Michael S. Kun, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice in the Los Angeles office, was quoted in a March 28, 2008 article in Employment Law360 on the potential impact of three key amendments to meal and rest break laws pending before the California state legislature.
The article, “Calif. Considers Laws to Curb Wage-And-Hour Suits,” explained that the most ambitious bill, SB 1192, aims to overturn the California Supreme Court’s decision last April in Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions, which ruled that the statute of limitations for meal and rest break claims was three years, not one, essentially tripling the amount of recovery employees could seek and giving plaintiffs’ lawyers even greater financial incentive to file such lawsuits .
Kun said that he has often seen employers pay settlements in meal and rest break class actions of up to $10 million, with plaintiffs ‘ counse garnering as much as $4 million. “These class actions over missed breaks are so appealing because unlike other class actions, you don’t have to prove intent,” he explained.
The potential recoveries in these case would be greatly reduced if SB 1192 and the other two amendments take effect, the article stated.
Kun anticipated that it would be difficult for the three amendments to be adopted, and that there was a mistaken sense that they were taking something away from employees. “If the legislature digs deeper, it will find that employees want flexibility in when they take breaks and how long they last,” he said.