Posts tagged DOL.
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On September 13, 2023, the United States Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to enforce federal laws and regulations that advance equal employment opportunity and fair pay. The MOU outlines procedures for the agencies to increase their coordination in information sharing, joint investigations, trainings, and outreach efforts.

I. Information Sharing

The MOU allows the agencies to consolidate and share information on issues ...

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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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On April 28, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded a decision from the Western District of Texas declining to issue a preliminary injunction barring the Department of Labor (“DOL”) from enforcing a regulation known as the “80/20/30 rule.”

As we previously reported, on October 29, 2021, the DOL issued a final rule for determining which tipped employees may receive “tip credit” in lieu of receiving the full minimum wage directly from the employer.  Under the 80/20/30 rule, employers must pay employees at least the minimum wage if they spend more than 20% of their time on tasks that do not immediately and directly generate tips, including wiping down tables, filling salt and pepper shakers, rolling silverware into napkins, and other duties referred to in the industry as “side work,” or if they spend more than 30 consecutive minutes performing such tasks.  The Restaurant Law Center and the Texas Restaurant Association promptly sought a preliminary injunction in the Western District of Texas.

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On October 25, 2022, the Department of Labor extended the comment period for its new proposed rule regarding independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. While the comment period was originally set to expire on November 28, 2022, interested parties will now have until December 13, 2022 to submit comments.

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In light of the federal court ruling reinstating the Trump-era independent contractor regulation (discussed here), on October 13, 2022, the Department of Labor published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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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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As COVID-19 restrictions have continued to loosen or be lifted altogether, employees have gradually resumed working in the office—and traveling away from it for work-related reasons.  When it comes to travel time in the employment context, the answer to the question, “Do I need to pay for that?” often has no straightforward answer.  Rather, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) regulations, whether time an employee spends traveling is compensable depends on the type of travel.  In this month’s Time Is Money segment, we provide a refresher on when and how employers must pay employees for travel time.

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As discussed here, in January 2021, in the waning days of the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a Final Rule setting forth for the first time a standard for differentiating employees and independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The scheduled effective date of the new rule was March 8, 2021.

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A number of years ago, I received a kind note around the holidays from my opposing counsel in a wage-hour class action, thanking me and my firm for being their “partners” in addressing employment issues.

Maybe the word he used wasn’t “partners,” but it was something close to it.

At first, I must admit that I thought he was joking.

Then I realized that this attorney, for whom I have great respect, got it.

He got that employers are not looking to violate employment laws, and that the attorneys who represent them are not trying to help their clients violate the laws.

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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

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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.

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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.

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On June 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new proposed rule related to when an employer may take a tip credit and pay a lower minimum wage to tipped employees performing so-called tipped and non-tipped duties.  The proposed rule appeared in the Federal Register on June 23, 2021 and is open for public comment until August 23, 2021.  The proposal shows employers the new road that President’s Biden’s administration is paving, which is a sharp turn away from the Trump administration’s approach.

The Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA) allows employers to pay ...

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As we previously discussed, in early January 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a Final Rule regarding independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  On May 5, 2021, in line with the policy goals of the new administration, the Department issued a Final Rule withdrawing the January Final Rule.  The withdrawal went into effect on May 6, 2021, upon the publication in the Federal Register (86 FR 24303).  The January independent contractor rule was originally to go into effect in March, before the Department issued a notice of proposed rulemaking proposing to ...

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As featured in #WorkforceWednesdayThis week on our special podcast series, Employers and the New Administration, we look at how the Biden administration’s approach to wage and hour issues will impact employers. Special podcast episodes air every other #WorkforceWednesday.

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has already adopted the Biden administration’s commitment to enforcement, its movement against arbitration agreements, and a fresh view on worker classification. What other wage and hour developments can employers expect under ...

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On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) issued an Opinion Letter applying the Department’s recently-issued Final Rule concerning Independent Contractor Status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “Final Rule”).  This Opinion Letter provides helpful guidance to businesses, especially those in highly-regulated industries, on how to properly structure their relationships with independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

As background, the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay ...

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On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor released its much-anticipated Final Rule addressing independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The Department indicates that the rulemaking should appear in the Federal Register on January 7, 2021, with an effective date 60 days thereafter.

