The "Day of Rest" Law and What It Means for You
Clarifying the Legality of Your Work Schedule
In the California Supreme Court case, Mendoza vs. Nordstrom, the “Day of Rest” law is called into question, and the court’s ruling helps explain the law more clearly than it stood previously. As it stood before the ruling, an employee is entitled to one day of rest out of every seven days. This leaves room for a number of questions, especially considering part-time employees and the issue of force.
How is the “week” determined?
Mendoza’s complaint is that he was asked to fill on for other employees who were not able to be at work, and this caused him to work 12 days in a row, resting only on the Sunday of the first week and the Saturday of the next week. This seems like much more than the six allowed, but what the court ruled is that the day of rest applies within the “workweek”, that is, the employer’s designated workweek.
Because in each work week, he was given a day off, the court ruled that there was no violation.
What about part time employees?
Another significant note from this case is that Mendoza is a part-time employee, and each of 12 shifts did not last more than 6 hours at a time. The court ruled that the day of rest law does not apply to part-time employees if their shift doesn’t exceed 6 hours. This means that even without the days of rest given to him, shifts of 6-hours or less are not covered by the law, and he could work as many consecutive shifts as his employer saw fit and of which he was willing to work.
If any one of the shifts exceeded 6 hours, the day of rest law would apply for his employer.
The Issue of Force
The final concern addressed in this case is the concept of “causing” an employer to work more than 6 consecutive days in the designated work week in shifts exceeding 6 hours. Causing is somewhat of a difficult thing to prove. The employee can still volunteer for the additional hours for more pay or to fill a much-need gap in personnel, but if the employee is forced through the threat of termination or demotion, then this would be considered cause or force, which would be entirely illegal.