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Thursday, Dec 8, 2022
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State Supreme Court Clarifies Worker Break Rules

Workers in California must have uninterrupted rest breaks and be relieved of all duties during that time, the California Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision last month. The state’s high court reinstated an $89.7 million judgment in a class action lawsuit brought by Woodland Hills employment firm Roxborough Pomerance Nye & Adreani. In Augustus v. ABM Security Services, the plaintiffs, who consisted of former ABM security guard Jennifer Augustus and a certified class of approximately 15,000 guards, sued ABM for violating state wage and hour laws by requiring employees to be on call during their mandated rest breaks. The workers had to carry and monitor communication radios to respond to emergency situations and other occurrences, and therefore were still working while on break. “For employers, this case means that they have a very clear-cut, easy-to-follow rule in terms of what their obligations are to employees during rest breaks,” said Michael Adreani, partner at Roxbourough Pomerance and one of the lead attorneys on the case. “Employers now know employees are to be relieved of all duties while on rest breaks.” The decision originates from the firm’s trial court win in 2012, which was reversed by the appellate court in 2014. The second court determined that it was within the law for workers to perform some of their regular duties while on break, but the Supreme Court disagreed. “We faced an opponent who was so well financed and had unlimited resources who fought us vigorously,” said Partner Drew Pomerance, who was the other lead attorney. He added that the legal battle lasted 11 years and that when you lose a case in the court of appeal, it typically halts there. Pomerance said it’s rare for the California Supreme Court to grant review of a case, but he is grateful the justices took on this one. “In the long run, I believe this (decision) will reduce lawsuits over rest breaks,” Pomerance said. “There is a very clear standard, and that’s good for business.” New Encino Practice Two Valley natives from different generations have opened an Encino law practice to solve business matters. Last month, Steven Kramar and Mark Madnick formed Kramar Madnick and opened their new 16,000-square-foot office at 16133 Ventura Blvd. The firm’s practice areas include litigation, business, real estate as well as trusts and estates. Kramar approached Madnick about forming a practice once he started receiving an overflow of medical provider cases. “It was growing so much beyond what I could handle, and Mark was the in-house counsel for a medical provider,” Kramar said. Madnick comes to the firm from L.A.-based Prospect Medical Holdings Inc., where he served as corporate counsel. Before forming the new firm, Kramar worked in his own practice for over 40 years, specializing in estate planning, probate work and real estate. “We really are trying to demonstrate we are business lawyers,” Madnick said. “We are here to provide transactional, litigation and problem-solving for anyone in the community that has a business.” The partners wanted a modern workspace and moved everything to a cloud-based system for ease and accessibility while working on cases. Currently, the office houses the two partners and one assistant, but Kramar and Madnick hope to expand the practice in the near future. New Partners Poole & Shaffery has promoted two of its attorneys to partners of the Santa Clarita-based firm. New partners Jaion Chung, who is based out of the firm’s L.A. office, and Kimberly Moore from the Walnut Creek practice, will continue to work at their respective locations. The firm has six offices, all in California. “These changes make our legal team even more formidable,” Partner and Co-founder John Shaffery said in a statement. “Ms. Chung and Ms. Moore have both proven to be excellent attorneys who are deeply committed to providing their clients the highest-quality representation, and they each have achieved phenomenal success in their individual areas of focus.” In Los Angeles, Chung oversees civil litigation matters on behalf of business owners, manufacturers, distributors, transportation companies, restaurant owners and retailers. In Northern California, Moore concentrates on the areas of construction law, transportation law and product liability, and mainly represents developers, general contractors, product manufacturers and suppliers as well as trucking companies. In addition, the firm has hired new associate attorney Andrew Sevanian, who will work with clients on business transaction and intellectual property matters. Before embarking on his legal career, Sevanian worked in the movie industry for DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, which is now owned by Comcast Corp., and Paramount Pictures Corp. of Los Angeles. He will be based out of Poole & Shaffery’s L.A. office alongside Chung. The firm was founded in 1998 by Partners David Poole and Shaffery to serve business and corporate clients in 22 practice areas. Staff Reporter Stephanie Henkel can be reached at (818) 316-3130 or shenkel@sfvbj.com.

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