Wage and Hour Defense Blog

Wage and Hour Defense Blog

Category Archives: Wage-hour class actions

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Supreme Court Set To Resolve Class Action Waiver Dispute

Supreme Court Set To Resolve Class Action Waiver DisputeOn January 13, 2017, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear three cases involving the enforceability of arbitration agreements that contain class action waivers.

Whether such agreements are enforceable has been a hotly contested issue for several years now, particularly in cases involving wage-hour disputes.

The Fifth Circuit has held that such waivers can be enforceable (NLRB v. Murphy Oil, Inc.), joining the Second and Eighth Circuits in that conclusion. The Seventh (Epic Systems, Inc. v. Lewis) and Ninth Circuits (Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris) have held that they are not, … Continue Reading

The U.S. Supreme Court May Review the Enforceability of Class Action Waivers

One of the most controversial issues in employment law these days involves the position of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) that an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) when it requires employees to pursue any dispute they have with their employer on an individual, rather than on a class or collective action, basis with other employees. It is a position that has been adopted by two circuit courts and rejected by three—a conflict that suggests that the issue is ripe for U.S. Supreme Court review.

The NLRB has contended that when an employer requires employees … Continue Reading

Employers Under the Microscope: Is Change on the Horizon? – Attend Our Annual Briefing (NYC, Oct. 18)

Employers Under the Microscope: Is Change on the Horizon?

When: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Where: New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019

Epstein Becker Green’s Annual Workforce Management Briefing will focus on the latest developments in labor and employment law, including:

  • Latest Developments from the NLRB
  • Attracting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce
  • ADA Website Compliance
  • Trade Secrets and Non-Competes
  • Managing and Administering Leave Policies
  • New Overtime Rules
  • Workplace Violence and Active-Shooter Situations
  • Recordings in the Workplace
  • Instilling Corporate Ethics

This year, we welcome Marc Freedman and Jim Plunkett from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Marc and Jim will … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Approves Time-Rounding Practice – Employment Law This Week

One of the top stories featured on Employment Law This Week: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reaffirms an employer’s time-rounding practice. A call-center employee in California recently brought a class action lawsuit against his employer for time-rounding practices. The employee claims that the policy caused him to be underpaid by a total of $15 over 13 months. Relying on a California Court of Appeals precedent, the Ninth Circuit found that the company’s facially neutral rounding policy—one that rounds time both up and down—is legal under California law. The employee also argued that he was denied payment … Continue Reading

High Court Says Statistical Analysis Can Establish Classwide Liability – Employment Law This Week

The new episode of Employment Law This Week features the U.S. Supreme Court’s easing of class certification standards in a case against Tyson Foods.

In Iowa, a group of Tyson employees brought a hybrid class and collective action for unpaid overtime spent changing clothes and walking to their work area. An expert determined the average amount of time spent on those activities, and the employees relied on those averages to get class certified and prove liability and damages. On appeal, Tyson argued that the employees should never have been grouped into a single class, because each employee took different amounts … 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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Wages for Off-the-Clock Security Screenings – Employment Law This Week

Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – has a story this week on off-the-clock security screenings, which are under scrutiny around the country. Two federal class actions challenging them have reached different outcomes.

Bath & Body Works recently agreed to settle a suit in California over unpaid overtime and off-the-clock security inspections. But a federal judge in the same state dismissed a similar class action against Apple in which retail workers claimed that they should be compensated for time spent having their bags checked. The judge concluded that the employees were not performing job duties … Continue Reading

Have We Now Seen the Last of “Bag Check” Class Actions?

Bag Security CheckIn recent years, employers across the country have faced a great many class action and collective action lawsuits in which employees have alleged they are entitled to be paid for the time spent in security screenings before they leave their employers’ premises – but after they have already clocked out for the day.  Retailers have been particularly susceptible to these claims as many require employees to undergo “bag checks” before they depart their stores to ensure that employees are not attempting to carry merchandise out in their bags or coats.

In late 2014, in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. BuskContinue Reading

Beauty School Unpaid Wage Lawsuit Dismissed – Employment Law This Week

Featured in Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program: Beauty school students are not entitled to wages – that was the conclusion reached by federal judges in two different cases where the students challenged the practice of serving salon customers in a clinical setting.

In both cases, the Court held that the students had not proven that the educational benefit they received was outweighed by the unpaid work they did, and they therefore did not qualify for minimum wages and overtime. Unpaid internships are under a lot of scrutiny right now by the Department of Labor … 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

Illinois Court Holds That Meal Credit Program Is Valid

Our colleague Jeffrey H. Ruzal recently wrote an article entitled “Illinois Court Holds That Meal Credit Program Is Valid,” which appears in the September 2014 issue of Hospitality Law.

