One common source of PAGA penalties occurs when employers fail to authorize and permit the rest breaks that are required under California law. When this happens, workers can recover one hour of pay at their regular hourly rate for each day they are deprived of one or more rest breaks. They can also seek penalties under PAGA, as well as their attorney’s fees.
A recent decision by the Second District of the California Court of Appeal clarifies the timing of rest breaks, and whether rest breaks can be combined into a single break. Rodriguez v. E.M.E., Inc. (2016) 246 Cal.App.4th 1027 involved a class action brought by workers who paint metal parts manufactured in machine shops. The workers worked eight hour shifts, so they were entitled to two ten minute rest breaks. EME, the employer, required the workers to take their two rest breaks in one combined break that lasted 20 minutes.
The court looked closely at the language of Wage Order No. 1-2001, which provides as follows: