In a great many wage-hour complaints alleging unpaid overtime or failure to pay minimum wage, plaintiffs will bring suit without identifying any specific instances in which the plaintiffs ever worked unpaid overtime or worked for a period of time without being paid at least the minimum wage. The absence of such basic facts plagues many class action and collective action complaints, in particular. The Ninth Circuit’s recent opinion in Landers v Quality Communications rejects the notion that plaintiffs can survive a motion to dismiss by relying on cookie-cutter allegations. The Ninth Circuit has made it clear that plaintiffs must plead … Continue Reading
In Holaway v. Stratasys, Inc., the plaintiff was employed as a field service engineer and classified as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements. Based on that classification, the plaintiff’s employer did not keep records of his hours worked.
After being discharged, the plaintiff filed lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota claiming he was non-exempt, seeking overtime wages and alleging that he worked sixty hours per week every week of his employment. The District Court concluded that the plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to show he worked more than forty hours per week, and … Continue Reading
In August, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law HB 5622, amending the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA), which now recognizes for the first time payment of wages by payroll card. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2015. While the law provides a new option for Illinois employers, they must be careful to comply with the conditions under which payroll cards may be used.
Under the current Illinois law, employers are required to pay employees via check or direct deposit. The current law is silent as to whether payroll cards, which operate like debit cards, can … Continue Reading
As our readers know, for the purposes of certain blog entries, I have unilaterally declared that I am the Secretary of Labor.
- The “computer professional” exemption applies to anyone with a salary of at least $800 per week whose primary duty requires “highly specialized knowledge of computers and software.” The exemption now includes employees who provide help desk services, troubleshooting support, or who install hardware or software.
- In regard to New York law, building owners who provide free apartments to their janitors can still count the value of the apartment as wages. However, that value is no … Continue Reading
By: Amy Messigian
In a major blow to California employers who utilize a monthly commission scheme but pay biweekly or semimonthly salary to their commission sales employees, the California Supreme Court ruled earlier this week in Peabody v. Time Warner Cable, Inc. that a commission payment may be applied only to the pay period in which it is paid for the purposes of determining whether an employee is exempt from overtime. Employers may not divide the commission payment across multiple pay periods in order to satisfy the minimum compensation threshold for meeting the exemption in any earlier pay period. California … Continue Reading
By Michael Kun
Much has already been written about last week’s California Supreme Court decision in Duran v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, a greatly anticipated ruling that will have a substantial impact upon wage-hour class actions in California for years to come. Much more will be written about the decision as attorneys digest it, as parties rely on it in litigation, and as the courts attempt to apply it.
In a lengthy and unanimous opinion, the California Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s decision to reverse a $15 million trial award in favor of a class of employees … Continue Reading
By: Michael S. Kun
My colleagues have a new post on the Retail Labor and Employment Law blog that will help many of our readers at this time of year: “Summer’s Coming! How to Handle Unpaid Internships,” by Jeffrey M. Landes, Susan Gross Sholinsky, and Nancy L. Gunzenhauser.
Following is an excerpt:
A hot topic for every summer – but particularly this summer – is the status of unpaid interns. You are probably aware that several wage and hour lawsuits have been brought regarding the employment status of unpaid interns, particularly in the entertainment and … Continue Reading
In a complimentary webinar on May 22 (1:00 p.m. ET), our colleagues Jeffrey M. Landes and Susan Gross Sholinsky will present a webinar on how to strategically structure internship programs to comply with applicable wage and hour guidelines.
Join us for a discussion on how to minimize both your organization’s liability and the risk of wage and hour lawsuits. In particular, below are just a few of the many questions we will address during the webinar:
- What are the best practices for recruiting and hiring seasonal interns, and what critical language should you include (or avoid) in offer letters, employment … Continue Reading
A recent decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals examined the question of whether expense reimbursements were actually "shadow wages" that should have been included when calculating an employee’s overtime rate.
In Newman v. Advanced Technology Innovation Corp., the plaintiffs were non-exempt engineers who worked remotely. Each plaintiff signed an agreement with Advanced Tech under which they were to receive (i) an hourly wage, (ii) overtime at a rate more than one-and-a-half times the hourly wage, and (iii) a "per diem expense reimbursement" in light of their remote work assignments.
The plaintiffs claimed that the per diem was “tied to … Continue Reading
By: Kara M. Maciel
The following is a selection from the Firm’s October Take 5 Views You Can Use which discusses recent developments in wage hour law.
- IRS Will Begin Taxing a Restaurant’s Automatic Gratuities as Service Charges
Many restaurants include automatic gratuities on the checks of guests with large parties to ensure that servers get fair tips. This method allows the restaurant to calculate an amount into the total bill, but it takes away a customer’s discretion in choosing whether and/or how much to tip the server. As a result of this removal of a customer’s voluntary act, the … Continue Reading
On September 16, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that Harris Health System (“Harris”), a Houston health care provider of emergency, outpatient and inpatient medical services, has agreed to pay more than $4 million in back wages and damages to approximately 4,500 current and former employees for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and recordkeeping provisions. The DOL made this announcement after its Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) completed a more than two-year investigation into the company’s payment system prompted by claims that employees were not being fully compensated.
Under … Continue Reading
The new version features an updated main screen design; added support for iOS 6, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and fourth generation iPad; improved search capabilities; enhanced attorney profiles; expanded email functionality for sharing guide content with others; and easier access to additional wage and hour information on EBG’s website, including the Wage and Hour Division Investigation Checklist and other resources. The new version continues to … Continue Reading
This on-going series of blog posts flows from EBG’s publication of its Wage and Hour Division Investigation Checklist for employers. The Checklist, along with this series, is aimed at guiding employers through DOL Wage and Hour Division Investigations.