Following is an excerpt:

Providing an employee meal program may be a nice gesture, but requires companies that do so to maintain proper records in case their meal plans are challenged.  An Illinois appellate court recently affirmed a circuit court’s dismissal of plaintiff restaurant worker’s class action claim that defendant restaurant employer took improper deductions from plaintiff’s wages to fund a meal credit program.

Read the full article here.… Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Decision Guarantees Only One Thing – More Wage-Hour Class Actions with More Expert Witnesses

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

Take 5 Views You Can Use: Wage and Hour Update

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.

  1. 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

New California Law Limiting When Prevailing Employers Can Recover Attorney’s Fees In Wage-Hour Cases Is Bound To Lead To Even More Meritless Lawsuits

By Michael Kun

A California plaintiff who prevails in a wage-hour lawsuit generally may recover his or her attorney’s fees.  The same is so for employers — but only for the next few months.

A new statute will take effect in January 2014 that will change whether and how an employer who prevails in such a case may recover its fees.  In a state already overrun with wage-hour lawsuits with questionable merit, that new statute seems to ensure that even more meritless wage-hour lawsuits will be filed by plaintiffs’ counsel who count on the in terrorem effect of those lawsuits … Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit Enforces An Arbitration Agreement Containing A Class Action Waiver, Joining The Majority Of Courts Who Have Considered And Declined To Follow The NLRB’s Decision In D.R. Horton

By: Marisa Ratinoff

Like the Second Circuit, the Ninth Circuit recently enforced an Ernst & Young LLP arbitration agreement, reversing the district court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration in a wage and hour suit brought by a former employee.

The lower court initially ruled that Ernst & Young had waived its right to arbitrate by delaying its assertion of the defense, but the Ninth Circuit reversed finding Richards failed to establish that he suffered any prejudice from Ernst & Young’s delay.

Richard urged the Court to rely on the National Labor Relations Board’s decision in D.R. Horton, … Continue Reading

Michael Kun Quoted in Inside Counsel About Dukes Impact on Wage-Hour Class Actions

Michael Kun, co-founder of this blog and Member of Epstein Becker Green, was recently quoted in Inside Counsel about the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision upon wage-hour class actions.

The article, “Citing Dukes, Court Overturns Class Certification in Wage and Hour Dispute,” focuses on the Ninth Circuit’s recent Wang v. Chinese Daily News decision, about which Michael has previously written in this blog.… Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit Joins Other Circuits In Recognizing “Hybrid” Wage-Hour Class Actions

By Michael Kun

“Hybrid” wage-hour class actions are by no means a new concept. 

In a “hybrid” class action, the named plaintiff files suit seeking to represent classes under both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and state wage-hour laws.  As the potential recovery and limitations periods for these claims are often very different, so, too, are the mechanisms used for each. 

In FLSA claims, where classes can be “conditionally certified” if a plaintiff satisfies a relatively low burden of establishing that class members are “similarly situated” – a phrase nowhere defined in the statute – only those persons … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Raises Bar for Class Certification

By Stuart Gerson

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

Actual Duties Define Exempt Status of Managerial Retail Employees and Precludes Class Certification

By: Marisa S. Ratinoff

Exempt or non-exempt: That is the question. One of the most difficult areas in wage and hour law for retailers is properly classifying their managerial employees for purposes of determining if overtime need be paid or meal and rest breaks provided. Long has been the rule that the actual duties the employee performs will determine if he or she is misclassified. While this is often frustrating to retailers, whose assessment of an individual’s job duties may be a judgment call as to whether they meet or do not meet the specific requirements of an exemption, the … Continue Reading

A Victory For Employers Facing Wage-Hour Class Actions: U.S. Supreme Court Closes The Door On An Oft-Used Plaintiffs’ Scheme To Avoid Federal Jurisdiction

by Michael Kun

In 2005, Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) to ensure that large, interstate class actions could be heard in federal courts.  Under CAFA, federal courts have been given original jurisdiction over those class actions in which at least one party is diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million once all of the putative class members’ claims have been aggregated.

Likely before CAFA had even gone into effect, some plaintiffs’ lawyers devised a strategy to try to escape federal jurisdiction under CAFA – stipulating that they would seek less than $5 million to stay … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Decertifies Chinese Daily News Class, Confirming That The Tough Dukes Standard Applies To Wage-Hour Cases

By Michael Kun

The Ninth Circuit has just issued an important new opinion that not only makes clear that the Supreme Court’s landmark Dukes v. Wal-Mart decision in fact applies to wage-hour claims, but also provides some very strong language for employers to rely upon in opposing class certification motions in wage-hour cases.

The Ninth Circuit decision decertifying the class that had been certified on overtime and meal break claims in Wang v. Chinese Daily News may be found here

The history of Chinese Daily News is a long and torturous one that could only be of interest to … Continue Reading

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