Graniterock Win Keeps Off-Duty Meal Period Issue in the Spotlight
Posted by Bruce W. Woolpert on Mar 18, 2015
San Jose, Calif. – In Driscoll, et al. v. Granite Rock Company (“Graniterock”), the Honorable James P. Kleinberg of the Santa Clara County Superior Court, ruled in favor of defendant Graniterock, following a 14-day bench trial. In a tentative statement of decision, the court determined that Graniterock was not in violation of California law as it relates to off-duty meal periods, a wage and hour issue receiving much attention in light of the highly-anticipated decision in the case, Brinker Restaurant Corporation, et. al. v. Superior Court, pending before the California Supreme Court. Graniterock was represented by Shareholders Alan Levins, Laura Hayward and Alison Hightower of Littler Mendelson (“Littler”), the nation’s largest labor and employment law firm representing management.
“We are pleased with Judge Kleinberg’s ruling,” said Levins, the lead attorney on the case and a shareholder in the firm’s San Francisco office. “At the center of this case is the clarification of a critical wage and hour issue; that employers are required to make meal periods available to employees but are not required to force employees to take a lunch break.”
In this wage and hour class action case, the court considered the issue of whether the company adequately "provided" meal breaks to concrete mixer truck drivers. Graniterock contended that as long as a meal break is provided, the employee can voluntarily agree to waive the 30-minute uninterrupted meal period (similar to Brinker). Graniterock employees have signed on-duty meal period agreements described in California Wage Order One.
The plaintiffs, seeking more than $6 million dollars in restitution and penalties, claimed Graniterock failed to provide off-duty meal periods or to pay the plaintiffs one additional hour of pay in lieu of the duty-free meal periods. Counter to the plaintiff’s claims, the court heard testimony from 25 current drivers, the vast majority of whom stated that they were satisfied with their ability to obtain a meal period when they wanted one and often chose to work through lunch in exchange for premium pay and the possibility of leaving work early to attend to personal matters.
“Employers can become bewildered with California’s meal period regulations and settle their cases. The elements of proof needed are a clear policy providing meal periods, company-wide communication on this subject so that employees know their rights, and clear opportunities for individuals to express to the employer their meal period preference. The Littler team identified all of the elements well and then worked with us to convey the evidence to the court in the most effective manner,” said Bruce Woolpert, president and CEO of Graniterock, a 111-year old construction material supplier and contractor headquartered in Watsonville, California.
This case is another victory on behalf of client Graniterock. Last year, the firm secured a significant United States Supreme Court decision in the case Granite Rock v. the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters, which held that a dispute with respect to whether a collective bargaining agreement was ratified had to be decided by the federal court and not an arbitrator.
To arrange an interview with Alan Levins or Bruce Woolpert, please contact Laura Herbert at Formula PR, 212.219.0321 or Littler’s Director of Public Relations, Jennifer Klein, 310.772.7245.
About Granite Rock Company
Graniterock was founded on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1900, 111-years ago, and has 650 Team Members working in 26 Branch locations in California. Graniterock is the recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the NOVA Innovation Award, NAPA Paving Quality Awards, and has been included on the list of the Best Companies to Work for in America for a number of years. Littler has handled Graniterock’s labor law matters for forty years. For more information, visit www.graniterock.com.
With 852 attorneys and 52 offices, Littler Mendelson is the largest U.S.-based law firm exclusively devoted to representing management in employment and labor law matters. As the only U.S. member of the Ius Laboris global alliance, Littler has extensive resources to address the needs of multi-national clients, from navigating international employment laws and labor relations issues to applying corporate policies worldwide. Established in 1942, the firm has litigated, mediated and negotiated some of the most influential employment law cases and labor contracts on record. For more information, visit www.littler.com.
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