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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Gimme a break

Any victory for freedom, however small, is worth celebrating:


The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that employers are under no obligation to ensure that workers take legally mandated lunch breaks in a case that affects thousands of businesses and millions of workers.

The unanimous opinion came after workers' attorneys argued that abuses are routine and widespread when companies aren't required to issue direct orders to take the breaks. They claimed employers take advantage of workers who don't want to leave colleagues during busy times.

The case was initially filed nine years ago against Dallas-based Brinker International, the parent company of Chili's and other eateries, by restaurant workers complaining of missed breaks in violation of California labor law.

As is too often the case, this was an instance of people -- or at least their union representatives -- voluntarily giving up their freedom. Hell, they were demanding the right to give it up. Now if the poor dears want to take their breaks, they will actually have to make a conscious decision to do it. Shocking that they face such a hardship.


Harl Delos
Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:06am

There are a lot of supervisors that tell employees openly say you have certain rights - but with facial expressions, warn employees that boy, anyone who takes those rights will pay for it.  Employees in such companies will clock out and return to work, will decline to take vacations., etc.

Generally, companies treat customers about as well as they treat customers.  Chili's has great TV ads, but I've never heard anyone rave about their experience there, not have I heard any glowing recommendations of Romano's Macaroni Grill.  I'm unaware of any Maggiano's Little Italy restaurants near me, but I doubt I'm missing anything.

On the other hand, "Mad Money" Cramer thinks highly of Darden restaurants, the last time I ate at an Olive Garden, my waitress acted like she was having fun while working what had to be an exhausting job; when I commented on it, she said she'd worked other waitressing jobs but this one was wonderful.  And I know people who love their Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse eateries.

This decision is moot.  A restaurant doesn't have to treat their employees well - but they will pay through the nose if they don't, and that's something high-priced lawyers in a courtroom can't change.  Hmmm. It's getting on towards lunchtime.  Pasta e fagiole, salad and breadsticks sure sounds good!