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  • Posts by Matthew S. Disbrow
    Posts by Matthew S. Disbrow
    Partner

    Matt Disbrow is a labor and employment attorney who advises clients concerning a wide spectrum of employment matters, including wage and hour issues, overtime issues, executive employment and compensation, employment ...

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags into its third year, and many employees continue to work remotely, a spike of wage and hour class actions has emerged regarding claims for unpaid business expenses.  During the early days of the pandemic, employers scrambled to comply with the wave of stay-in-place orders that swept the country.  This required the transfer of millions of employees to remote work settings.  Sometimes these changes occurred without fully considering what expenses an employer must cover for remote work.  The answer to that question is not a simple one.  Both federal and state laws must be considered, and the legal obligation may be determined by the location of your employee’s home or other remote work site.

Think that tips have to stay with front-of-house staff?

Well, it may be time to think again.

On December 22, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule allowing employers who do not take a tip credit against their minimum wage obligations to implement mandatory tip pools in which employees who traditionally have not been able to participate in tip pools—such as cooks and dishwashers—may now receive a portion of the tips left by guests.  However, employers, managers, and supervisors still cannot participate in the tip pool, regardless of whether the employer takes a tip credit. 

The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on the prior year and plan for the upcoming one.  In 2018, a spotlight was directed at sexual harassment issues, leading to significant upcoming changes in some states’ employment laws.  Likewise, mandatory paid sick leave became a major 2018 issue that has led to changes for many employers.

Topics: Minimum Wage

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling concluding that service advisors at car dealerships are exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In doing so, the Court abandoned 70 years of precedent, construing FLSA exemptions fairly rather than under the historic narrow standard. This change may signal a more level playing field for employers when courts interpret FLSA exemptions.

Today, in a return to pre-Obama era standards, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the withdrawal of two informal guidance letters impacting the “joint employer” doctrine.

As most employers know by now, on November 22, 2016, a federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction that, at least temporarily, halted the implementation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) white-collar exemptions. The amendments were to have gone into effect on December 1, 2016, and would have more than doubled the salary requirements for exempt executive, administrative, and professional employees. Much to the business community’s chagrin, this saga continues. 

On June 20, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navorro, which concerned the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) classification of service advisors working at automobile dealerships. While the High Court did not actually decide the classification issue, it sent a strong message to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that it “has some explaining to do” before it reverses its position and changes its interpretation regarding FLSA exemptions.

They’re here! The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is set to unveil the new overtime regulations concerning the exempt status of executive, administrative and professional employees (the Final Rules) today at 2:00 pm (EST) at an event in Columbus, Ohio, which will feature Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. In advance of the formal release, the DOL has published a Fact Sheet that outlines the key provisions of the Final Rules.

The grapevine is abuzz! The word on the street is that the Department of Labor (DOL) could release the final amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) white-collar exemptions as soon as this week.

The final amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) white-collar exemptions soon will be upon us. Employers should begin preparing now for substantial changes to the federal minimum-wage and overtime exemptions that currently apply to bona fide executives, managers, supervisors, administrative employees, and professionals. At the opening session of the American Bar Association’s mid-winter meeting for the Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee (FLSL Committee), Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith confirmed again that the Department of Labor (DOL) anticipates publishing the final amendments to the white-collar regulations by late spring or summer of 2016. The DOL also is committed to making the amendments effective before the end of the year.

Wage and hour class and collective actions have sky-rocketed in recent years. This increase in “bet the business” litigation has been facilitated, in part, by the unique process courts must follow under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to certify an FLSA collective action (versus a typical class action under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure). Citing the “modest” showing necessary to conditionally certify an FLSA collective action, plaintiffs’ attorneys regularly obtain employee lists without establishing that a case actually can proceed on a class basis. Employers should know, however, that the fight is not over once a court conditionally certifies a collective action.

Employers and other sponsors of apprenticeship programs take notice. Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) intended to expand and update regulations concerning the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937. Among other things, these proposed regulations would add age (40 or older), genetic information, sexual orientation, and disability to the list of classifications protected under the statute and strengthen related affirmative action requirements.

Sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted.  That’s a lesson the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently learned.  In an opinion dated July 2, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reprimanded the DOL for pursuing “poorly documented” and “legally dubious” claims.  The Fifth Circuit found that the DOL had engaged in “uncivil and costly litigation tactics,” attempting to prevail by oppressively pursuing a very weak case.  Ultimately, the court held that the DOL had “acted in bad faith” and ordered the district court to enter an award against the DOL for hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees.

On July 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) articulated a standard that will be used to call into question independent contractor classifications. Specifically, the DOL published Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2015-1 (AI 2015-1), which is the first Administrator’s Interpretation in more than a year.

The White House announced that the long-awaited proposed amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act regulations concerning the so-called “white collar” exemptions will include a substantial increase to the salary required to maintain exempt status for most executive, administrative, and professional employees.

Employers should be vigilant, now more than ever, concerning the steps they take to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws.

In connection with statutory amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and new regulations issued by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, employers will be required to display an updated poster describing employees’ rights under the FMLA by March 8, 2013.

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