The Final Rule is, in substance, very similar to the Proposed Rule the Department issued in September 2020 (and discussed here).  Under the Final Rule, the key points are as follows:

  • The “ultimate inquiry” is whether an individual is “economically dependent” on ...
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At the time we are posting this, we are just weeks away from the inauguration of President-Elect Joseph Biden. Although perhaps not at the very top of the list of questions about the forthcoming Biden administration, somewhere on the list has to be this question: “What changes will we see in wage-hour law?”

We don’t have the proverbial crystal ball, but there are a number of issues that the Biden administration may focus on at some point during the next four years, be it through legislation, new rules implemented by the Department of Labor (DOL) or even executive orders.  They may ...

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On September 8, 2020, a federal district court struck down the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule on joint employer liability, concluding that the Rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) by impermissibly narrowing the definition of joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), departing from the DOL’s prior interpretations on joint employment without adequate explanation, and otherwise being arbitrary and capricious.  We previously blogged about the details of the Final Rule here.  The DOL published the Final Rule in ...

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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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The times they are a-changin’ and Washington’s rules relating to overtime pay are changing with them. Effective July 1, 2020, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (“L&I”) has updated the criteria for workers to be exempt from receiving overtime pay, paid sick leave, and other requirements under the state Minimum Wage Act. These changes affect executive, administrative, and professional workers, as well as outside salespeople and computer professionals across all industries in Washington State.

Overtime exemption rules generally require “white ...

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As employers continue to deal with workplace issues related to COVID-19, you should be aware that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) has indicated that it will be investigating allegations of wage and hour violations that have occurred as a result of the rapid workforce changes undertaken by many organizations earlier this year.   Unfortunately, as you may know, the WHD rarely announces those investigations in advance and, instead, employers typically learn of them when a letter arrives announcing 72 hours’ notice to produce payroll records, or a ...

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For the second time this week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) has issued a Final Rule involving the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”).  Following closely on the heels of the revisions to the section 7(i) exemption regulations discussed here, on May 20, 2020 WHD released its revisions to the regulations regarding the “fluctuating workweek” method of paying overtime to salaried non-exempt employees.  And, as with the 7(i) Final Rule, the fluctuating workweek Final Rule eliminates confusion caused by WHD’s ...

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From the time of its original enactment in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act has contained an exemption for certain employees of a “retail or service establishment.”  In 1961, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) issued interpretive guidance to aid in determining whether an establishment is or is not “retail or service” for purposes of what was then the section 13(a)(2) overtime and minimum wage exemption.  Part of the test includes whether the business is in an industry in which a “retail concept” exists.  See 29 C.F.R. § 779.316.  WHD created ...

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Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requires employers to compensate their non-exempt employees for all time that they are required or allowed to perform work, regardless of where and when the work is done.  However, an exception exists for small amounts of time that are otherwise compensable work time but challenging to record, otherwise known as the de minimis doctrine.  Of course, the million-dollar question is how much time is considered de minimis.  Unfortunately, there is no bright-line rule and the answer may differ under federal law and California law, or ...

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Our colleagues Jeffrey H. Ruzal, Denise M. Dadika, Maxine H. Neuhauser, and Eduardo J. Quiroga have co-authored an Act Now Advisory that will be of interest to our readers: "Department of Labor Issues OSHA, Wage/Hour, and FMLA Guidance Addressing COVID-19."

Following is an excerpt:

In response to the spreading 2019 novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic, which has now been declared a national emergency by President Trump, the Department of Labor has released guidance to employers, summarized more fully below:

    • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ...
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On Thursday, January 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) published in the Federal Register the much-anticipated Final Rule regarding joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  This rule completes the rulemaking process initiated in early April of last year, when WHD published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), which we discussed here.

The new standards reflected in the Final Rule become effective, barring court action in the interim, on March 16, 2020.  This interval of just 342 days from publication of the NPRM ...

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In its first installment of opinions letters in 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) addressed two issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”): (i) the salary basis requirements in the context of per-project compensation arrangements and (ii) calculation of overtime pay for employees who receive nondiscretionary lump-sum bonus payments earned over time and not tied to a specific period.  (A third letter, FMLA2020-1-A, considered FMLA requirements vis-à-vis public employees.)  While neither of these FLSA opinion letters ...

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It seems as though there is a minefield that employers must navigate to ensure that they fulfill their wage and hour obligations to their employees. Employers must somehow comply with overlapping and seemingly contradictory federal, state, district, county, and local requirements. The wave of civil actions that are filed against employers alleging wage and hour violations is not slowing. And given the potential financial consequences for non-compliance, illustrated in part by a $102 million award for technical paystub violations, meeting these requirements must be a ...

