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Taco Bell sued by staff after California outlets BANNED them from eating discounted lunches outside

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Taco Bell sued by staff after California outlets BANNED them from taking their discounted meals home

California Taco Bell employees brought a lawsuit against the fast food company for banning them from leaving the restaurant during their lunch breaks if they bought food using their employee discount.

In compliance with state law, Taco Bell gives employees a 30-minute meal break and, as a bonus, offers them the option of purchasing a discounted meal, with the understanding that they have to eat what they buy inside the restaurant.   

The fast food company apparently put the practice into place in an attempt to prevent ‘theft,’ stopping employees from using their discounts for food they’d turn around and give to their family and friends, Inc. reported. 

A former California Taco Bell employee sued the fast food company over a policy stating that lunch break food purchased with an employee discount must be consumed on premise 

A former California Taco Bell employee sued the fast food company over a policy stating that lunch break food purchased with an employee discount must be consumed on premise 

Taco Bell, however, has no problems with employees leaving the premises with their orders during their half-hour lunch breaks if they pay full price for the food. Employees are welcome to leave during their breaks if they brought food from home or elsewhere, as well. 

In December 2017, a former California Taco bell employee brought a class action lawsuit against the company in San Francisco, arguing that the company should pay a premium to employees who purchased discounted food and ate it inside the restaurant, per company policy. 

The employee argued that the company policy ‘subjected the employees to sufficient employer control,’ in effect leaving employees on call during their breaks.

Taco Bell argued that was not true, as employees were relieved of all duties during their lunch breaks.  

In July, a California court decided the class action lawsuit in favor of Taco Bell, stating that employees were not considered on call when consuming their discounted food inside the restaurant and therefore were not eligible for a premium wage 

In July, a California court decided the class action lawsuit in favor of Taco Bell, stating that employees were not considered on call when consuming their discounted food inside the restaurant and therefore were not eligible for a premium wage 

The class action lawsuit was bumped up to California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which wound up siding with Taco Bell in an opinion filed July 18.  

The court rejected the employee’s claims, stating that ‘California law was not violated because Taco Bell relieved their employees of all duties during the meal break period and exercised no control over their activities, where employees were free to use the thirty minutes in any way they wished, subject only to the restriction that if they purchased a discounted meal, they had to eat in the restaurant.’

In addition, the court said, Taco Bell’s assertion that employees were relieved of duties during their breaks was shored up by the fact that the company prohibited employees from taking their meal or rest periods in either the ‘food production area’ or the ‘cash register service area.’     

The court also stated that because the employees were not actually on call during their lunch breaks while eating their discounted food, they were not entitled to a premium wage as compensation. 

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