header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather


 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 21
1952 - 7.5-magnitude Kern County earthquake devastates Tehachapi; damage spread from San Diego to Las Vegas [story]
quake map


Commentary by Carl Kanowsky Esq.
| Friday, Mar 7, 2014
Carl Kanowsky, Esq.

Carl Kanowsky, Esq.

You have to wonder: Do folks who own restaurants feel they have a target on their back? I’ll explain.

Restaurants are big business. As reported in a University of Central Florida study, “sccording to the National Restaurant Association (2009), total revenues for the restaurant industry exceed $580 billion, with nearly 1 million operating restaurants in the U.S., providing jobs for over 13 million people.”

Impressive, huh? This must be a recipe for success, right? Not necessarily.

Contrary to popular belief, restaurants don’t tend to fail more often than other types of businesses. But according to a Cornell University study, more than 60 percent of them don’t survive to their fifth year. Clearly, keeping one going long-term is trying.

And of course, running a restaurant is sooo easy. All you have to do is get up every day before everyone else, work endless hours on your feet, and endure criticisms from your customers.

You restaurant owners have this delightful working environment, to say nothing of the joys of dealing with landlords, fighting with suppliers and kowtowing to the health department inspectors.

Add to this mix: trying to keep employees happy and satisfying the myriad of state and federal labor laws.

Both the Darden Restaurants chain (owners of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster and others) and Brinker International Restaurants (owners of Chili’s, Maggiano’s and Romano’s Macaroni Grill) know firsthand the burden of juggling these challenges.

Darden was recently hit with a class-action lawsuit, alleging the restaurant chain paid its employees below minimum wage. Darden already has paid close to $100,000 to the Department of Labor, which had investigated similar claims in Texas.

Now it must defend itself against allegations where, across all of its brands, employees who reported to work were told to not clock in until customers arrived; workers were not paid earned overtime; and several were not paid even minimum wage.

The costs of merely defending the case will run into the millions. That, of course, is to say nothing of how much it will cost to settle the case.

Fortunately for Brinker, it has a slightly happier story to tell. It’s been battling a long-running class action lawsuit here in California. The plaintiffs – current and former employees – accused Brinker of denying them their state-mandated meal and rest breaks.

Brinker’s argument was that it provided its employees with the opportunity to take the various breaks but that they continued to work instead. The old, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” defense.

It seems at least some of the workers didn’t want to take a 10-minute break in the middle of a mad lunchtime rush (especially if the break would impact how much the worker made in tips). However, the plaintiffs said offering the breaks was not enough. The employer must essentially force its workers to take their breaks and discipline those who fail to do so.

The case went all the way to the California Supreme Court in a highly anticipated decision. The court came down on the side of common sense: “The employer satisfies this obligation if it relieves its employees of all duty, relinquishes control over their activities and permits them a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break, and does not impede or discourage them from doing so.”

However, lest you restaurant owners rest too easy, the Supreme Court went on to say: “What will suffice may vary from industry to industry, and we cannot in the context of this class certification proceeding delineate the full range of approaches that in each instance might be sufficient to satisfy the law.” Certain fodder for future litigation.

So, don’t envy the restaurant owner. He has a lot more on his plate than you realize.

 