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As winter once again approaches, employers, particularly those in cold-weather states, face the recurring specter of inclement weather affecting business operations and employee attendance.  While the weather may create stress and disruption for a business and its people, employers must not lose sight of the fact that the rules governing how you pay your employees continue to apply throughout any weather event.

There are five main rules that employers need to keep in mind when bad weather strikes:

1. If a business closes for any amount of time less than a full workweek, it must ...

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On December 16, 2019, the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) published in the Federal Register a Final Rule updating the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) regulations that govern, among other things, whether certain types of pay and benefits constitute part of a non-exempt employee’s regular rate of pay for purposes of calculating overtime under federal law.  Under section 7(e) of the FLSA, an employee’s regular rate for any given workweek “shall be deemed to include all remuneration for employment paid to, or on behalf of the ...

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After a false start three years ago, the federal Department of Labor (“DOL”) will finally be rolling out an increased minimum salary threshold for employees qualifying under the “white collar” exemptions. The increase in the salary threshold for professional, administrative, and executive exemptions (making up the “white collar” exemptions) under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) will become effective on January 1, 2020.

In order to qualify for one of these exemptions, there are three elements to meet:

  • The employee must be paid on a salary basis ...
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On August 26, 2019, we wrote of the plan by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) to update the Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”) regulations on calculating overtime pay for salaried non-exempt workers to allow employers to include additional forms of compensation in the so-called “fluctuating workweek” calculations.  Under a fluctuating workweek calculation, an employer divides all of an employee’s relevant compensation for a given workweek by the total number of hours the employee worked in the week to derive the regular rate for that ...

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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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What is considered compensable travel time pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is not always clear or intuitive to employers, even for those who usually have a good handle on wage and hour laws. This blog post hopefully will simplify the requirements set forth in the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) regulations and interpretive guidance to help clarify when employees must be paid for travel time.

Ordinary Home-to-Work Travel

Likely not a surprise for most employers, employees are not entitled to pay for time that they normally spend commuting between their ...

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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 ...
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On August 22, 2019, in Trina Ray et al. v. County of Los Angeles and Trina Ray et al. v. Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, Case Numbers 17-56581 and 18-55276, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that home care workers may sue Los Angeles County for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

Until recently, California home care workers (also known as companions) whose wages are paid by state or county programs were exempt from state and federal overtime laws. Beginning on January 1, 2015, however, a new Department of Labor ...

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As part of its spring 2019 regulatory agenda, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) will consider a proposed revision to the Fair Labor Standard Act’s (“FLSA”) regulations on calculating overtime pay for workers whose hours fluctuate from week to week.

Generally, non-exempt employees covered by the FLSA must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek at a rate at least time and one-half their regular rates of pay – the standard calculation of overtime.  However, the FLSA provides an alternative method of calculating ...

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) shows no signs of fatigue as it releases two new opinion letters on the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) within the first week of August.  These opinion letters address the FLSA’s partial overtime exemption on a “work period basis” and the status of public agency volunteers.  As we have previously advised, employers should read the WHD’s opinion letters carefully and consult with experienced counsel with any questions about their practices vis-à-vis WHD interpretive guidance.

FLSA Section 7(k)

As ...

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) has issued an opinion letter addressing the compensability of a long-haul truck driver time in a truck’s sleeper berth during multi-day trips.  While this question is highly fact-specific, the WHD’s response offers a useful refresher on the widely applicable Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) concepts of compensability of waiting, sleeping, and traveling time.

In Opinion Letter FLSA2019-10, issued on July 23, 2019, the employer operates a fleet of trucks, licensed by the Department of Transportation to ...

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After a brief, two-month hiatus, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (“WHD”) has issued another round of opinion letters answering various questions submitted by the public.  Specifically, these opinion letters address the calculation of overtime pay for nondiscretionary bonuses, the application of the highly compensated employee exemption to paralegals, and rounding hours worked under the Service Contract Act (“SCA”).  This guidance marks the first issued by the new Wage and Hour Administrator Cheryl Stanton, who has been in the seat since April.

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On April 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued an opinion letter concluding that workers providing services to customers referred to them through an unidentified virtual marketplace are properly classified as independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

Although the opinion letter is not “binding” authority, the DOL’s guidance should provide support to gig economy businesses defending against claims of independent contractor misclassification under the FLSA. The opinion letter may also be of value to businesses ...

