California Supreme Court Defines Day of Rest Rule

California Supreme Court Defines “Day of Rest” Rule

There is no doubt California labor law is friendly to workers while placing corresponding obligations on employers. This is shown to be true time and again by the laws of California, state regulations, and how those laws and regulations are interpreted by the courts of California. One recent illustration took place when the California Supreme Court defined the meaning of California’s one day of rest rule.

That case, Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc., came to the California Supreme Court as a certified question from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The original case was filed against Nordstrom when two employees claimed they were forced to work more than California law allows, per California’s one day of rest rule. In answering the certification from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court answered three important questions:

  1. Is the day of rest rule to be applied once a week, or one day of rest in seven?
  2. Does the rule apply to workers who work fewer than 30 hours a week, or less than one six-hour shift in a week?
  3. What does the word “cause” mean under the law? Is it only when an employer forces an employee to work?

These questions have now been clarified, thanks to the Court’s opinion.

  1. Is the day of rest rule to be applied once a week, or one day of rest in seven?

In the opinion, the Court reviewed and went over the history of when this law was implemented, and the application of the law over the last century. Regarding the one day in seven rule itself, the court concluded that it means an employer is required to give an employee the option of one day’s rest in a calendar week. This does away with prior interpretations that required a day’s rest over a seven-day period on a rolling basis, leading to the concern that employers may now impose on employees’ schedules in which they may rest no more than one day in 12.

However, the Court explained that the statute still requires that over the course of every calendar month, an employee needs to receive the equivalent in total days of rest to one day’s rest in seven. Thus, if at one time an employee works every day of a given week, then he or she “must be permitted multiple days of rest in a[nother] week to compensate, and on balance must average no less than one day’s rest for every seven, not one for every 12.”

  1. Does the rule apply to workers who work fewer than 30 hours a week, or less than one six-hour shift in a week?

To answer the second question, the Court held the rule only applies in some situations. For example, if a worker works fewer than 30 hours in a week, then the rule does not apply. Also, if the worker works one shift of six hours or less in a week, then the rule does not apply.

  1. What does the word “cause” mean under the law? Is it only when an employer forces an employee to work?

To answer the third question, the court ruled that “cause” does not mean what Nordstrom argued it should. The court ruled that in this instance, “cause” simply means where an employer takes away the right of a worker to have a one day of rest in seven in any meaningful way. This does not mean the employer must force or require the employee to work—it simply means that the employer violates the law if the right to take a day of rest is not afforded to the employee.

Your California Labor Law Firm

This case is one example of the thousands of rules, laws, and regulations that affect doing business in California, because the state is friendly to workers, laborers, and employees. To ensure that you stay compliant with California labor law, however, you will need the right legal team on your side. At The Royse Law Firm we can help you and your company with all of your employment law needs. Contact us today.

Allison Kroeker
akroeker@rroyselaw.com
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