Carl Kanowsky of Kanowsky & Associates is an attorney in the Santa Clarita Valley. He may be reached by email at cjk@kanowskylaw.com. Nothing contained herein shall be or is intended to be construed as providing legal advice.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Thursday, Jul 18, 2024
Summer is here! With the season in full swing and kids starting their school break, the city of Santa Clarita welcomes youth to one of its most popular and long-standing programs:
Monday, Jul 15, 2024
Santa Clarita consistently earns recognition as one of the best places to live in the nation, boasting a high quality of life, strong safety record and a business-friendly atmosphere.
Thursday, Jul 11, 2024
Santa Clarita is known, not only for its scenic open spaces and family-friendly community, but also for its commitment to nurturing the arts and fostering a thriving, dynamic environment where creativity can flourish.
Monday, Jul 8, 2024
I am pleased to say that during our last City Council meeting in June, our City Council adopted yet another on-time, balanced budget for the 2024/25 Fiscal Year.
Friday, Jul 5, 2024
Growing up in the 1980s, I have many fond memories of spending time with friends at the Skate-N-Place on Soledad Canyon Road.
Monday, Jul 1, 2024
By day, the sounds of music and laughter fill the streets as we celebrate Independence Day in true Santa Clarita fashion with the annual Fourth of July Parade.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1952 - 7.5-magnitude Kern County earthquake devastates Tehachapi; damage spread from San Diego to Las Vegas [story]
quake map
2001 - Then-Assemblyman George Runner introduces legislation to memorialize the historic Ridge Route. Enacted Oct. 4. [story]
Ridge Route
Each year, since 1959, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors funds the production of a free holiday celebration at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Dec. 24.
Apply to Appear in 65th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration
Caltrans announces the northbound Interstate 5 will be reduced to one or two lanes overnights Monday, July 22 through Friday, July 26 from Lake Hughes Road to two miles north of Templin Highway (near the Whitaker Sand Shed) north of Castaic for paving work.
Northbound I-5 Lanes Reduced Overnights in Castaic Area
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale, Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra and the Child & Family Center have all earned grants from the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.
Master Chorale, SCYA, Child & Family Center Earn County Art Grants
Santa Clarita Public Libraries will host Tin Can art craft events at all three of the Santa Clarita branches July 23-25 at 5:30-6:30 p.m.
July 23-25: Tin Can Art Craft Events at Santa Clarita Library Branches
Sign up to volunteer today for the city of Santa Clarita’s Third Annual Graffiti Removal Day on Saturday, Aug. 3, 8-11 a.m. at Soledad Canyon Road and Camp Plenty.
Aug. 3: Third Annual Graffiti Removal Day
The Canyon County Community Center will host "Celebrate," an events series that celebrates cultures, customs and culinary wonders on Friday, Aug. 9, from 6-9 p.m.
Aug. 9: Celebrate Japanese Culture at Canyon Country Community Center
The Valencia Public Library will host a Teens DIY craft event for journals Thursday, July 25 from 3:30- 4:30 p.m. at 23743 Valencia Blvd, Valencia, CA 91355.
July 25: Teen DIY Craft Journal Event at Valencia Public Library
The city of Santa Clarita will present “Textura,” an original paintings and mosaic work exhibition by local artist Naomi Young.
‘Textura’ Exhibition by Naomi Young at The MAIN
Join Amazing Dog Rescue at PetSmart to meet the cutest, most amazing, fluffy friends searching for their forever homes, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Sunday, July 21.
July 21: Amazing Dog Adoption Event at Petsmart
Every day ​115 lives are taken by Metastatic Breast Cancer in the United States. The Met Gala SCV is part of a nationwide effort by METAvivor, a volunteer-led, non-profit organization. We exclusively fund Metastatic Breast Cancer research through rigorous scientific peer-review.
Sept. 21: Met Gala SCV Seeks Sponsors
Did you know that the summer season is the busiest intake time for Animal Care Centers? It’s also the best time to add a new furry friend to your family.
July 27: Santa Clarita Will Waive Animal Adoption Fees
Tim Williams, a lifelong resident of Val Verde and member of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society Advisory Board, is working to make sure his community and its storied past is not forgotten.
Val Verde Historical Society Seeks New Members
The California Department of Transportation has announced emergency repairs on State Route 126 to clear the shoulder and roadway of mudslide/debris, clear and clean drainage systems, repair damaged slopes and place erosion control.
SR-126 Highway Debris Removal, Emergency Repairs Project
1915 - Ince, Griffith, Sennett form Triangle Film Corp.; it produces & distributes early William S. Hart films [story]
Triangle Films
In celebration of Zonta leadership in the Santa Clarita Valley, ten past presidents of the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley hosted the Installation of Officers and Directors for the 2024-2026 biennium on Monday, May 20 at the beautiful patio of Salt Creek Grille in Valencia.
Zonta SCV Installs 2024-2026 Leadership
Summer is here! With the season in full swing and kids starting their school break, the city of Santa Clarita welcomes youth to one of its most popular and long-standing programs:
Marsha McLean | Santa Clarita Community Centers’ Summer Camps
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued an excessive heat warning for the Santa Clarita Valley Friday, July 19 through Wednesday, July 24 as triple digit temperatures have been forecast.
Excessive Heat Advisory Issued for SCV
Toby Lite, a middle infielder from Saugus High School has signed his national letter of intent to play baseball at The Master's University.
Saugus High Infielder Toby Lite Signs with TMU Baseball
The Outlets at Tejon are helping kids get ready for the new school year with its Back-to-School Bonanza happening Saturday, Aug. 3, beginning at 1 p.m.
Aug. 3: Back-to-School Bonanza at Tejon Outlets
Every summer, The Master’s University sends students across the world to partner with missionaries, pastors, and church planters in sharing the gospel and serving local bodies of believers.
TMU’s 2024 Global Outreach Team Travels the World
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station is asking for the public's help in identifying grand theft suspects in a crime that occurred in Valencia.
LASD Asking for Public’s Help in Identifying Grand Theft Suspects
The Sierra Hillbillies Square and Round Dance club invites the community to a "Back to the Beach" themed square dance Sunday, Aug. 4, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Valencia United Methodist Church.
Aug. 4: Sierra Hillbillies Hosting ‘Back to the Beach’ Square Dance
SCVNews.com