Companies just won a major victory regarding meal breaks and compensable time in one state.


An appeals court ruled a fast-food chain was well within its rights to control the terms of a benefit it offered workers on their meal breaks.


Should time be paid?


In Rodriguez v. Taco Bell Corp., a California employee sued the restaurant because of its policy for discounted meals during meal breaks.


Workers could buy one meal at a discount each shift, as long as they ate it in the restaurant. The employee claimed that, since the employer controlled how workers spent their time when eating these meals, it was compensable under state law.


Not so, said the Ninth Circuit.


Here’s why: Purchasing a discounted meal wasn’t a requirement of the job. Employees were free to spend their meal breaks how they pleased. They were only required to stay on site if they bought a meal to eat.


Additionally, the policy banned workers from eating the meals in production areas, which also helped Taco Bell’s case