Michael S. Kun, Member of the Firm, and Carly Baratt, Associate, in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Los Angeles and New York offices, respectively, authored an article in Hospitality Law, titled “Calif. Employers Can Place Conditions on Meal Benefits.”

Following is an excerpt:

The Ninth Circuit recently considered in Ro­driguez whether Taco Bell’s on-site meal periods for employees who purchase discounted food run afoul of California’s meal period laws.

The Ninth Circuit first found that Taco Bell’s discounted meal policy did not interfere with its employees’ use of break time or require the em­ployees to serve Taco Bell’s interests during meal breaks because:

  1. The program was voluntary (employees could eat full-price meals anywhere).
  2. The policy’s requirement that discounted meals be consumed away from work areas actu­ally prevented participating employees from work­ing while eating.

The court rejected the plaintiff employee’s con­tention that Taco Bell employees who purchased discounted meals were under Taco Bell’s “con­trol,” distinguishing the policy from those where employees cannot conduct personal business.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Rodriguez indicates that employers can place conditions upon receipt of certain meal-time benefits without violating California law as long as participation is voluntary and the employees do not have to perform duties during meal breaks. However, employers must be mindful that Rodriguez is a federal court decision with no binding effect upon the state courts — and it is certainly possible that a state court could reach a different conclusion.


Jump to Page

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.