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Our colleagues Adriana S. Kosovych, Jeffrey H. Ruzal, and Steven M. Swirsky at Epstein Becker Green have a post on the Hospitality Labor and Employment Law blog that will be of interest to our readers: “DOL Proposes New Rule to Determine Joint Employer Status under the FLSA.”

Following is an excerpt:

In the first meaningful revision of its joint employer regulations in over 60 years, on Monday, April 1, 2019 the Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposed a new rule establishing a four-part test to determine whether a person or company will be deemed to be the joint employer of persons ...

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The Acting Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recently issued opinion letters addressing (i) the 8-and-80 overtime pay system available to certain healthcare employers; (ii) the overtime exemption for teachers, and (iii) the exemption for employees in agriculture.  The analyses and conclusions in those opinion letters are instructive for employers not only in those industries, but in many other industries as well, because they confirm the Department’s commitment to construing FLSA exemptions fairly rather than narrowly.

“8 ...

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A Trending News interview from Employment Law This Week: New Proposed Overtime Rule.

Paul DeCamp discusses the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") issued its long-awaited proposed overtime rule on March 7, 2019. This proposed rule would take the place of the Obama-era overtime rule that was blocked by a Texas federal judge in 2017.

Watch the interview below and read our recent post.

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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 ...

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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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As we previously shared in this blog, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) issued an opinion letter in November 2018 changing the Department’s position regarding whether and when an employer with tipped employees, such as a restaurant, can pay an employee a tipped wage less than the federal minimum wage.

The issue was whether an employer must pay a tipped employee the full minimum wage for time spent performing what the industry calls “side work”: tasks such as clearing tables or filling salt and pepper shakers that do not immediately generate ...

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True to its promise last year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (the “WHD”) continues to issue a steady stream of opinion letters designed to offer practical guidance to employers on specific wage and hour issues solicited by employers. This past week, the WHD issued two new opinion letters concerning the Fair Labor and Standards Act (“FLSA”), where one addresses an employer’s hourly pay methodology vis-à-vis the FLSA’s minimum wage requirement, and the other the ministerial exception to the FLSA. While not universally applicable, employers ...

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Featured on Employment Law This Week:  The Department of Labor (“DOL”) rolls back the 80/20 rule.

The rule prohibited employers from paying the tipped minimum wage to workers whose untipped side work—such as wiping tables—accounted for more than 20 percent of their time. In the midst of a federal lawsuit challenging the rule, the DOL reissued a 2009 opinion letter that states that the agency will not limit the amount of side work a tipped employee performs, as long as that work is done “contemporaneously” with the tipped work or for a “reasonable time” before or after ...

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Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), employers can satisfy their minimum wage obligations to tipped employees by paying them a tipped wage of as low as $2.13 per hour, so long as the employees earn enough in tips to make up the difference between the tipped wage and the full minimum wage. (Other conditions apply that are not important here.) Back in 1988, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division amended its Field Operations Handbook, the agency’s internal guidance manual for investigators, to include a new requirement the agency sought to apply to ...

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Changes to the white collar exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) are coming slowly.  Very, very slowly.  Back in May 2016, under the Obama Administration, the Department of Labor issued a Final Rule updating the regulations for the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime executive, administrative, and professional exemptions.  That rule would, among other things, have increased the minimum salary required for most employees within these exemptions from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) to $913 a week ($47,476 a year).  In November 2016, a federal judge in Texas enjoined ...

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Last Friday, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2018-4 to help guide the DOL Wage and Hour Division field staff as to the correct classification of home care, nurse, or caregiver registries under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). This is the most recent piece of guidance on a topic first addressed by the DOL in a 1975 Opinion Letter. The bulletin is noteworthy in two respects. First, it confirms that the DOL continues to view a registry that simply refers caregivers to clients but controls no terms or conditions of the caregiver’s ...

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On May 3, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order (“Order”) establishing a Task Force on Employee Misclassification (“Task Force”) to address concerns surrounding the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. The Order estimates that misclassification may deprive New Jersey of over $500 million yearly in tax revenue and deprive workers of employment-related benefits and protections to which they are entitled.

The Task Force’s mandate is to provide advice and recommendations to the Governor’s Office and Executive Branch ...

