Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center Will Require Reevaluation of Employment Practices
Many California Health Care Employers Must Reevaluate Scheduling and Meal Break Waivers
On February 10, 2015, California’s 4th District Court of Appeal issued its opinion in Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, invalidating the portion of California Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Order No. 5 that permitted non-exempt health care employees to waive a second meal period for shifts longer than 12 hours. This is a landmark opinion, both for health care employers who have relied on this Wage Order provision and for all other California employers who rely on the IWC Wage Orders and their wage and hour rules.
For years, California employers have generally viewed the IWC Wage Orders as legally binding — both in what the Wage Orders require and in what they purport to allow. Health care employers in particular have relied on IWC Wage Order No. 5 and its provision authorizing health care industry employees to waive one of the two meal periods that are ordinarily required of non-exempt workers. This recent Court of Appeal ruling is a troubling reversal of the rule on which health care employers have relied.
* This article was also published in the Health Care Counsel blog. To read it there, click here.