Rights of employees in California who work 7 days a week
Christopher Mendoza and Meagan Gordon are former sales associates of Nordstrom, Inc., a retail chain with locations throughout California. Mendoza and Gordon worked more than six consecutive days in a week with some shifts that lasted six hours or less. Both employees sued Nordstrom claiming that the employer failed to provide them the required day of rest, for working 7 days a week.
Under California law, employers are required to provide employees at least one day’s rest in seven. This applies to employees regardless of whether they are engaged by the day, the week, month, or year, and regardless of whether they work during the day or night. The law further adds that “no employer shall cause his employees to work more than six days in seven.”
However, in some cases, work of more than 6 consecutive days is allowed “when the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six hours in any one day thereof.” Work of more than 6 consecutive days may also be allowed if the nature of the employment reasonably requires that the employee work seven or more consecutive days, so long as each calendar month the employee receives days of rest equivalent to one day‘s rest in seven.
The case reached the California Supreme Court, which clarified the following issues:
Is the day of rest calculated by the workweek, or does it apply on a rolling basis to any seven-consecutive-day period?
A day of rest is guaranteed for each workweek (not per rolling seven-day period). However, periods of more than six consecutive days of work that stretch across more than one workweek are not per se prohibited. The Court noted that the Legislature has expressly defined a “week” and a “workweek” as any seven consecutive days, starting with the same calendar day each week. Thus, a week or workweek means a fixed and regularly recurring period, e.g., Sunday to Saturday, or Monday to Sunday, and not a rolling period of any seven consecutive days.
Does the exemption for workers employed six hours or less per day apply so long as an employee works six hours or less on at least one day of the week, or does it apply only when an employee works no more than six hours on each and every day of the week?
The exemption for employees working shifts of six hours or less applies only to those who never exceed six hours of work on any day of the workweek. If, on any one day, an employee works more than six hours, a day of rest must be provided during that workweek.
What does it mean for an employer to “cause” an employee to go without a day of rest: force, coerce, pressure, schedule, encourage, reward, permit, or something else?
An employer causes its employee to go without a day of rest when it induces the employee to forgo rest to which he or she is entitled. However, an employer is not forbidden from permitting or allowing an employee to voluntarily choose not to take a day of rest, so long as the employee has been fully informed of the right to a rest day.
Employees who work 7 straight days must be paid according to California’s principal overtime laws, which provide premium pay based not only on daily and weekly hours, but also on seventh-day work. For the seventh day of work, employees must be paid the first eight hours worked at the rate of one and one-half times the regular rate of pay (“time and a half”). Any work in excess of eight hours on any seventh day of a workweek shall be compensated at the rate of twice the regular rate of pay (“double time”).
The Law Offices of C. Joe Sayas, Jr. welcomes inquiries about this topic. All inquiries are confidential and at no-cost. You can contact the office at (818) 291-0088 or visit www.joesayaslaw.com or our Facebook page Joe Sayas Law. [C. Joe Sayas, Jr., Esq. is an experienced trial attorney who has successfully recovered wages and other monetary damages for thousands of employees and consumers. He was named Top Labor & Employment Attorney in California by the Daily Journal, consistently selected as Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine, and is the recipient of PABA’s Community Champion Award for 2016.]