Wage and Hour Defense Blog

Wage and Hour Defense Blog

Tag Archives: wage & hour

Tips Do Not Count Towards the Minimum Wage Unless a Worker Qualified as a “Tipped Employee”

Tips Do Not Count Towards the Minimum Wage Unless a Worker Qualified as a “Tipped Employe"In Romero v. Top-Tier Colorado LLC, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that tips received by a restaurant server for hours in which she did not qualify as a tipped employee were not “wages” under the FLSA, and therefore should not be considered in determining whether she was paid the minimum wage.

Tipped Employees & the FLSA

The FLSA provides that employers may take a “tip credit” and pay employees as little as $2.13 per hour if: (i) the tip credit is applied to employees who customarily and regularly receive tips; (ii) the employee’s wages and tips are … Continue Reading

FLSA Violations You Must Avoid

Our colleague Michael Kun, co-editor of this blog, shared his thoughts on various wage and hour issues in the publication of “7 Deadly Sins,”  which discusses FLSA violations that must be avoided to ensure compliance at your company, published by TSheets.

Following is an excerpt:

“The most common issues we see regarding meal and rest periods occur in states like California where state laws – rather than the FLSA – require that employees be provided those breaks at certain times during the day, and employees are entitled to significant penalties if they are not provided breaks in compliance with … Continue Reading

A Plaintiff’s ATM & Cell Phone Records May Be Discoverable When There Is a Particularized Showing of Relevance

Michael D. Thompson

Michael D. Thompson

In Gonzalez v. Allied Concrete Industries, Inc., thirteen construction laborers filed suit in the Eastern District of New York.  The plaintiffs claimed they worked in excess of forty hours per week, but were not paid overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.

To obtain information regarding the plaintiffs’ activities during hours they claimed to have been working, the defendants sought an order compelling discovery of their ATM and cell phone records.

ATM Receipts

The defendants asserted that records of the plaintiffs’ ATM transactions were likely to lead to … 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

Filing a Wage and Hour Class Action is Protected by the National Labor Relations Act

by Steven M. Swirsky

An NLRB Administrative Law Judge issued a decision on April 29th in which he found that when a waiter in a restaurant in New York City, acting alone, instituted a class action lawsuit claiming violation of state or federal wage and hour laws, he was engaging in concerted activity on behalf of himself and co-workers, even if none of those co-workers are aware of the filing. While the decision does not mention whether the waiter was represented by a union, it seems pretty clear that there was no union in this case.  

Thus, the … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Addresses Individual Liability, Joint Employment and Successor Liability Under the FLSA

by Michael D. Thompson

In Thompson v. Real Estate Mortgage Network, the Third Circuit addressed a variety of ways in which a plaintiff could pursue claims against entities that claimed they were not her employer.

The plaintiff was hired as a mortgage underwriter by defendant Security Atlantic Mortgage Company (“SAMC”).  Allegedly in response to an investigation being conducted into SAMC ‘s mortgage practices, the plaintiff and others were directed to complete job applications for Real Estate Mortgage Network ("REMN"), a “sister company” of SAMC.  The plaintiff completed the application, and subsequently her paychecks were issued by REMN instead of … Continue Reading

Are You Sure You Want Your Employees Accessing Work-Related Emails After Hours?

by Michael Kun

The workplace used to be a lot easier to manage.  That’s because the workplace used to be, well, the workplace.

Employees went to work, they worked, and they went home.  And when they went home, they were usually done working for the day, unless they got an emergency phone call from the boss. 

There was the workplace, and there was home, and (with those rare exceptions) never the twain shall meet.

For better or worse, those days are long gone.

First, there was the answering machine at home. 

Then, the cellphone.

Now, few are those employees who … Continue Reading

New California Law Requires Employers to Provide “Cool-Down Recovery Periods”

By Alka N. Ramchandani & Michael D. Thompson

In recent years, Cal-OSHA has taken an aggressive stance against exposing employees to potential heat illness, often citing employers and proposing significant penalties for failing to provide to employees who work in high heat conditions with adequate drinking water, shade, training, and/or cool-down periods. Furthermore, as noted by the California Supreme Court in Brinker v. Superior Court, monetary remedies for the denial of meal and rest breaks “engendered a wave of wage and hour class action litigation” when added to the California Labor Code more than a decade ago.   

