Over the past few years, lower courts in Massachusetts have grappled with determining whether the “ABC test” under the independent-contractor statute provides the proper framework for assessing joint-employment liability. The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has finally answered that question.  On December 13, 2021, in Jinks v. Credico (USA) LLC, the SJC held that the independent-contractor statute’s “ABC test” does not apply and instead adopted the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) “totality of the circumstances” approach to joint employment.

Credico was a client broker for independent direct marketing companies. It contracted with DFW Consultants, Inc. (DFW) to provide sales and marketing services for its clients in Massachusetts. To provide those services, DFW hired three of the plaintiffs – Kyana Jinks, Antwione Taylor, and Lee Tremblay – as salespeople. DFW classified Jinks and Taylor as independent contractors and Tremblay as an employee.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rejects “ABC Test” for Determining Joint Employment Under Minimum Fair Wage Law

December is not the shortest month of the year, but it always seems to go by the fastest.

And with holidays and vacations, not to mention employees working remotely, it’s not unusual for matters to be put off until the new year — or for a project or two to fall through the cracks.

Often times, there are no real consequences if a project gets pushed off into the new year.

But that’s not the case with new state or local wage-hour laws.

As reflected in the charts below, minimum wages increased in dozens of states and localities when the new year rang in on January 1, 2022 – and exempt salary thresholds also increased in some states effective January 1, 2022.

Continue Reading Time Is Money: A Quick Wage-Hour Tip on … Did You Remember to Make Necessary Changes to Comply with New 2022 State and Local Wage-Hour Laws?

Before ringing in the New Year, employers should carefully evaluate whether they need to adjust their current practices to ensure that they remain compliant with state and local laws, including those relating to minimum wage and salary thresholds for exempt employees.

As reflected in the charts below, in 2022, minimum wages will increase in more than two dozen states and localities, with many changes taking effect January 1st. Accordingly, employers with minimum wage workers should consult with counsel to ensure that their compensation practices are compliant with the laws in all jurisdictions in which they operate. Employers should pay particular attention to the effective date to ensure compliance by the appropriate date.

Continue Reading Ringing in the New Year with Minimum Wage Increases and Revised Exempt Salary Thresholds

More than three years after its landmark decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, the United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana to determine whether Epic Systems extends to arbitration agreements that include waivers of representative actions brought under the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA).

Employers with operations in California, who have been plagued by the filing of boilerplate PAGA actions, could be heard to breathe a sigh of relief.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Set to Decide Whether <em>Epic Systems</em> Extends to PAGA Representative Claims

Misclassifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees is a costly mistake.  Among the many issues arising from misclassification is potential liability under federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws.  As the laws continue to change and develop, so do the risks to contracting entities.

Federal Changes

Continue Reading Time Is Money: A Quick Wage-Hour Tip on … Independent Contractor Classification

On Friday, October, 29, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule regarding how to determine which tipped employees may receive a “tip credit” in lieu of receiving the full minimum wage directly from the employer. The new rule restores the “80/20” rule rescinded under President Trump, requiring employers to pay employees at least the minimum wage if they spend more than 20% of their time working on tasks that do not specifically generate tips such as wiping down tables, filling salt and pepper shakers, and rolling silverware into napkins, or duties referred to in the industry as “side work.” The rule goes into effect on December 31, 2021 and the change represents continuation of a pattern that has continued across administrations with Presidents adopting and rescinding the rule over the past three administrations.

Continue Reading DOL Restores 80/20 Rule for Tipped Employees

The doctrine “joint employer” liability has received significant attention in recent months, including on this blog. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an employee may be deemed to have multiple employers—each of whom would be liable jointly for all aspects of FLSA compliance, including with regard to the payment of wages—in connection with his or her performance of the same work. During the prior administration, the U.S. DOL issued a rule intended to standardize the parameters of joint employer liability.  Months later, however, a federal court invalidated a portion of the new rule, holding that it impermissibly narrowed the scope of the joint employer doctrine. And, in July 2021, the DOL announced its outright repeal of the rule—i.e., whether a business might face joint employer liability will again be governed by the multi-factor “economic reality” test subject to varying judicial interpretations.

Continue Reading Time Is Money: A Quick Wage-Hour Tip on … New York’s New Rule on Contractors’ Liability for Subcontractor Employee Wages

On September 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the Garment Worker Protection Act, which makes California the first state to ban piece rate pay for garment workers, requiring instead that they be paid the minimum hourly wage.

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Manual defines piece rate as, “[w]ork paid for according to the number of units turned out … [that] must be based upon an ascertainable figure paid for completing a particular task or making a particular piece of goods.”

Continue Reading California Becomes First State to Ban Piece Rate Pay for Garment Workers

On June 1, 2021 the Southern District of Florida granted the motion by Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”) to compel arbitration, finding that the company’s drivers did not engage in sufficient interstate commerce to meet the interstate commerce exclusion in the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).

Plaintiffs Kathleen Short and Harold White brought a class action against Uber alleging that the company’s policy of classifying its drivers as independent contractors violates the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Florida Minimum Wage Act because the company failed to pay drivers the minimum wage. Uber sought to enforce its arbitration agreement which unambiguously required plaintiffs to pursue any potential claims in an individual arbitration.

Continue Reading Federal Court in Florida Rules That Federal Arbitration Act Exclusion Does Not Apply to Uber Drivers

Since the Supreme Court issued its seminal 2018 decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, acknowledging that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) permits the use of arbitration agreements with class action waivers, many employers have implemented arbitration programs for their employees. Those arbitration programs have been aimed, in no small part, at avoiding the class and collective actions that have overwhelmed employers, particularly in California.

In response, California passed AB 51, which prohibits imposing “as a condition of employment, continued employment, or the receipt of any employment-related benefit” the requirement that an individual “waive any right, forum or procedure” available under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and Labor Code.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Decision Holds That California Law Addressing Mandatory Arbitration Agreements May Go Into Effect