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As we previously reported, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a new final rule increasing the minimum salary amounts for the executive, administrative, and professional (EAP) and highly compensated employee exemptions. Shortly after the DOL announced its final rule, three lawsuits were filed in federal district courts in Texas challenging the DOL’s authority to increase the salary thresholds. However, despite these challenges, the first increase took effect on July 1, 2024 for all employers, except for the State of Texas as an employer.

State of Texas v. DOL

On May 22, 2024, a group of national business associations filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against the DOL challenging the final rule.[1] This lawsuit was later consolidated with a complaint filed in the same court by the State of Texas similarly challenging the final rule.[2] Notably, the consolidated action alleges that the final rule exceeds the DOL’s statutory authority under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), and that the final rule is arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the APA.

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In Elijah Baer, et al. v. Tesla Motors, Inc., fifteen plaintiffs filed a putative class and Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) representative action lawsuit against Tesla, Inc. (“Tesla”) alleging wage-hour violations of California law. Two of the plaintiffs were employed by Staffmark Investment LLC (“Staffmark”) – a non-party staffing agency – and assigned to work at Tesla for a period in 2020. The other plaintiffs were direct former or current employees of Tesla going back to 2017. After Tesla removed the action to federal court, it moved to compel arbitration.

The plaintiffs signed various arbitration agreements throughout their employment. From the fall of 2018 to May 2022, Tesla utilized a recruiting software called Averture. According to Tesla, Averture required applicants to create a secure online profile with their own personal information. Eight of the plaintiffs signed offer letters with Tesla through Averture containing an arbitration provision. These plaintiffs did not dispute that they signed, and Tesla countersigned, the offer letters.

At some point in 2022, Tesla stopped using Averture and started using a system called Inside Tesla. The security measures applicable to Averture were largely the same as those employed by Inside Tesla; however, applicants who were offered employment under Inside Tesla signed an offer letter and a standalone arbitration agreement. Four of the plaintiffs signed arbitration agreements through the Inside Tesla system.

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As featured in #WorkforceWednesday®: This week, we’re examining California Governor Gavin Newsom’s new deal that was brokered to amend the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA).  

Last week, Governor Newsom announced that California’s business and labor groups had come to an agreement to reform PAGA. Two legislative bills encompassing the agreed-upon PAGA reforms (AB 2288 and SB 92) were signed into law by Governor Newsom on July 1, 2024. Epstein Becker Green attorney Kevin Sullivan tells us more about the PAGA reforms, their potential impact on California employers, and who the likely winners and losers are.

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With an anticipated increase in workers no longer subject to exemption from overtime pay under a new U.S. Department of Labor rule that is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2024 (learn more here), employers will need to sharpen their pencils and make adjustments. What’s more, on that date, many states and localities will see a hike in minimum wage requirements.

Most of these jurisdictions will have straightforward rate adjustments, with a uniform increase across all industries. However, a somewhat more complicated and significant development comes out of California, which has raised minimum wage mandates for just one sector.

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On May 15, 2024, the New Jersey Supreme Court held in Maia v. IEW Construction Group that both the six-year look-back period and liquidated damages provided by the state Wage Theft Act (WTA) do not apply retroactively. Notably, the WTA’s extended statute of limitations will only apply to conduct that occurred after the WTA’s effective date—August 6, 2019. As such, employees filing suit before August 6, 2025 to recover unpaid wages may only recover for conduct occurring after the WTA’s effective date even though the relevant time period would not include the full six-year look-back period. Although the look-back period is now six years, if an employee files a lawsuit today, that employee would only be able to recover for conduct dating back to August 6, 2019 (which is a limitations period of less than 5 years). Similarly, employees may only recover liquidated damages—which were not previously available under the state wage and hour laws—for conduct occurring after the WTA’s effective date.

For background, the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (WHL) and the New Jersey Wage Payment Law (WPL) require employers timely pay their employees for all wages earned, including any overtime. In August 2019, New Jersey enacted the WTA, amending the WHL and WPL by adding liquidated damages and extending the statute of limitations from two years to six years. This means that, pursuant to the WTA amendments, employees who file suit seeking to recover unpaid wages may recover any unpaid wages within six years prior to the commencement of such lawsuit (often referred to as the “six-year look-back period”) plus liquidated damages up to 200% of the wages owed, together with costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

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As we have previously addressed, the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued its final rule raising salary thresholds for overtime exemptions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) effective January 1, 2025.

While there are legal challenges to the final rule, the DOL is offering webinars about the final rule to employers on May 30, 2024 and June 3, 2024.

Those webinars could certainly provide employers with valuable insights into the DOL’s approach. 

While the DOL may well encourage employers to make modifications immediately to comply with the final rule, the legal ...

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The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that in determining exemption from the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) for “workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce” — commonly referred to as the “transportation worker” exemption—courts must focus on workers’ job duties rather than the industry in which they work. Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries Park St., LLC. The ruling overturns a Second Circuit decision that held that the workers arguing exemption from the FAA did not qualify as transportation workers because they did not work in the transportation industry. The ...

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On April 23, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced a new final rule through which it has significantly raised the bar for businesses to continue to classify their employees as exempt from overtime pursuant to the executive, administrative and professional (“EAP”) and “highly compensated employee” exemptions. Specifically, the DOL announced substantial increases to the salary threshold requirements for these exemptions, which will take effect on a staggered basis on July 1, 2024, and again on January 1, 2025.  

The New Salary Thresholds

The salary ...

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Workday breaks can go a long way to reduce employees’ stress and fatigue on the job while also improving overall job satisfaction and productivity. It important for New York State employers and employees to familiarize themselves with the legal requirements of workplace breaks. This tip offers an overview of New York State workplace meal and rest period laws and provides guidance on how to remain in compliance.

Meal Periods

Meal Period Requirements

Generally, New York law requires employers to provide a meal break. Section 162 of the New York State Labor Law establishes the ...

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Washington, D.C. is poised to extend the reach of its minimum wage requirements. On January 10, 2024, Washington D.C. Mayor Bowser signed the Minimum Wage Clarification Amendment Act of 2023 (B25-0134) (the “Amendment”), which modifies the circumstances under which an employee must be paid the District of Columbia’s minimum wage.

Traditionally, D.C.’s wage and hour law has required employers to pay employees at least the D.C. minimum wage when they (i) perform more than 50% of their work in the District, or (ii) the employee is based in D.C., and “regularly spends a ...

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