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Calif. High Court Ruling Brings Clarity for Employers, Employees

A unanimous California Supreme Court ruling in a closely-watched case involving employee rest periods and meal breaks has both sides pleased with the outcome.

The case involves a group of workers who sued a restaurant chain claiming they were pressured to work through those breaks.

The high court said employers must give their employees complete freedom to take rest and meal breaks. The workers' attorney, Michael Rubin, said a company now has a clear rule to follow.

"It cannot pressure someone to skip meal periods. It has to relieve them of all duty. And if it doesn't, it's liable," said Rubin.

But the ruling also said once employers provide those breaks, employees can choose to work through them anyway. That's drawing praise from Erika Frank with the California Chamber of Commerce.

"The court stated that employers do not have to police their employees - and that is a significant aspect of the ruling," said Frank.

The court also certified one class action involved in this case, rejected another and sent a third back to a lower court to reconsider.

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