Wage and Hour Defense Blog

Wage and Hour Defense Blog

Category Archives: Wage and Hour Policies

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Wage and Hour Division Offers Guidance on Joint Employment – Employment Law This Week

The top story on Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – is the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division’s new interpretation of joint employment.

The federal Wage and Hour Division issued an Administrator’s Interpretation with new guidelines for joint employers under the FLSA and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. The Division makes it clear that it believes employers are regularly part of joint employment relationships with their vendors and business partners. If an employee files a claim or lawsuit and a joint-employment relationship is found, both employers can be found liable for … Continue Reading

The Wage Hour Division Issues an Interpretation on Joint Employment Relationships

Joint EmploymentAs part of the Wage Hour Division’s continuing focus on defining the employment relationships covered by the FLSA, the Division’s Administrator has issued an Administrators’ Interpretation (as well as a Fact Sheet) addressing joint employment relationships.  At the very least, the Interpretation suggests that the Division will be seeking to use the “joint employer” doctrine to pursue multiple entities – and “deeper pockets” – to address wage issues.

“Larger and More Established” Employers

The Administrator’s Interpretation notes that joint employment often involves one “larger and more established” employer “with a greater ability to implement policy or systemic changes to ensure … Continue Reading

No Overtime Pay for Off-Duty BlackBerry Use – Employment Law This Week

One of the featured stories on Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – is that there will be no BlackBerry overtime pay for cops in Chicago.

A federal magistrate judge in the Northern District of Illinois ruled that time spent by Chicago police officers actually answering emails on their BlackBerries was work eligible for overtime. However, “monitoring” of their BlackBerries was not work because the officers were still free to use the time predominantly for their own benefit. Regardless, the judge found that the City did not know the employees were doing any work, and … Continue Reading

What’s Behind the 2015 Increase in FLSA Lawsuits?

As we mentioned earlier this week, I was recently interviewed on our firm’s new video program, Employment Law This Week.  The show has now released “bonus footage” from that episode – see below.

I elaborate on some of the reasons behind this year’s sharp increase in federal wage-and-hour suits: worker-friendly rules, increased publicity around minimum wage and overtime issues, and the difficulties of applying an outdated law to today’s “gig” economy.

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FLSA Lawsuits Hit Record in 2015 – Employment Law This Week

The top story on Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – is the record high for Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits in 2015.

The number of federal wage-and-hour suits rose almost 8% this year. There are many reasons for the increase, including more worker-friendly rules and increased publicity around minimum wage and overtime issues. Some point to the difficulties of applying an outdated law to our modern day economy.

Jeff Ruzal, co-editor of this blog, is interviewed. Click below to view the episode.

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Epstein Becker Green’s Wage and Hour Leaders Discuss Hot Button Issues at 34th Annual Workforce Management Briefing

On October 15, 2015, Epstein Becker Green hosted its 34th Annual Workforce Management Briefing, which featured senior officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  This year’s briefing boasted a record setting attendance, including industry leaders, general counsel and senior human resources professionals, many of whom attended the briefing workshop, Wage and Hour Compliance: You Are Not Exempt.

The Wage and Hour workshop featured three of Epstein Becker Green’s wage and hour practice attorneys — Michael Kun, Patrick Brady and Jeffrey Ruzal — who addressed pressing wage and hour issues that face workforce management today.… Continue Reading

“Small Doses” of Non-Educational Work Did Not Turn Students into Employees

Beauty and fashion background with open notebook, lipstick and pearls.Following recent precedent by the Second and Eleventh Circuits, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District  of California dismissed the claims of cosmetology and haircutting students who claimed they acted primarily as workers rather than students. 

In Benjamin v. B&H Education, Inc., the plaintiffs sought to represent a putative class of students seeking wages from their schools under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the wage hour laws of California and Nevada.

The District Court held that the putative class representatives had not established that the educational benefits they received from attending the defendant’s schools were … Continue Reading

D.C. Employers Must Offer Transit Benefits Starting January 1, 2016

Brian W. SteinbachAlthough not widely reported, effective January 1, 2016, the District of Columbia joins New York City and San Francisco in requiring employers of 20 or more employees to offer qualified transportation benefits.  By that date, covered D.C. employers who do not already do so must offer one of three transit benefit options.

Under the Sustainable DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014, Title III, Subtitle A, “Reducing Single Occupancy Vehicle Use by Encouraging Transit Benefits,” at D.C. Code §32-151, et seq., covered employers must “provide at least one of the following transportation benefit programs to its employees:”

  1. A benefit
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Meal Periods with Travel Restrictions May Be Compensable

In Naylor v. Securiguard, Inc., the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employer may be required to compensate employees for meal breaks if the employees are required to spend a significant portion of that period traveling to a required break area.

