Court: California security guards’ on-call breaks illegal

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A work break is a work break according to California’s state Supreme Court.

Security guards employed by ABM Security Services had objected to a requirement that they keep their pagers and phones on during short rest breaks. The guards sued, and initially lost in appellate court. That ruling was overturned in December when the Supreme Court’s majority opinion noted that employers would have a “broad and intrusive degree of control” if they were allowed to keep employees on call during 10-minute rest breaks.

The decision was not unanimous. In its dissent, the justices said that such on-call requirements were indeed compatible with California law, not intrusive, and should have been allowed to stand.

Rules on the issue vary state by state. ABM is weighing its options.

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