Aguilar v. Husco Int’l, Inc. 361 Wis. 2d 597, 863 N.W.2d 556 (Wis. 2015)

Husco had long given its employees unpaid 20-minute lunch breaks, and the union had agreed to that policy in every collective bargaining agreement negotiated since 1983. However, this longstanding policy conflicted with a Wisconsin state regulation requiring employers to pay employees for meal breaks shorter than 30 minutes. After a complaint was filed, the Department of Workforce Development reviewed the matter and determined that several factors in the case favored a waiver of the regulation and, on that basis, rendered a written decision stating the Department would not seek collection of back wages. Six Husco employees brought suit on the matter. After the trial court’s denial of summary judgment to both parties was appealed, the Court of Appeals granted summary judgment in favor of the employees, stating that the collective bargaining agreement allowing for the unpaid breaks could not trump the Department’s regulation. Quarles & Brady successfully petitioned the ruling for review at the Wisconsin Supreme Court, then won a reversal along with instructions to enter summary judgment in Husco’s favor below.

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