Posts in Exemptions (general).
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More than a decade ago, Epstein Becker Green (EBG) created its complimentary wage-hour app, putting federal, state, and local wage-hour laws at employers’ fingertips.

The app provides important information about overtime, overtime exemptions, minimum wages, meal periods, rest periods, on-call time, and travel time, as well as tips that employers can use to remain compliant with the law and, hopefully, avoid class action, representative action, and collective action lawsuits and government investigations. 

As the laws have changed over the years, so too has EBG’s free ...

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On December 27, 2023, and just in time for the 2024 ball to drop, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) finalized the salary thresholds for exempt employees that were proposed as a part of Minimum Wage Order Updates in October 2023. Similarly, New York passed Senate Bill S5572 in September 2023, increasing the salary thresholds for exempt employees under Article 6 of the New York Labor Law.

As a reminder, the classification of exempt or non-exempt is particularly important for determining which employees are (1) exempt from the overtime laws, meaning that such employees are ...

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On August 30, 2023, in one of the U.S. Department of Labor’s most highly anticipated rulemakings of the year, the Wage and Hour Division announced the details of its forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the salary requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime exemption for executive, administrative, and professional employees.  In short, the Department has elected to go big, with the soon-to-be-published draft rule containing the following key elements:

  1. Increasing the minimum salary for the basic executive, administrative, and professional ...
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As we reported earlier this week, on February 22, 2023, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt, finding that a daily-rate worker who earned over $200,000 annually was not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA or Act) overtime requirements. The Court reasoned that, although the employee’s compensation exceeded the amount required under 29 C.F.R. § 541.601’s highly compensated employee (HCE) exemption, and he customarily and regularly performed at least one exempt duty (there, the “executive” duty of supervising a crew of workers), his employer did not pay him on a “salary basis” because he did not “receive a fixed amount for a week no matter how many days he … worked.”

Practically, Helix’s holding is unlikely to have broad consequences. Most employers pay employees who earn enough to qualify as an HCE (currently, $107,432 annually) and perform at least one exempt administrative, executive, or professional duty a predetermined salary. But employers who have classified non-salaried high earners as exempt HCEs will acutely feel its effects.

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More than a decade ago, Epstein Becker Green (EBG) created its complimentary wage-hour app, putting federal, state, and local wage-hour laws at employers’ fingertips.

The app provides important information about overtime exemptions, minimum wages, overtime, meal periods, rest periods, on-call time, travel time, and tips that employers can use to remain compliant with the law—and, hopefully, to avoid class action, representative action, and collective action lawsuits and government investigations. 

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work·week | \ ˈwərk-ˌwēk \

noun

Perhaps one of the most important terms of art under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), an employer’s designated workweek impacts nearly every aspect of an employee’s pay – from minimum wage and overtime to application of most exemptions. Let’s break down this concept.

What is a workweek?

The FLSA regulations define workweek as “a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours - seven consecutive 24-hour periods.” Contrary to popular belief, a workweek need not coincide with a calendar week, nor must it align with an employer’s hours of operation. Instead, it can begin on any day and at any hour of the day. However, the key is that once a workweek is determined, it must remain fixed regardless of the employees’ hours worked with limited exception.

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Neither fish nor fowl
Salaried with overtime
Brings pain and regret

We don’t see a lot of wage and hour poetry these days, but if we did, it would probably look a bit like the foregoing example from an anonymous former U.S. Department of Labor official.  When it comes to paying office workers who do not qualify for an overtime exemption, businesses often look for ways to treat those workers as much like exempt personnel as possible, including by paying wages in the form of a salary rather than hourly pay.  Salaried nonexempt status ordinarily starts with good motives, but it frequently ends with claims for unpaid overtime.  In this month’s Time Is Money segment, we explain that although paying overtime-eligible employees on a salary basis is a lawful, available option, it comes with significant risks that an employer must understand and navigate in order to pay these workers correctly.

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For more than 80 years, federal law has provided a general right to premium pay for working overtime hours, originally just for covered employees, then later for employees of covered enterprises.  The laws of more than 30 states contain a comparable requirement, though in some instances differing in the particulars.

This presumptive right to the overtime premium is, of course, subject to the familiar exemption construct whereby individuals whose employment satisfies one or more of the dozens of exempted categories fall outside the premium pay requirement.  Many of the most ...