Facts Black white striped sentry box

Securiguard employees guarded several gates to a Naval air station.  During their shifts, the guards received two scheduled thirty-minute meal breaks.  The guards expressed a desire to eat at their posts, but Securiguard prohibited them from doing so (out of concern that the customer would think they were shirking their security duties).

Accordingly, the guards … Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Joins Second Circuit in Rejecting DOL Position on Unpaid Interns

On September 11, 2015 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit announced that it joined the Second Circuit in rejecting the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) rigid six part test for determining whether unpaid interns were employees and should have been paid minimum wages and overtime for their services. Schumann and Abraham et al v Collier Anesthesia, P.A., Wolford College, LLC, Thomas Cook and Lynda Waterhouse, No. 14-13169, 2015 BL 294459 (11th Cir. Sept. 11, 2015), citing to Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., Nos. 13-4478-cv, 13-4481-cv (2d Cir. July 2, 2015)

As did the … Continue Reading

Court of Appeals Restores DOL Regulation Barring Third-Party Employers from Claiming Exemptions for Companionship and Live-In Domestic Service Workers

Reversing a decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, an August 21, 2015 decHomeHealthision by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Home Care Association of America v. Weil (pdf) has approved a regulation by the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) extending federal minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers and live-in domestic service employees employed by third parties.

We previously wrote about the decision by the District Court for the District of Columbia that vacated a DOL regulation that had been scheduled to go into effect … Continue Reading

The Department Of Labor Addresses Independent Contractor Misclassification And Concludes That “Most Workers Are Employees”

The Administrator of the Wage Hour Division of U.S. Department of Labor has issued an Administrator’s Interpretation of the FLSA’s definition of “employ.” And the conclusion is one that not only could have a significant impact on the way companies do business, but lead to numerous class and collective actions alleging that workers have been misclassified as independent contractors.

Addressing the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, the Administrator’s Interpretation notes that the FLSA’s defines the term “employ” as “to suffer or permit to work.” Based on that definition, the DOL concludes that “most workers are employees.”

The Interpretation cites … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court to Review Tyson Foods Donning and Doffing Decision

On June 8, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Tyson Foods’ petition for review of the Eighth Circuit’s decision affirming the district court’s class and collective certification of a donning and doffing case under what Tyson Foods has described as “seriously flawed procedures.” While it does not appear that the Supreme Court’s review will deal directly with the standards for donning and doffing – i.e., the practice of employees putting on and taking off their uniforms and/or personal protective equipment pre- and post-shift – the Court appears likely to resolve how cases involving donning and doffing, as well as … Continue Reading

Motor Carrier Exemption Applies to Drivers Who can be Expected to Drive Interstate

In Resch v. Krapf’s Coaches, Inc., the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that drivers who “rarely or never crossed state lines” were nevertheless covered by the motor carrier exemption to the FLSA because they worked in safety-affecting jobs and reasonably could have been expected to drive interstate routes.

The FLSA’s motor carrier exemption creates an overtime exemption for employees who are covered by the Secretary of Transportation’s authority to regulate the safe operation of motor vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce.  To fall under the Secretary of Transportation’s authority, the transportation involved in the employee’s duties must cross … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court Approves DOL Interpretive Rules Holding That Mortgage-Loan Officers Are Entitled To Overtime

The United States Supreme Court has upheld an Administrator’s Opinion issued by the United States Department of Labor stating that “typical” mortgage-loan officers are not covered by the Administrative exemption to the FLSA’s overtime requirements.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Perez v. Mortg. Bankers Ass’n reversed a Circuit Court decision vacating the Opinion for failure to comply with the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”).  Specifically, the Supreme Court ruled that the APA expressly exempts the Department of Labor (and other federal agencies) from the notice-and-comment rulemaking process when it makes changes to its own interpretive rules.

Rulemaking Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Decision Exposes Healthcare Employers to Litigation if They Relied upon Wage Order for Meal Period Waivers

Employers in California – and healthcare employers in particular – have been besieged by wage-hour class actions for more than a decade. They have been sued repeatedly on claims that they have not complied with the terms of Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Orders. Now, as a result of a new decision from the California Court of Appeal, they may face lawsuits based not on a failure to comply with the language of a Wage Order, but because they in fact relied upon language in a Wage Order. It is a development that may lead many employers to throw up … Continue Reading

District Court Judge Vacates DOL’s Modified Definition of “Companionship Services”

Just over three weeks after vacating a regulation barring third party employers from claiming the companionship exemption for minimum wage and overtime, in a January 14, 2015 decision in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon has also vacated the Department of Labor’s attempt to drastically narrow the definition of “companionship services” (29 CFR Sec. 552.6,). Judge Leon had previously stayed the changes in the new definition, originally scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2015.

