Starbucks’s employee scheduling software automatically scheduled meal breaks before the start of the fifth hour of work for employees who were scheduled to work more than five hours.  However, for those scheduled to work just five hours or less, the software did not schedule a meal break.  If the employee actually stayed at work beyond five hours, the store manager was supposed to manually arrange for payment of the missed meal break penalty pay as well as explain why the employee had worked longer than five hours.  But Starbucks’s time records and payroll records showed that 75% of the workers who worked between five and five and a quarter hours were not given meal breaks or missed meal break pay.  This decision affirms a judgment finding Starbucks liable for penalties under the Private Attorney General Act but notes that the trial court properly took into account Starbucks’s good faith efforts to comply, assessing only a $5 penalty per violation, when it could have assessed up to $50 per violation.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1 (Guerrero, J.); November 27, 2018 (published December 19, 2018); 30 Cal. App. 5th 504