Following the CA Supreme Court’s long-awaited decision in Brinker last year, which I blogged about here, California’s lower courts were left to resolve the numerous meal and rest break cases that were ordered held pending the resolution of Brinker. Two of these cases received an extraordinary amount of press coverage, and both were ultimately decided in favor of California employers. Those cases are Lamps Plus Overtime Cases, 209 Cal.App.4th 35 (2012) and Hernandez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., 208 Cal.App.4th 1487 (2012). In both cases, the appellate courts denied class certification on the plaintiffs’ meal break claims and cited Brinker in support of that outcome.
Following these rulings, the plaintiffs in both cases petitioned for review to the CA Supreme Court. Yesterday, the CA Supreme Court denied review — which left the outcome of both cases undisturbed. However, the CA Supreme Court ordered both cases depublished. This is clear signal that the CA Supreme Court does not find the rationale from Lamps Plus Overtime Cases or Hernandez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. to be legally correct. Moreover, because both cases have been depublished, employers and their attorneys can no longer rely on these cases as binding authority in California. This effectively removes two weapons that were in California employers’ arsenal when confronted with costly class action lawsuits.