The new definition of “companionship services” would have drastically limited the provision of “care” – assistance … Continue Reading

The Sixth Circuit Holds That Meal Periods Spent “Doing Exactly What One Might Expect An Off-Duty Employee To Be Doing” Are Not Compensable.

In Ruffin v. MotorCity Casino, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether casino security guards were entitled to be paid for meal periods during which they were required to remain on casino property, monitor two-way radios and respond to emergencies if called to do so.

The District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan had granted summary judgment to the employer based on the conclusion that no reasonable jury could have found the meal periods to be compensable work time.

In affirming the ruling of the District Court, the Sixth Circuit relied on its earlier decision in Hill Continue Reading

District Court Judge Issues Temporary Stay of DOL’s Modified Definition of “Companionship Services”

On December 23, 2014, Brian Steinbach posted regarding U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s December 22nd decision in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, vacating the portion of the new Department of  Labor regulation (proposed 29 CFR Sec. 552.109, scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2015) barring third party employers from claiming the companionship services (minimum wage and overtime) or live-in domestic service (overtime) exemptions. The post noted that the decision did not address DOL’s separate changes to the definition of “companionship services” (proposed new 29 CFR Sec. 552.6).  Those changes included:  narrowing to 20% the … Continue Reading

New York: No Wage Theft Prevention Act Annual Notice Requirement in 2015

Our colleagues at Epstein Becker Green have released an advisory that will be of interest, particularly to New York employers: “New York Wage Theft Prevention Act Update: Annual Notice Requirement Is Removed for 2015,” by Susan Gross Sholinsky, William J. Milani, Jeffrey M. Landes, Dean L. Silverberg, Nancy L. Gunzenhauser, and Kate B. Rhodes.

Following is an excerpt:

On December 29, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the long-awaited amendment (“Amendment”) to the Wage Theft Prevention Act (“WTPA” or “Act”) and a chapter memorandum. Notably, the Amendment and the chapter memorandum abolish the annual notice requirement for 2015. The text … Continue Reading

District Court Decision Vacates DOL Regulation Barring Third Party Employers from Claiming Exemptions for Companionship and Live-In Domestic Service Workers

On December 22, 2014, the District of Columbia federal district court vacated a new U.S. Department of Labor regulation, scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2015, barring third-party employers from claiming minimum wage and overtime exemptions for “companionship” domestic service workers, as well as a statutory overtime exemption for live-in domestic service employees.

In his scathing opinion in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, Judge Richard J. Leon pointed out that the United States Supreme Court has already rejected “a challenge to the validity of the long-standing inclusion of employees paid by third parties within the companionship … Continue Reading

NLRB Alleges McDonald’s and Franchisees Are Joint-Employers

By Steven M. Swirsky

On our Management Memo blog, my colleagues Adam Abrahms, Martin Stanberry, and I posted “NLRB Issues 13 Complaints Alleging McDonald’s and Franchisees Are Joint-Employers.”

The National Labor Relations Board continues to focus on the changes in the nature of the employer-employee relationship, and the question of what entity or entities are responsible to a company’s employees for compliance with the range of federal, state, and local employment laws, including wage payment and overtime laws.

The Board’s General Counsel has now taken another big step in his effort to broaden the definition of “employer,” issuing … Continue Reading

Unusual Wage Payment Issue in 2015 for Many Employers: 27 Bi-Weekly Pay Periods, Not 26

There is an unusual wage issue for 2015 that will affect many employers that pay exempt employees on a bi-weekly basis (rather than weekly, semi-monthly or monthly).

It is an issue that may have both financial and legal repercussions.

And it is an issue we suspect many employers had not noticed or considered.

With 52 weeks in a year, there normally are 26 bi-weekly pay periods in a calendar year.  In 2015, however, there will be 27 for many employers.

This oddity occurs every 11 years.  In short, it happens because 26 bi-weekly paychecks only cover 364 days in a … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds That Time Spent in Security Screening Is Not Compensable Time

US Supreme CourtIn order to prevent employee theft, some employers require their employees to undergo security screenings before leaving the employers’ facilities. That is particularly so with employers involved in manufacturing and retail sales, who must be concerned with valuable merchandise being removed in bags, purses or jacket pockets.

Often in the context of high-stakes class actions and collective actions, parties have litigated whether time spent undergoing a security screening must be compensated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). On December 9, 2014, a unanimous United States Supreme Court answered that questionno.

The Court’s decision in Integrity Staffing Continue Reading

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