Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court is a high profile case that will set the standards for wage and hour law. While the outcome of the case may benefit numerous employers by clarifying the gray areas of California wage and hour laws, Brinker Restaurant Corp. has been through a nightmare with the class action lawsuit that has been dragging on for years.
What if this were you?
Brinker Restaurant Corp is no small employer. Best known for its franchise brands, Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant, Brinker has more than 1,500 restaurants in 32 countries worldwide, and employs over 10,000 people.
Hopefully Brinker’s international success can afford it the lawyers it needs to keep this 3-year case going. The outcome of this lawsuit will clarify the issue of what exactly is an employer’s obligation to provide meal periods to non-exempt employees.
Even though Brinker can afford a team of lawyers and Human Resources specialists, its knowledge of wage and hour law was still fuzzy enough for them to be faced with a class action lawsuit.
The case stems from a law that states, “no employer shall employ any person for a work period of more than five (5) hours without a meal break of not less than 30 minutes . . . .”
Brinker, like many employers, interpreted this to mean employees who work more than 5 hours get a meal period and employees who work more than 10 hours get a second meal period. However, the plaintiffs in the case argue that an employee who works over 5 hours is entitled to a second meal period, and if the employer did not provide one, the employee should be entitled to a one-hour penalty.
Fuzzy interpretations of the law is the reality in California. Wage and hour laws are numerous, complicated and ever changing. For the very reason that most employers are not legal experts, 6 out of 10 restaurant owners will face employee lawsuits this year.
Scary, isn’t it?
So what can you do to protect yourself and your restaurant?
The cost of a lawsuit is very high, and we don’t want to even imagine what Brinker’s costs are for the past 3 years of legal defense. An average restaurant owner faced with these types of charges would have to file for bankruptcy.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) provides protection from claims against employees, former employees, and potential employees. It covers discrimination, sexual harassment, and other legal action that arises from employment practices.
You should get an EPLI policy as soon as you intend on hiring an employee. Your restaurant can be vulnerable starting with the pre-hiring process, so it is best not to take the risk. Also, most investors and directors require it since they can be held liable in these types of suits.
If you would like to learn more about Employment Practices Liability Insurance for your restaurant in California, call (800) 331-4700 and ask to speak to our restaurant specialist.
Invensure is here to help. We will help protect you from employee lawsuits, and hopefully you can avoid a nightmare like the Brinker Restaurant Corp. is going through. Call now.