Lots to talk about in the Labor & Employment world!  The Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act went into effect on April 1, 2018, imposing stricter non-discrimination rules on employers of pregnant workers. The U.S. Department of Labor launched the Payroll Audit Independent Determination program, which encourages employers to self-report wage and hour violations. The Sixth Circuit issued a decision in EEOC v. R.G. & R.G. Harris Funeral Homes, holding that transgendered employees are protected under Title VII, even mounted against an employer’s religious objections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts lost a step in the legal challenge to the contraceptive mandate exemptions in the Affordable Care Act, on the grounds that it did not have standing to assert the relief it sought. Still on the federal landscape, Congress added an amendment to the FLSA in the recent omnibus budget bill, providing that an employer may not keep tips received by its employees for any purpose. The Supreme Court issued an important ruling holding that service advisors are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements and rejecting the principle that FLSA exemptions should be narrowly construed.   The State of Washington followed suit with many other states, including California, New York, and Massachusetts, becoming the most recent state to add an updated Equal Pay Act, and a “Ban the Box” law.  In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Washington also barred nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment suits.  As always, stay tuned for further updates and more details on these developments which we will be covering more extensively here in the coming weeks, including a post on the Massachusetts Pay Equity Act coming up later this week.

Finally, there’s still time! Don’t forget to register to attend our Fourth Annual Employment Law Summit on April 19.

On Monday of this week, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit when it ruled in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro that auto dealership service advisors are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements. The justices’ analysis led the five-justice majority to conclude that service advisors fall squarely within the applicable exemption for “any salesman, partsman or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles.” 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(10)(A). This case, however, promises broad national impact because the majority rejected the longstanding principle established through decades of FLSA jurisprudence that exemptions should be construed narrowly.

Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Broadens Construction of FLSA Overtime Exemption

Last year New York State made significant changes to its wage orders resulting in increases to the State’s minimum wage, white collar overtime exemption salary thresholds, tip, meal and lodging credits, and uniform allowances.  The latest changes go into effect on December 31, 2017.  We quickly summarize the minimum wage and overtime salary threshold changes below, but urge you to visit our prior post here for more in-depth coverage, including best practices for compliance.

Continue Reading Reminder: New York Wage Thresholds Increase on December 31, 2017

As we enter the holiday season, we gather around the bubbler to sing about a few of our favorite (and not so favorite) things in the world of employment and labor law.  Unfortunately, they’re not as sanguine as raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens…

Some retail employers will be on Santa’s naughty list after the Sixth Circuit found that sales employees paid on a 100% commission or draw basis cannot be required to repay outstanding draws after termination of employment.  The Senate decked the halls of the NLRB by confirming a new General Counsel, who will serve a critical policy role and is expected to move away from enforcement of the NLRB’s broadened joint-employer standard.   This could be the last Christmas employees have to visit EEOC offices in person to file discrimination charges after the EEOC launched a new online portal, putting employers on alert of the possibility of increased charge filings in 2018.  It’s a wonderful Christmas time for minimum wage workers in Montgomery County, Maryland, in DC’s metro area, who joined the small but growing ranks of jurisdictions increasing its minimum wage to $15.00 per hour beginning in 2021. Retail employees in New York might get a silent night away from work thanks to new employee scheduling regulations proposed by the New York State Labor Department that will limit “just in time” or “on call” scheduling and require additional pay for employees scheduled on short notice.  While California employers may have longer than 8 nights, they don’t have quite a month to prepare for new regulations that will take effect January 1, 2018, which expressly prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history prior to a conditional offer of employment.

Employers beware.  A recent case serves as a reminder as we wind down the calendar year that employers should closely review their policies and procedures applying to employees paid on a 100% commission or draw basis.  In Stein v. HHGreg Stores, the United States Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit ruled that, while a retail employer’s draw on future commissions to meet minimum wage requirements was lawful, the company policy requiring repayment for outstanding draws after an employee had been terminated was not.

Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Draws the Line: Draws on Future Commissions and Post-Termination Payback Policies

Trick or Treat! This month’s Bubbler is a cauldron full of hot new developments in employment law …  the NYC Salary History law is now in effect … California followed suit and its salary history law will take effect on January 1, 2018, just after Delaware and just before Massachusetts … Employers in New York are preparing to implement the new Paid Family Leave law, joining California, New Jersey and Rhode Island as the fourth state to provide this paid leave through employee-paid payroll taxes … The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the class action waiver case … the NYC Council passed a bill to expand the Earned Sick Time Act … and the Third Circuit cited to a Harry Potter novel in an FLSA decision.

 

Short of a successful (but highly unlikely) appeal, the Obama-era overtime rule is now officially no longer.  That rule would have required employers to pay employees a little more than $47,000 annually to qualify under one of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s white collar exemptions.  The rule was already in limbo when a Texas Federal district court judge temporarily prevented its enforcement just before Thanksgiving last year, and now that same judge has struck down the rule permanently just before another major American holiday.

 

Continue Reading Employers Receive Important Overtime Law News Just Before Labor Day

The Fourth Circuit recently ruled that a general contractor was the joint employer of employees of its subcontractor for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Salinas v. Commercial Interiors, Inc. has broad implications for the wage and overtime responsibilities of employers located within the Fourth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over appeals from federal courts located in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Offers New Test for Joint Employment under FLSA

This morning Punxsutawney Phil told us that we are facing six more weeks of winter.  Great.  We thought it served as a good opportunity to remind employers of the importance of establishing inclement weather policies that are compliant with wage and hour laws for both exempt and non-exempt employees.  Here is a quick, yet helpful, Q&A for your reading pleasure:

Continue Reading The Groundhog Says Six More Weeks of Winter, So Employers Should Remain Mindful of Their Obligations During Inclement Weather

Written by Brendan Lowd

Just before Thanksgiving, a Texas federal court judge issued an injunction blocking the closely-watched new federal overtime rule from taking effect as scheduled on December 1, 2016.  As expected, the DOL is not going quietly into the night and the parties have engaged in a flurry of court filings as the fight, at least in part, concerning whether the new rule is lawful shifts to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Continue Reading The Saga Continues on the Fate of the DOL’s Overtime Rule