have no idea that their rights have been violated, and even if they do they can be too afraid to pursue legal options. Over the years in fact, most fast food chain and/or restaurant franchisee workers whose rights have been violated have not pursued their legal options. Why? Because they think they will not be able to prove the violations.

LET’S HAVE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE MANY TIMES WORKERS HAVE WON SETTLEMENTS AGAINST LARGE RESTAURANT COMPANIES

Here is a small sample of multi-million dollar lawsuits and settlements that large restaurant corporations have paid out to unfairly treated employees:

—- In 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of every single server and bartender who worked at restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday.The lawsuit alleged that Ruby Tuesday violated labor law by paying servers and bartenders and other restaurant staff below minimum wage.

—- In 2014, Outback Steakhouse’s parent company was sued in a wage and hour lawsuit. The legal action alleged that employees were asked to donate (as in work for free!) hours to the company. Eventually, Outback Steakhouse agreed to settle for $3 million.

—- In an earlier 2009 lawsuit, Outback Steakhouse agreed to pay more than $19 million in a sex discrimination lawsuit.

—- In 2016, McDonald’s settled a $3.75 million lawsuit claiming it had violated the rights of about 800 California restaurant workers.

—- Just last year, in 2017, the massive Mexican food restaurant Chipotle – with so many California employees – was sued. The lawsuit alleged that Chipolte did not pay overtime.

YES, A SINGLE EMPLOYEE CAN SUE A RESTAURANT

Let’s walk through one example of how you – as a restaurant employee – may be owed money after you have been fired or quit. While there are some exceptions, if you worked more than eight hours a day or more than 40 hours a week, then the restaurant you worked for must pay you an what’s called a “time-and-a-half” overtime rate.

If they did not pay you overtime, then you may be owed money.

In fact, there are many reasons a fired restaurant employee may be owed money.

YES – YOU CAN SUE YOUR EMPLOYER, NO MATTER HOW BIG

If you are a California employee, and your employee rights have been violated, you should not be afraid to contact an employment attorney. It is incredibly easy to contact a California employee rights lawyer that has experience protecting restaurant workers rights.

MOST CALIFORNIA EMPLOYEES DO NOT KNOW THEIR RIGHTS!

That’s the unfortunate reality. Most California employees think that just because they work in an “at-will” stare that they have no rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Learn more about your employee rights. Lawyers for Employee and Consumer Rights (LFECR) is a leading California employment law firm. With 40+ remote attorneys, LFECR is able to work on behalf of clients anywhere in California. Fired unfairly? Your free consult awaits! Call 888-625-0959. IM our Facebook page. Follow us on Twitter, IG, Medium, LinkedIn, or our blog. Have a great day!

 

WHILE MEAL BREAK MEANS MEAL, DOES REST BREAK MEAN REST?

California’s long-time ambiguity surrounding workers rights on meal and rest breaks.

It should be crystal clear…if you are on a meal or rest break, you don’t have to work.

Right?

Well.

It seems that here in California, with so many hard working employees, there is still some ambiguity regarding what an employer can or cannot require an employee to do during meal and rest breaks.

DID A 2014 CA SUPREME COURT DECISION MAKE IT BETTER OR WORSE?

– If you are on a meal break, and your boss needs you, are you obligated to respond?

– Are you obligated to work?

– Can your employer legally pull you off of a required rest break to work?

In 2014, the California Supreme Court decided that “Employers Must Relieve Employees of All Duty During Meal Periods But Need Not Ensure They Perform No Work.” In this decision, the Court noted that California employees must be “relieved of all duties” during their statutorily required 30-minute meal periods.

The specific questions came from a case called Brinker Restaurant Corporation v. Superior Court. The Brinker case was, at the time, one of many employment law based class action lawsuits pending in California. It centered on employees making the claim that the Brinker Restaurant Corporation had failed to provide the number of, and timing of, both meal breaks and rest periods as required by California state law.

HOWEVER, THE QUESTION REMAINED: DOES AN EMPLOYEE HAVE TO BE AVAILABLE TO WORK WHILE THEY ARE ON A BREAK?

In an effort to resolve ambiguity that arose from this case, and multiple others, the California Supreme Court further concluded that while an employer is required to dismiss an employee of all job responsibilities during a meal period (meal break), the employer does not have to guarantee that no work is done.

Thankfully, it seems that a 2016 decision by the same California Supreme Court MAY have clarified the, “Are employees on-call during a rest break” question…

On December 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court handed down an opinion in the Augustus v. ABM Industries case. Their decision, once and for all, answered this question:

“California law requires employers to relieve their employees of all work-related duties and employer control during 10-minute rest periods. The trial court’s summary adjudication and summary judgment orders were premised on this understanding of the law. Rightly so: Wage Order 4, subdivision 12(A) and section 226.7 prohibit on-duty rest periods. What they require instead is 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. A rest period, in short, must be a period of rest. We accordingly reverse the Court of Appeal’s judgment on this issue.”

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EMPLOYEES?

It means that all California employees continue to have rights. And most importantly, that all California employees have the right to ask questions about their rights.

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS?

Employee advocates are standing by.