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 March 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced a new pilot program, the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (“PAID”) program, which encourages employers to self-report inadvertent overtime and minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The program, which is expected to launch in April 2018, will be rolled out as a six month pilot program, after which the DOL will decide whether to make the program permanent based on its effectiveness, participation rate, and results.

Continue Reading U.S. Department of Labor Launches Wage and Hour Self-Reporting Program

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

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

What is happening in employment law? We will be providing you with quick employment law updates on a bi-monthly basis in a new series called “The Bubbler.”  It will let you know what’s what and who’s who in the continually-evolving, ever-important, hard-to-keep-track-of employment law world. The Bubbler delivers current events and other important news to our readers without the time or the interest to piece through the recent legislation, the ever-growing release of regulations and other agency guidance and the lengthy court decisions. We’re your colleagues at the water cooler who tell you just enough to pique your interest (but then provide links to satisfy your curiosity). Enjoy!

Continue Reading The Bubbler: September 6, 2017

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

Today we continue with our Year in Review segment, which looks at the key labor & employment law developments from 2016 in New York, the DC Metro Area, Massachusetts, and California, while offering our thoughts on 2017. Last week we covered New York and the DC Metro Area.  Now we turn to Massachusetts.  In addition, please join us in NYC on April 6, 2017 for Mintz Levin’s Third Annual Employment Law Summit as we address some of the key labor & employment issues impacting employers in 2017.  Register here.

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2016 Massachusetts Employment Law Year in Review

From case law interpreting one of, if not, the most employee-friendly independent contractor statute in the country to Beacon Hill’s efforts to pass non-competition agreement reform, Massachusetts is certainly no stranger to key developments in the labor and employment arena. This blog post highlights the 2016 case law and legislative efforts about which every Massachusetts employer should be aware, and provides insight over what to watch for as we move our way along through 2017 and beyond.

Continue Reading 2016 Massachusetts Employment Law Year In Review

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

Since a Texas federal judge blocked the U.S. Department of Labor’s overtime rule from taking effect in November, human resource managers, payroll professionals and employment attorneys (including over here at Employment Matters) have been abuzz about the fact that, at least for now, employers do not need to make sweeping changes to their compensation practices to comply with the rule.  What has been less discussed, however, is the impact on New York employers of the New York State Department of Labor’s amendments to New York’s Wage Orders, which become effective on Saturday, December 31, 2016, and which will, among other things, significantly increase the State’s minimum wage rate as well as its the minimum salary thresholds for individuals classified as exempt executives and administrative employees.

The NYSDOL had proposed these changes several months ago and the comment period ended back on December 3rd.  But the final rule was issued just yesterday, unchanged from its proposed form.  With the clock ticking, New York employers must and should pay immediate attention to these changes and should act quickly to fulfill their ongoing notice and posting obligations while adjusting compensation levels accordingly.  We summarize the Wage Order amendments below.

Continue Reading New York State Minimum Wage Rate and Exemption Salary Thresholds Set to Increase

Employers across the country woke up this morning to news that a Texas District Court judge has blocked the DOL’s overtime rule from taking effect on December 1, 2016.  This represents a stunning turn of events for employers. They will now be able to continue to treat as exempt from overtime “white collar” workers who are paid a salary of at least the current minimum level of $23,660 per year without raising their salary to the proposed new minimum of at least $47,476, as the new rule had required. But, anticipating the new rule taking effect on December 1, many employers had already re-classified employees as non-exempt or raised their salaries to maintain the exemption or communicated the anticipated changes to their workforce.  And even those employers who have waited until the last minute to ready themselves for compliance have been left scratching their heads as to next steps, now that the rule will not, at least for now, take effect.  This post explores the court’s decision and employer’s potential responses to it.

Continue Reading With DOL’s OT Rule Blocked, Employers Are Left Asking “What’s Next?”