We have previously blogged our way through How to Prepare for a Wage and Hour Inspection, What to Do When a Wage and Hour Investigation Team Arrives to Start Auditing, and What Records Must be Provided to the DOL. In this post, we discuss what to expect during the “walk around” inspection portion of the on-site … Continue Reading
Wage-hour lawsuits filed under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) represent one of the fastest growing and most problematic areas of litigation facing employers today, especially when such cases are brought as collective actions. A recent Supreme Court case based in class action analysis provides a potentially-useful analog for employers to stave off such collective actions.
Class action criteria are set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, and they allow for one or more individual named plaintiffs to sue on behalf of a large – sometimes very large – group of unnamed employees, where: 1) … Continue Reading
By Douglas Weiner
Last month, we released our Wage and Hour Division Investigation Checklist for employers and have received terrific feedback with additional questions. Following up on your questions, we will be regularly posting FAQs as a regular feature of our Wage & Hour Defense Blog.
In this post, we address an increasingly common issue that many employers are facing in light of aggressive government enforcement at the state and federal level from the Department of Labor.
QUESTION: If a DOL team of Wage Hour Investigators arrive unannounced demanding the immediate production of payroll and tax records and access to … Continue Reading
By Michael Kun
We have written previously in this blog about California’s obscure “suitable seating” law, which requires that some employers provide “suitable seating” to some employees.
In short, the plaintiffs’ bar recently discovered a provision buried in California’s Wage Orders requiring employers to provide “suitable seating” to employees when the nature of their jobs would reasonably permit it. Although the provision was written to cover employees who normally worked in a seated position with equipment, machinery or other tools, employers in a variety of industries have been hit with class actions alleging that they have violated those provisions – … Continue Reading
By: Kara M. Maciel
Earlier this month, we released our Wage and Hour Division Investigation Checklist for employers and have received a lot of great feedback with additional questions. Following up on that feedback, we will be regularly posting FAQs as a regular feature of our Wage & Hour Defense Blog.
In this post, we address a common issue that many employers are facing in light of increased government enforcement at the state and federal level from the Department of Labor.
QUESTION: “I am aware that my industry is being targeted by the DOL for audits and several of my competitors … Continue Reading
Epstein Becker Green is pleased to announce the availability of a Wage and Hour Division Investigation Checklist, which provides employers with valuable information about wage and hour investigations and audits conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Like EBG’s first-of-its kind Wage and Hour App, which provides detailed information about federal and state laws, the Checklist is a free resource offered by EBG.
The Checklist provides step-by-step guidance on the following issues: preparation before a Wage and Hour Division investigation of the DOL; preliminary investigation issues; document production; on-site inspection activities; employee interviews; and back-wage findings, … Continue Reading
By Douglas Weiner and Kara Maciel
“There’s a new sheriff in town.” With those words in 2009, Secretary Hilda Solis initiated a policy at the Department of Labor that emphasized increased investigations and prosecutions of violators rather than the prior administration’s emphasis on providing compliance assistance.
Her departure – announced yesterday – is unlikely, however, to have much effect on the Department’s current aggressive enforcement policy, as the top enforcement officer of the Department remains Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith. Solicitor Smith was previously the New York State Commissioner of Labor, where she introduced task force investigations and procedures … Continue Reading
By Michael Kun
As we have written before in this space, the latest wave of class actions in California is one alleging that employers have not complied with obscure requirements requiring the provision of “suitable seating” to employees – and that employees are entitled to significant penalties as a result.
The “suitable seating” provisions are buried so deep in Wage Orders that most plaintiffs’ attorneys were not even aware of them until recently. Importantly, they do not require all employers to provide seats to all employees. Instead, they provide that employers shall provide “suitable seats when the nature … Continue Reading
On December 17, 2012, in Crocker v Townsend Oil, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court invalidated a settlement agreement, waiver and release to the extent it purported to release claims under the Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws, but did not expressly include that statute by name among the claims being released. Specifically, the Court held:
We…conclude that a settlement or contract termination agreement by an employee that includes a general release, purporting to release all possible existing claims will be enforceable as to the statutorily provided rights and remedies conferred by the Wage Act only if … Continue Reading
In recent years employees have asserted claims for time allegedly worked away from their normal worksites, on their Blackberries, iPhones or personal home computers. Until now, employers have been faced with the nearly impossible task of proving that their employees did not perform the alleged work. The US Department of Labor and plaintiffs’ attorneys have taken advantage of the well-established obligation of employers to make and maintain accurate records of the hours worked by their non-exempt employees, and to pay for all work “suffered or permitted” to be performed.
Now, the United States Court of … Continue Reading
By Michael Kun
Employers with operations in California have become aware in recent years of an obscure provision in California Wage Orders that requires “suitable seating” for some employees. Not surprisingly, many became aware of this provision through the great many class action lawsuits filed by plaintiffs’ counsel who also just discovered the provision. The law on this issue is scant. However, at least two pending cases should clarify whether and when employers must provide seats – a case against Bank of America that is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, and a case against K-Mart that is … Continue Reading
By Frederick Dawkins and Douglas Weiner
Earlier this month, at the ABA Labor and Employment Law Conference, Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith reaffirmed that investigating independent contractors as misclassified remains a top priority of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) enforcement initiatives. The DOL will continue to work with other federal and state agencies, including the IRS, to share information and jointly investigate claims of worker misclassification. The joint enforcement effort is certainly driven by, among other things, an interest in collecting unpaid tax revenue, and could result in significant liability to employers.
In addition to potential liability resulting … Continue Reading