The California Legislature has … Continue Reading

Texas Health Care Provider’s Miscalculation of Overtime Pay Proves Costly

By: Kara Maciel and Jordan Schwartz

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

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

With No Guaranteed Minimum, Employee That Received Unvarying Base Pay Was Not Exempt Under California Law

By Andrew J. Sommer

There has been a lack of clarity in California wage and hour law on how compensation must be structured to meet the “salary basis test,” particularly where an exempt employee is paid based on hours worked. However, in Negri v. Koning & Associates, the California Court of Appeal addressed this very issue and concluded that a compensation scheme based solely upon the number of hours worked, with no guaranteed minimum, is not considered a “salary” for the purpose of state overtime laws. 

Under California law, an employee exempt from overtime laws must regularly receive “a monthly … 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

Wage & Hour FAQ #2: What to Do When a Wage Hour Investigation Team Arrives to Start Auditing

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

The First “Suitable Seating” Trial In California Results In A Victory For The Employer – And Guidance For Plaintiffs For Future Cases

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

Clarification of California’s Obscure “Suitable Seating” Requirement Should Be Forthcoming In Two Pending Cases

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

Navigating the Murky Waters of FLSA Compliance

On September 19, 2012, several members of EBG’s Wage and Hour practice group will be presenting a briefing and webinar on FLSA compliance.  In 2012, a record number of federal wage and hour lawsuits were filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), demonstrating that there is no end in sight to the number of class and collective actions filed against employers. Claims continue to be filed, raising issues of misclassification of employees, alleged uncompensated "work" performed off the clock, and miscalculation of overtime pay for non-exempt workers.

In this interactive briefing and live webinar, we will discuss the recent … Continue Reading

EBG’s Free Wage-Hour App Has Been Updated to Include New Jersey Law And Changes In California Law

By Michael Kun

Earlier this year, we were pleased to introduce our free wage-hour app for iPhones and iPads.  The app puts federal wage-hour law, as well as that for many states, at users’ fingertips.

We have recently added New Jersey law to the app, as well as updated it to reflect changes in California law following the long awaited Brinker v. Superior Court decision clarifying meal and rest period laws.

The app may be found here:  http://itunes.apple.com/app/wage-hour-guide/id500292238?mt=8Continue Reading

New California Laws Increase Penalties for Employee Misclassification and Wage Theft

by Michael S. Kun, Eric A. Cook, and Jennifer A. Goldman

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed two employment-related bills into law, raising the stakes for employers doing business in California. The two laws, which increase the penalties for employers that wrongly classify employees as independent contractors or engage in "wage theft," both go into effect on January 1, 2012.

Read the full advisory onlineContinue Reading

Are Your Tipped Employees Performing Dual Jobs?

By Doug Weiner

In a recently reported case, Applebee’s’ servers alleged they spent a “substantial” amount of time performing non-tipped work, such as cleaning and maintenance, and should be paid the minimum wage 29 U.S.C § 206(A)(1)(c) of $7.25 rather than the direct wage 29 U.S.C. § 203(m) of $2.13 the FLSA 29 U.S.C. § 203(t) allows 29 C.F.R. § 516.28 tipped employees. Fast v. Applebee’s International, Inc.

Applebee’s contends there is no “dual job”, 29 C.F.R. § 531.56(e) as the server’s primary duty is customer satisfaction, and cleaning and maintenance duties are related to the servers primary duty. The … Continue Reading

Reducing Hours and Pay of Exempt Employees May Run Afoul of “Salary Basis” Test

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division has issued two new opinion letters addressing circumstances under which employers may not reduce the hours of exempt employees without running afoul of the "salary basis" test and risking loss of the employees’ exempt status.  

First, some background.  Employees exempt from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements as professional, executive, or administrative employees must be paid a salary of at least $455 per week. Under 29 C.F.R. § 541.602(a),

[a]n employee will be considered to be paid on a "salary basis" . . . if the employee regularly receives each pay period . … Continue Reading

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