California statutes provide that employees are entitled to one day’s rest in seven and that employers cannot cause employees to work more than six days in seven. So just what does this mean? Are full-time employees entitled to one day of rest in each workweek or are employees entitled to one day of rest on a rolling basis, across workweeks? It took an employee class action lawsuit, but employers finally have the answer.
In Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc. (Cal. 2017) 216 Cal.Rptr.3d 889, employees filed a class action lawsuit after they had to work more than six days in a row. Nordstrom’s workweek ran from Sunday to Saturday. The lead plaintiff, Mendoza, worked seven or more days in a row over two workweeks on a number of occasions. For example, in one instance, Mendoza worked Monday, March 23 to Sunday, March 29, 2009, which equated to 6 days in the first workweek and 1 day in the second workweek. Nordstrom removed the case to federal court, and the federal court asked the California Supreme Court to determine whether the day of rest applies on a workweek basis or on a rolling basis. The California Supreme Court determined that it applies on a workweek basis.
California employers now know that employees get one day of rest in each workweek and should be mindful of the workweeks that they have established for their employees, particularly if they have established different workweeks for different employees. Employees can choose to work on their day of rest, but employers must be neutral with respect to that decision. In other words, employers cannot incentivize employees to forego their day of rest and must inform employees of their entitlement to the day of rest before allowing them to forego it.