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On April 12, 2018, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued the first Opinion Letters since the Bush administration, as well as a new Fact Sheet.  The Obama administration formally abandoned Opinion Letters in 2010, but Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta has restored the practice of issuing these guidance documents.  Opinion Letters, as Secretary Acosta states in the DOL’s April 12 press release, are meant to explain “how an agency will apply the law to a particular set of facts,” with the goal of increasing employer compliance with the Fair ...

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For more than 70 years, the Supreme Court has construed exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) narrowly. In A.H. Phillips, Inc. v. Walling, for example, the Court stated that “[t]o extend an exemption to other than those plainly and unmistakably within its terms and spirit is to abuse the interpretative process and to frustrate the announced will of the people.”  324 U.S. 490, 493 (1945).  The Supreme Court has restated this rule many times in the intervening years, and the lower courts have followed, citing this principle in virtually every significant case ...

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In a move allowing increased flexibility for employers and greater opportunity for unpaid interns to gain valuable industry experience, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2018-2, adopting the “primary beneficiary” test used by several federal appellate courts to determine whether unpaid interns at for-profit employers are employees for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act. If interns are, indeed, deemed employees, they must be paid minimum wage and overtime, and cannot serve as interns without pay. The ...

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Federal regulations have long provided that employees whose wages are subject to a tip credit must retain all tips they receive, with the exception that customarily tipped employees -- i.e. front-of the-house service employees -- are permitted to share in tips received.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) amended its tip regulations to limit tip pool participation to front-of-the-house employees regardless of whether a tip credit was applied to their wages.

Employers and hospitality industry advocacy groups reacted by filing lawsuits throughout the country ...

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As we have discussed previously, in early September the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) withdrew its appeal of last November’s ruling from the Eastern District of Texas preliminarily enjoining the Department’s 2016 Final Rule that, among other things, more than doubled the minimum salary required to satisfy the Fair Labor Standards Act’s executive, administrative, and professional exemptions from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year).  The DOL abandoned its appeal in light of the district court’s ruling on August 31, 2017 granting ...

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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’ ...

Blogs
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A year ago, employers across the country prepared for the implementation of a new overtime rule that would dramatically increase the salary threshold for white-collar exemptions, on the understanding that the new rule would soon go into effect “unless something dramatic happens,” a phrase we and others used repeatedly.

And, of course, something dramatic did happen—a preliminary injunction, followed by a lengthy appeal, which itself took more left turns following the U.S. presidential election than a driver in a NASCAR race. The effect was to put employers in a constant ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

Earlier today, the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in cases involving the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) “80/20 Rule” regarding what is commonly referred to as “sidework” in the restaurant industry.  Agreeing with the arguments made by our new colleague Paul DeCamp, among others, the Ninth Circuit issued a decidedly employer-friendly decision.  In so doing, it disagreed with the Eighth Circuit, potentially setting the issue up for resolution by the United States Supreme Court.

As those in the restaurant industry are aware, restaurant workers and other tipped ...

Blogs
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When: Thursday, September 14, 2017 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 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:

  • Immigration
  • Global Executive Compensation
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internal Cyber Threats
  • Pay Equity
  • People Analytics in Hiring
  • Gig Economy
  • Wage and Hour
  • Paid and Unpaid Leave
  • Trade Secret Misappropriation
  • Ethics

We will start the day with two morning Plenary Sessions. The first session is kicked off ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

When an employer pays the minimum wage (or more) instead of taking the tip credit, who owns any tips – the employer or the employee? In Marlow v. The New Food Guy, Inc., No. 16-1134 (10th Cir. June 30, 2017), the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held they belong to the employer, who presumably can then either keep them or distribute them in whole or part to employees as it sees fit. This directly conflicts with the Ninth Circuit’s decision last year in Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Ass’n v. Perez, 816 F.3d 1080, 1086-89 (9th Cir. 2016), pet for cert. filed, No. 16-920 ...

Blogs
Clock 3 minute read

In a much anticipated filing with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal in State of Nevada, et a. v. United States Department of Labor, et al, the United States Department of Labor has made clear that it is not defending the Obama Administration’s overtime rule that would more than double the threshold for employees to qualify for most overtime exemptions. However, the Department has taken up the appeal filed by the previous Administration to reverse the preliminary injunction issued blocking implementation of the rule, requesting that the Court overturn as erroneous the Eastern ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

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 ...
Blogs
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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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Berger v. National Collegiate Athletic Association,
No. 14-cv-1710 (7th Cir. Dec. 5, 2016)

Colleges and universities, at least in the jurisdiction of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, surely breathed a collective sigh of relief earlier this month when the Court held that student athletes were not employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and thus were not entitled to minimum wage.

