With Gonzales vs. Downtown LA Motors now the law of the land, employers’ hopes rest on the prospects of the California Supreme Court taking up review in Bluford v. Safeway Stores, Inc.
In Bluford, a class action lawsuit was brought on behalf of unionized truck drivers who worked throughout Northern California. Under the compensation plan agreed to at the bargaining table, drivers’ wages were based on a mileage rate for miles driven and different rates for other tasks, but there was no means for recording rest breaks. Employees were not paid a separate rate for paid rest breaks, and there was no indication on the employees’ wage statements that time spent on rest breaks would be paid. Safeway did attempt to ensure that its drivers took their breaks by requiring drivers to sign their trip sheets to certify that they were authorized and permitted to take their rest breaks.
The Court of Appeal held that even though Safeway had a policy to provide paid rest periods, under a piece-rate system rest periods must be separately compensated. Since Safeway failed to compensate employees separately for rest periods, the employer’s policy amounted to averaging hourly compensation and thus did not comply with California minimum wage law.
Safeway is seeking review of the Appellate Court’s decision and Western Growers will be submitting a letter supporting this petition for review.
Click here for an example of a policy addressing the issue of "non-productive" time for both hourly and especially piece-rate employees written by Rob Roy of the Ventura County Agricultural Association, with review and input provided by Carl Borden of the California Farm Bureau Federation, Terry O'Connor of Noland Hamerly Etienne & Hoss, and WG’s Jason Resnick.
Click here for a more thorough discussion of both the Gonzales and Bluford cases.
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