February 25, 2021
DONOHUE v. AMN SERVICES, LLC S253677
Opinion of the Court by Liu, J.
Under California law, employers must generally provide employees with one 30-minute meal period that begins no later than the end of the fifth hour of work and another 30-minute meal period that begins no later than the end of the tenth hour of work. (Lab. Code, § 512, subd. (a); Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage order No. 4-2001, § 11(A) (Wage Order No. 4).) If an employer does not provide an employee with a compliant meal period, then “the employer shall pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal . . . period is not provided.” (Lab. Code, § 226.7, subd. (c); Wage Order No. 4, § 11(B).)
In this case, we decide two questions of law relating to meal periods. First, we hold that employers cannot engage in the practice of rounding time punches — that is, adjusting the hours that an employee has actually worked to the nearest preset time increment — in the meal period context. The meal period provisions are designed to prevent even minor infringements on meal period requirements, and rounding is incompatible with that objective. Second, we hold that time records showing noncompliant meal periods raise a rebuttable presumption of meal period violations, including at the summary judgment stage.