Employment Law Experts Examine the Recent “Kenneth Cole” Case and its Far-Reaching Implications;

Offer Tips to Hospitality Employers on Avoiding Lawsuits


In a stunning defeat for employers, the California Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the case against national retailer, Kenneth Cole, has made it clear that employers are liable for back pay equal to one hour’s pay for every non-compliant meal or rest period, with a statue of limitations going back up to four years.

The precedent-setting implications of this ruling are far-reaching, and the hospitality industry now has no choice but to take aggressive, systematic steps to ensure they abide by the new standard, since the alternative leaves them highly vulnerable to possibly ruinous claims from employees – both past and current.

“This decision paves the way for class action suits against employers for the mammoth monetary liability it creates — employers must take immediate action to protect themselves,” said Jeff Thurrell, a partner with Fisher & Phillips’ Irvine, Calif. office  who specializes in hospitality issues. “In fact, because of the four year statue of limitations, we have already seen a dramatic increase in filings related to an employer’s alleged failure to provide rest and meal periods.”

Fisher & Phillips LLP represents a wide variety of employers in the hospitality industry including several national chain restaurants and national chain hotels, as well as smaller organizations in the hospitality industry. The firm’s Irvine, Calif. office – one of 18 nationwide – has attorneys readily available for interviews to discuss employment-related issues and pitfalls surrounding the hospitality industry, including:


"*"      Proper Classification of Exempt Employees –Knowing the boundaries for exceptions to the ruling is crucial. Since the states labor laws are so complex, prudent employers should audit their compliance to ensure that the companies’ practices are in line with state requirements.


"*"      Workplace Harassment – Young, hip workplaces, tight working quarters, and plenty of downtime make the hospitality industry a hotbed for harassment. Fisher & Phillips’ seasoned attorneys are available to discuss strategies employers can use to head off harassment issues before they occur, as well as effectively manage them after they do.


"*"      Child Labor Issues – Many young teens and high school students start their first jobs in the hospitality industry. In-depth knowledge of the state’s child labor laws can safeguard employers against costly legal action, before they occur.  


"*"      Expansion of California’s Civil Right Statures –As one of the protected categories of the new Fair Employment and Housing Act, attorneys can discuss how new legislation will protect workers who spend time caring for sick spouses, children and aging parents.


Fisher & Phillips has developed a long-standing and nationally recognized expertise in labor and employment law in order to protect the rights of employers. Fisher & Phillips offers a wide range of services to private and public sector clients, both unionized and non-unionized. With a focus on both preventive counseling and defense of claims, the firm addresses the business and legal objectives of employers in a way that optimizes their clients’ performance in today’s changing marketplace. To learn more about Fisher & Phillips, visit www.laborlawyers.com.


To schedule an interview with representatives at the Irvine, Calif. office of Fisher & Phillips, contact Amy Murphy at (714) 573-0899, ext. 34 or amy@echomediapr.com.

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