In Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC, the Supreme Court today precludes employers from using a rounding timekeeping method to establish compliance with state law that requires the provision of 30-minute meal periods after specified numbers of hours worked.  Workers who don’t get full and on-time meal periods are owed extra pay.

Recognizing a determination by the Legislature and the Industrial Welfare Commission that “infringements on meal period requirements threaten employees’ health and safety whenever they occur,” the court’s unanimous opinion by Justice Goodwin Liu explains that “[t]he precision of the time requirements” in the governing statute and IWC wage order “is at odds with the imprecise calculations that rounding involves.”

The court also adopts Justice Kathryn Werdegar’s concurring opinion in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004 in holding that “time records showing noncompliant meal periods raise a rebuttable presumption of meal period violations, including at the summary judgment stage.”

The court reverses the Fourth District, Division One, Court of Appeal.  It also disapproves a 2016 opinion by the same appellate court and a 2018 decision by the First District, Division One.