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A sometimes-overlooked requirement for classifying an employee as exempt from overtime is that, with limited exceptions, the employee must be paid on a “salary basis.” [1] Indeed, when employers fail to pay their exempt employees on a salary basis, they may be subject to lawsuits alleging exempt misclassification. As such, properly paying employees on a salary basis is critical to classifying employees as exempt.

The General Rule

Among other requirements, in order for an employer to classify an employee as exempt from overtime, the employee generally must be paid on a ...

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The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (“WHD”) issued six opinion letters in January 2021.[1]  They address a number of important issues under the Fair Labor and Standards Act (“FLSA”).  To ensure wage and hour compliance, we recommend reviewing these letters closely and consulting counsel with any questions as to how they may apply to a specific business situation.

FLSA2021-1

In FLSA2021-1, the WHD addressed whether account managers employed by a life science products manufacturer were properly classified as exempt from the FLSA minimum wage and ...

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Given the ever-increasing number of wage-hour class and collective actions being filed against employers, it is no surprise that many employers have turned to arbitration agreements with class and collective action waivers as a first line of defense, particularly after the United States Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 Epic Systems v. Lewis decision.

If there is a common misconception about Epic Systems, however, it is that the Supreme Court concluded that all arbitration agreements with all employees are enforceable under all circumstances.  The Court reached no such ...

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While the COVID-19 pandemic remains a challenge to employers nationwide, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) continues to field non-COVID-related wage and hour questions.  On June 25, 2020, the WHD issued five new opinion letters addressing the outside sales, administrative, and retail or service establishment exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), as well as the relationship between third-party payments to workers and the FLSA’s minimum wage requirement.  Employers should take note of these useful explanations of key ...

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Employers grappling with workplace attendance issues in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus may soon face additional challenges resulting from a potential economic downturn.  Media stories are already beginning to report on potential furloughs and layoffs.  For some employers, reducing the workweek (e.g., from 5 working days to 4 working days) could be a reasonable business response.  But would reducing the workweek affect the overtime exemption for exempt employees?

That question has been answered by the Tenth Circuit in In re Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 395 F.3d 1177 (10th Cir ...

Blogs
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As previously discussed, Colorado has taken steps to increase the salary threshold for employees that fall under the “white collar” exemptions, following in the footsteps of Alaska, California, New York, Maine, and Washington State – and the federal Department of Labor. On January 22, 2020, the Colorado Department of Labor adopted the final Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order #36 (“COMPS Order”), which makes significant changes for both exempt and non-exempt employees. Most provisions become effective March 16, 2020, with the exception of the ...

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Most employers are well aware that employees must be paid on a “salary basis” to be considered exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). This means employees must receive the same amount of pay each week regardless of the amount or quality of work they perform for a given week. Accordingly, exempt employees must be paid their full weekly salary for any week in which they perform work, whether or not the employee has actually worked a full work week. See 29 C.F.R. § 541.602(a)(1).

One issue that may fly under the radar, however, is which ...

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In the fall of 2016, before the Obama administration increases to the minimum salary were set to go into effect (spoiler alert – they didn’t!), we wrote in this space about the challenges facing employers in addressing those expected changes: “Compliance with the New DOL Overtime Exemption Rule May Create Unexpected Challenges for Employers.

As we wrote earlier this week, the current administration’s changes are set to go into effect on January 1, 2020: “U.S. Department of Labor Issues Long-Awaited Final Rule Updating the Compensation Requirements for the FLSA’s ...

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For the past four-plus years, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has actively pursued revisions to the compensation requirements for the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime requirement.  On September 24, 2019, DOL issued its Final Rule implementing the following changes, effective January 1, 2020:

  • The new general minimum salary for these exemptions increases from the current level of $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $684 per week ($35,568 per year).
  • The new minimum annual compensation threshold for the ...
Blogs
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On March 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) released two opinion letters concerning the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). One letter addresses the interplay between New York State’s overtime exemption for residential janitors (colloquially referred to as apartment “supers”) and the FLSA, which does not exempt such employees, and the other addresses whether time spent participating in an employer’s optional volunteer program constitutes “hours worked” requiring compensation under the FLSA.

While these opinion ...

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As we wrote in this space just last week, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has proposed a new salary threshold for most “white collar” exemptions.  The new rule would increase the minimum salary to $35,308 per year ($679 per week) – nearly the exact midpoint between the longtime $23,600 salary threshold and the $47,476 threshold that had been proposed by the Obama Administration.  The threshold for “highly compensated” employees would also increase -- from $100,000 to $147,414 per year.

Should the proposed rule go into effect – and there is every reason to believe it ...