Former student athletes at the University of Pennsylvania sued Penn, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) and over 120 other colleges and universities that have ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

Even employers who were opposed to the new overtime regulations are in a quandary after the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas enjoined the Department of Labor from implementing new salary thresholds for the FLSA’s “white collar” exemptions.

Will the injunction become permanent?  Will it be upheld by the Fifth Circuit? 

Will the Department of Labor continue to defend the case when the Trump Administration is in place? 

What does the rationale behind the District Court’s injunction (that the language of the FLSA suggests exempt status should be determined based ...

Blogs
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Barring some unexpected development or a last-minute injunction in one of the lawsuits challenging the new Department of Labor overtime rules, the new salary thresholds for white collar exemptions will go into effect on December 1, 2016.

That, of course, is now less than two weeks away.

We have written at length about those new rules, as well as the critical decisions that employers will need to make to comply with them:

  • Whether to increase employees’ salaries to meet the new thresholds;
  • Whether to reclassify employees as non-exempt and begin to pay them hourly rates, plus overtime;
Blogs
Clock 4 minute read

On January 20, 2016, the DOL issued Wage and Hour Division Administrator’s Interpretation 2016-1 (“AI”) providing that businesses that use employees of third parties may be considered “joint employers” of those workers for purposes of compliance with the FLSA. The genesis of the joint-employment AI is the DOL’s expectation that businesses may seek to avoid the high costs and potential liabilities of maintaining their own employee workforce.

Although this AI is less than a year old, there are longstanding federal regulations on joint employment stating that when the ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

Perhaps in response to protests brought by employees and their advocates in recent years, states, counties, and cities across America have been increasing their minimum wage in piecemeal fashion. Few employers are fortunate enough to need worry about only one minimum wage—the federal minimum wage that is the floor below which employers may not go (unless an employer is not covered under the FLSA). Most large employers that operate in multiple states must now navigate a minimum-wage patchwork in which the hourly rate varies from state to state and, sometimes, between counties and ...

Blogs
Clock 6 minute read

Over the past year, there has been an increased discussion of Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requirements for tipped employees. The courts have focused on a number of issues related to tipped employees, including addressing who can participate in tip pools and whether certain deductions may be made from tips. While the FLSA requires employers to pay a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour in most cases, Section 203(m) of the FLSA provides that employers may take a “tip credit” and pay as little as $2.13 per hour to employees who customarily and regularly receive tips, so long as two ...

Blogs
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In May of this year, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced its final rule to increase the minimum salary for white-collar exemptions, effective December 1, 2016. With less than two months to go before that new rule takes effect, employers still have time to decide how to address those otherwise exempt employees whose current salaries would not satisfy the new rule, by either increasing their salaries or converting them to non-exempt status.

The New Salary Thresholds

Effective December 1, 2016, the salary threshold for the executive, administrative, and professional ...

Blogs
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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 ...

Blogs
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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
Blogs
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A group of 21 states ("the States") has filed a Complaint in the Eastern District of Texas challenging the new regulations from U.S. Department of Labor that re-define the white collar exemptions to the overtime requirements of the FLSA.  The States argue the DOL overstepped its authority by, among other things, establishing a new minimum salary threshold for those exemptions.

Pursuant to the new regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor, effective December 1, 2016:

  • the salary threshold for the executive, administrative, and professional exemption will effectively double ...
Blogs
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In a "Tip of the Week" segment on Employment Law This Week, Will Hansen, Senior Vice President of Retirement Policy for The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), offers some advice on preparing a benefits program in advance of the Department of Labor’s overtime rule:

"The Department of Labor's Final Rule increasing the overtime exemption threshold to $47,476 dollars will not only have an impact on the wages an employee receives, but also the benefits that they receive. In advance of these changes taking effect on December 1st, it's important for companies to review their benefit ...

Blogs
Clock 6 minute read

In May, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced its final rule to increase the minimum salary for white collar exemptions.  With little more than two months to go before that new rule takes effect on December 1, 2016, employers still have time to decide how to address those otherwise exempt employees whose current salaries would not satisfy the new rule by either increasing their salaries or converting them to non-exempt status.

But some of those decisions may not be easy ones.  And they may create some unexpected challenges, both financially and operationally.

