Kathy Robertson

Gov. Jerry Brown preserved the tradition of 12-hour hospital shifts for health-care workers with the stoke of his pen.

Brown quietly signed Senate Bill 327 by Democratic Sen. Ed Hernandez from Azusa on Oct. 5. The bill confirms a long-standing agreement between organized labor and hospitals over meal periods when employees work long shifts.

A February 2015 decision by the California Court of Appeals invalidated a state wage order that governs meal periods for the health-care industry. The rule allows workers to waive a second, off-duty meal period, regardless of the length of the shift. The appeals court ruled the provision conflicts with state law that requires a second meal period if an employee works more than 12 hours. The ruling has been appealed — and the case is now pending before the California Supreme Court.

The case, Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, is a class action that alleges the hospital violated the Labor Code when it illegally allowed workers to waive their second meal period on shifts longer than 12 hours.