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Paul Zimmerman
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And on the Seventh Day, We Rest...Sometimes

The Labor Code in California appears to be pretty clear where it states that employees cannot work more than six consecutive days without a day of rest. But as is so common in the law, even this seemingly straightforward rule is subject to interpretation. And that’s exactly what the Ninth Circuit has done – with the help of some guidance from the California Supreme Court – in Mendoza v. Nordstrom Inc.

The plaintiffs in Mendoza were employees of Nordstrom (the department store) who argued they were required to work more than six consecutive days in violation of Labor Code §§ 551 and 552. The Ninth Circuit disagreed. It’s not that the court disputed that these individuals worked six days straight (they did), but it found that because the six shifts straddled two separate workweeks, no violation of these Labor Code provisions occurred. Indeed, according to the ruling in Mendoza, days are counted on a set workweek, not any six days in a row, for purposes of the “Day of Rest” rule. As otherwise stated, because the employees didn’t work more than six consecutive days in one Nordstrom workweek (Sunday through Saturday), the company was not liable to the class action plaintiffs.

In providing its guidance to the Ninth Circuit, the Supreme Court made clear that workers on the job for six straight days in a workweek must get a day of rest unless they work fewer than six hours every day during that period. In light of this recent ruling, employers are urged to be mindful when scheduling employees in excess of six hours per day for six consecutive days in a given workweek. In such an instance employers must not forget – on the seventh day, they must rest.

This blog post is not offered as, and should not be relied on as, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.