Blogs
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The U.S. Department of Labor has released a proposal to update the overtime rules under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers should be prepared to raise salaries to meet the minimum thresholds, pay overtime when appropriate, and otherwise adhere to the new rules if they go into effect.

Federal overtime provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). Unless exempt, employees covered by the FLSA must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. To be exempt from overtime (i.e., not entitled to receive overtime), an exemption must apply ...

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Featured on Employment Law This Week:  The Ninth Circuit held that certain auto service advisors were not exempt because their position is not specifically listed in the FLSA auto dealership exemption.

The 9th relied on the principle that such exemptions should be interpreted narrowly. In a 5-4 decision last week, the Supreme Court found no “textual indication” in the FLSA for narrow construction. Applying a “fair interpretation” standard instead, the Court ruled that the exemption applies to service advisors because of the nature of the work.

Watch the segment below ...

Blogs
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In many industries, sales are subject to ebbs and flows.  Sometimes the fish are biting; sometimes they aren’t.

A common device that employers with commissioned salespeople use to take the edge off of the slow weeks and to ensure compliance with minimum wage and overtime laws is the recoverable draw.  Under such a system, an employee who earns below a certain amount in commissions for a given period of time, often a week, receives an advance of as-yet unearned commissions to bring the employee’s earnings for the period up to a specified level.  Then in the next period, the employees’ ...

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The District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has denied the U.S. Department of Labor's application to stay the case in which the district court enjoined the DOL’s new overtime regulations. The DOL had asked the court for a stay while the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals considered an interlocutory appeal of the injunction.

As wage and hour practitioners know:

  • In May 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it would implement new regulations increasing the salary threshold for the executive, administrative, and professional overtime exemptions to $47,476 ($913 per ...
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The new episode of Employment Law This Week offers a year-end roundup of the biggest employment, workforce, and management issues in 2016:

  • Impact of the Defend Trade Secrets Act
  • States Called to Ban Non-Compete Agreements
  • Paid Sick Leave Laws Expand
  • Transgender Employment Law
  • Uncertainty Over the DOL’s Overtime Rule and Salary Thresholds
  • NLRB Addresses Joint Employment
  • NLRB Rules on Union Organizing

Watch the episode below and read EBG’s Take 5 newsletter, "Top Five Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Issues of 2016."

Blogs
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We have written more than a few times here about the new Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) overtime rules that were scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016, dramatically increasing the salary threshold for white collar exemptions.

Most recently, we wrote about the November 22, 2016 nationwide injunction entered by a federal judge in Texas, enjoining the Department of Labor (“DOL”) from enforcing those new rules on the grounds that the DOL had overstepped its bounds.

The injunction threw the new rules into a state of limbo, as employers and employees alike were left to ...

Blogs
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As we recently reported on our Wage & Hour Defense Blog, on November 22, 2016, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing its new overtime exemption rule that would have more than doubled the current salary threshold for the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions and was scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016. To the extent employers have not already increased exempt employees’ salaries or converted them to non-exempt positions, the injunction ...

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Most of us don’t think of window washers on high rise buildings as employees who qualify for an exemption from overtime pay.  But under an unusual set of facts, this is precisely what the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held in Alvarado v. Corporate Cleaning Services, Inc., 782 F.3d 365 (7th Cir. 2015).

Corporate Cleaning Services (“CCS”) provided window washing services to high rise buildings.  When it received an order for a window washing job, it calculated a number of points, based on the job’s complexity and the number of hours estimated to complete it, to determine the price ...

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More than a year after its efforts were first announced, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has finally announced its proposed new rule pertaining to overtime. And that rule, if implemented, will result in a great many “white collar” employees previously treated as exempt becoming eligible for overtime pay for work performed beyond 40 hours in a workweek – or receiving salary increases in order that their exempt status will continue.

In 2014, President Obama directed the DOL to enhance the “white collar” exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA” ...

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As readers of this blog know, EBG’s free wage-hour app is now available for download on Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices. The app puts federal wage-hour laws and those of many states at users’ fingertips.

Now, the app also includes 7 checklists that employers should find helpful.

Each of the following checklists can be accessed through the “Downloads” icon on the app, then downloaded in seconds:

  • Applying the Administrative Exemption
  • Applying the Computer Employee Exemption
  • Applying the Executive Exemption
  • Applying the Highly Compensated Employee Exemption
Blogs
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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 ...

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by Elizabeth B. Bradley

On July 2, 2013, in Mortgage Bankers Ass’n v. DOL, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated a DOL Administrative Interpretation issued in 2010 which declared that Mortgage Loan Officers are not exempt from the FLSA overtime requirements. 

