Rodriguez v. Taco Bell Corp., No. 16-15465 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Taco Bell in a putative class action alleging that employees should be compensated under California law for the time spent on the company's premises eating discounted meals during meal breaks. As a preliminary matter, the panel held that plaintiff's dismissal with prejudice created a valid final judgment for purposes of jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1291. On the merits, the panel held that Taco Bell did not violate California Wage Order 5–2001, because the employees were free to use the thirty minutes in any way they wished, subject only to the restriction that if they purchased a discounted meal, they had to eat it in the restaurant. The panel held that Taco Bell’s meal policy satisfied the standard set forth in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, 273 P.3d 513 (Cal. 2012), because the company relieved employees of all duty and relinquished control over their activities. Even assuming the regular rate claim was not completely derivative of plaintiff's meal break claim and referred to overtime hours worked apart from meal breaks, and even assuming further that the value of the meal could be considered part of her compensation, she has not established that value.