California Security Company Ordered to Pay $90M in Class Action Suit

09/30/2012 // Los Angeles, CA, USA // Keller Grover LLP // Eric Grover // (press release)

Los Angeles, CA — A landmark $90 million judgment was awarded to roughly 15,000 security guards who sued their employer, ABM Security, for failure to provide adequate rest breaks; simultaneously sending a warning to other California employers about what can happen when you fail to adhere to state and federal labor laws, reports Eric Grover, a Los Angeles employment lawyer.

The class-action lawsuit alleged that ABM Security guards were required to remain on duty during break periods with their cell phones and pagers activated, NBC Los Angeles reports. Under California labor laws, most workers are entitled to take a 10-minute rest break every four hours, which are free from all duties and should not require them to keep their radios, phones or pagers accessible.

“When you are on break, you are on break. There is no gray area—you must be relieved all of all your duties,” explains Los Angeles employment attorney, Eric Grover. “Being ‘on call’ doesn’t constitute a ‘break,’ which every employee is lawfully permitted. “

ABM “strongly disagrees” with the Superior Court Judge John Shepherd Wiley’s ruling, where he found that ABM’s policy did not give the guards legitimate rest breaks and therefore violated California labor laws.

“We will vigorously pursue our right to appeal because we firmly disagree with today’s ruling, its interpretation of California rest period law and California class certification standards,” said ABM General Counsel in a written statement. “We contend that we provide our workers with rest breaks conforming to both the letter and spirit of the law.”

In the past, ABM had operated by way of an exception through the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement that allowed the company to mandate that all guards be on call during their rest periods. However, that exemption has since expired.

“Let this serve as a cautionary tale to business owners in California and nationwide, as to what can happen if your business does not adhere to state and federal labor laws. Consistent and pervasive violations of labor laws could cost your business millions,” warns Grover, a Los Angeles employment lawyer.

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