Does this mean that employers can now covert their Mortgage Loan Officers to exempt, salaried, compensation plan? Not likely.

The Court of Appeals ruling vacated the DOL Administrative Interpretation on a technicality – the Court found that the DOL failed to provide the required public notice and ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Wage and hour investigations and class action lawsuits continue to be a potentially serious problem for many employers, resulting in an abundance of new cases filed and many large settlements procured.  In addition, in September 2011, under the guidance of the Obama Administration, the Department of Labor and IRS announced an effort to coordinate with each other to address misclassification of employees as independent contractors, which is resulting in additional investigations, fines, and/or legal liability levied on an employer.

Click here to register for this complimentary ...

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Wage Hour laws and regulations are complex, non-intuitive, and constantly changing.  Mistakes in wage and salary administration have led to class actions resulting in six and seven figure recoveries against the most sophisticated employers - banks and major industrial giants as well as smaller employers without in-house legal and high level Human Resources officials.  Peter M. Panken, Lauri Rasnick and Douglas Weiner in our New York Office have recently authored an article in conjunction with a major national Continuing Legal Education program in Washington entitled: “ ...

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By Amy Traub and Desiree Busching

On February 1, 2012, a former intern of the Hearst Corporations’ Harper’s Bazaar filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of herself and others similarly situated. The lawsuit alleges that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and applicable state laws by failing to pay minimum wage and overtime to interns. The use of unpaid interns is a widespread practice, especially in the retail, publication, and real estate industries, as well as in Hollywood. In fact, in September 2011, a similar lawsuit was filed against Fox ...

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By John F. Fullerton, III, Douglas Weiner, and Meg Thering

The plague of lawsuits for unpaid overtime compensation by employees who claim that they were misclassified by their current or former employer as “exempt” from overtime under the “administrative” exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act shows no signs of receding.  These lawsuits continue to present challenges to employers, not just in terms of the burdens and costs of defending the cases, but in the uncertainty of the potential financial exposure.

Read the full article online

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By Dean Silverberg, Evan Spelfogel, Peter Panken, Douglas Weiner, and Donald Krueger

Reversing its prior stance, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposes to extend the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to domestic workers who provide in-home care services to the elderly and infirm. See Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Amend the Companionship and Live-In Worker Regulations. In 1974, when domestic service workers were first included in FLSA coverage, the DOL published regulations that provided an exemption for such ...

Blogs
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By Peter M. Panken, Michael S. Kun, Douglas Weiner, and Larissa Lalor-Rosado

Misclassification of employees as exempt from overtime compensation has become a cottage industry for plaintiff’s lawyers and for the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) in the Obama years.  One of the most difficult issues is whether employees meet the so-called administrative exemption to the Wage Hour laws.  In Hines v. State Room, the United States Circuit Court in New England offered some clarity and help to beleaguered employers holding that former banquet sales managers were exempt ...

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By David Garland and Douglas Weiner

In February 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit gave a resounding victory to employers in the pharmaceutical industry by finding that pharmaceutical sales representatives are covered by the outside sales exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham, No. 10-15257 (9th Cir. Feb. 14, 2011). Plaintiffs, and the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) in an amicus brief, had argued the exemption did not apply because sales reps are prohibited from making the final sale. Prescription ...

Blogs
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By Douglas Weiner and Meg Thering

On October 20, 2011, the Computer Professionals Update Act (“the CPU Act”) – one of the first potential pieces of good news for employers this year – was introduced in the U.S. Senate.  If passed, the CPU act would expand the computer employee exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  S. 1747

Unlike much of the other legislation affecting employers that has been proposed or passed this year, the CPU Act would make business easier for employers and decrease the risk of employee misclassification lawsuits.  If the proposed ...

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by David W. Garland

During the last year, courts have reached different conclusions as to whether outside sales representatives of pharmaceutical companies are exempt and therefore not entitled to receive overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. These cases turned on the specific duties assigned to the sales representatives by their employers and point out that pharmaceutical companies need to review carefully the responsibilities of these employees.

In Smith v. Johnson & Johnson, 593 F.3d 280 (3d Cir. 2010), decided by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in ...

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Last summer fifteen United States senators wrote an open letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to urge the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") to repeal the Domestic Service exemption from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the ("FLSA") for home health care workers. Secretary Solis has expressed support for the effort to review this exemption, with a view toward closing this "loophole."

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