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Taco Bell Wage Claim Continues On Smaller Scale

LOS ANGELES — Taco Bell Corp. employees are urging a California federal court to rule in favor of their class action claim. The employees are part of a certified “subclass” of a larger consolidated class action claiming Taco Bell violated California laws regarding meal breaks and overtime. The “subclass” was certified for their claim that Taco Bell’s policies prevented employees from taking meal breaks in accordance with state law. The employees are seeking summary judgment which means they believe they have provided enough factual information for the court to determine that there are no unresolved factual issues and the court does not need a trial to make a final decision.

 Many Classes In Class Actions

Overtime class action lawsuits frequently have more than one group of employees affected by a company’s policies. Because the same policies caused all of the damages, the court allows the employees to bring one class action based on the policies. The court then certifies the groups, or subclasses, separately based on the how they were affected by the improper policy.

In this case, two Taco Bell meal break and overtime lawsuits brought in 2007 were consolidated in 2009, but their requests for class certifications were not addressed until 2011. In 2011 and 2012, the court denied certification for classes based on unpaid vacation time and untimely payments and meal and rest period violations. However, in 2013 the court approved the current subclass related to late meal breaks after determining there was a common meal break policy applied consistently throughout the state. The subclass includes around 28,000 hourly employees working for the company from September 2003 to July 2013.

Meal Breaks and Rest Periods

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the primary federal labor law governing employees’ hours, wages, overtime, and rest periods, does not require meal or rest breaks. If an employer does provide rest and meal breaks, rest breaks that are less than 20 minutes should be paid. But extended rest breaks and meal breaks that are 30 minutes or longer may be unpaid. In order for meal breaks to remain unpaid, the FLSA requires meal breaks to be duty-free. This means the employees should not be required to perform any work or be on-call during this time.

Some states’ laws have stricter requirements for meal and rest periods. If the state law is more favorable for the employee, the employer must follow the state law. For instance, California’s laws require employers to provide at least a 30-minute meal break, if an employee works more than 5 hours in a shift. The meal break has to occur by the end of the 5th hour worked. In this case, the California Taco Bell employees claim the company’s policies did not allow meal breaks before the end of their 5th hour worked.

Missed, denied, and delayed meal breaks can lead to denied overtime wages. If you are a Taco Bell employee and you believe your employer owes you overtime wages, contact our knowledgeable team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation. Or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and our experienced legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.

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