New Salary ...

Blogs
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[caption id="attachment_2734" align="alignright" width="113"] Julie Badel[/caption]

Addressing an unusual set of facts, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has dismissed a suit challenging an employer’s practice of retaining tips that customers give to valets. The plaintiff in Malivuk v. Ameripark, No. 1:15:cv-2570 WSD (N.D. Ga. 2016), alleged that she was promised an hourly wage plus tips but that her employer, who provided valet parking services, retained a portion of the tips.

The defendant moved to dismiss the case because the plaintiff did not ...

Blogs
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Our colleagues Denise Merna Dadika and Brian W. Steinbach, attorneys in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice at Epstein Becker Green, have a post on the Health Employment and Labor blog that will be of interest to many of our readers: "U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review DOL Home Care Rule"

Following is an excerpt:

On Monday, June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the new U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) requirement that home care providers pay the federal minimum wage and overtime to home care ...

Blogs
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Nearly a year after the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address an increase in the minimum salary for white collar exemptions, the DOL has announced its final rule, to take effect on December 1, 2016.

While the earlier notice had indicated that the salary threshold for the executive, administrative, and professional exemption would be increased from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $50,440 ($970 per week), the final rule will not raise the threshold that far.  Instead, it will raise it to $47,476 ($913 per week).

According to the DOL’s Fact Sheet,

Blogs
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Brian W. Steinbach, attorney at Epstein Becker Green, has a post on the Hospitality Labor and Employment Law Blog that will be of interest to many of our readers: “Southern District of New York’s Rejection of FLSA Settlement Highlights Need to Settle on Terms That Will Pass Judicial Muster.”

Following is an excerpt:

In rejecting the terms of a collective action settlement in Yun v. Ippudo USA Holdings, No. 14-CV-8706 (S.D.N.Y. March 24, 2016) the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has confirmed the significance of last year’s Second Circuit ...

Blogs
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[caption id="attachment_2607" align="alignright" width="300"] Infographic by DOL Wage and Hour Division.[/caption]

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which is charged with enforcing federal wage laws, has just issued its latest newsletter.

Included in the newsletter is the Division’s presentation of a variety of statistics relating to its efforts.

Among the statistics reported by the Division:

  • It has assisted more than 1.7 million workers since 2009.
  • It has recovered approximately $1.6 billion for workers since 2009.
  • It recovered more than $246 million ...
Blogs
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One of the featured stories on Employment Law This Week is the Department of Labor's proposed fiduciary rule heading to the White House.

The new rule would impose stricter conflict-of-interest rules and fiduciary requirements on advisors working with retirement plans and investors. Critics of the DOL proposal have charged that it would prevent workers who cannot afford highly individualized advice from receiving basic retirement planning services. As with the EEOC, the Department of Labor is making a big regulatory push in Obama's last year as president. Next on the horizon is the ...

Blogs
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The top story on Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – is the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division's new interpretation of joint employment.

The federal Wage and Hour Division issued an Administrator’s Interpretation with new guidelines for joint employers under the FLSA and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. The Division makes it clear that it believes employers are regularly part of joint employment relationships with their vendors and business partners. If an employee files a claim or lawsuit and a ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

On August 7, 2015 the Second Circuit held that parties cannot enter into private settlements of Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA” or the “Act”) claims without  the approval of either the district court or the Department of Labor. Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House, Inc., No. 14-299 (2nd Cir. 2015).

Although other circuits are split on the issue of whether pre-suit agreements to settle FLSA claims are enforceable, this is the first appellate decision to address the issue of whether judicial approval is required to terminate an FLSA lawsuit once it has been filed. See Lynn's Food ...

Blogs
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The United States Supreme Court has upheld an Administrator’s Opinion issued by the United States Department of Labor stating that “typical” mortgage-loan officers are not covered by the Administrative exemption to the FLSA’s overtime requirements.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Perez v. Mortg. Bankers Ass'n reversed a Circuit Court decision vacating the Opinion for failure to comply with the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”).  Specifically, the Supreme Court ruled that the APA expressly exempts the Department of Labor ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

Just over three weeks after vacating a regulation barring third party employers from claiming the companionship exemption for minimum wage and overtime, in a January 14, 2015 decision in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon has also vacated the Department of Labor’s attempt to drastically narrow the definition of “companionship services” (29 CFR Sec. 552.6,). Judge Leon had previously stayed the changes in the new definition, originally scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2015.

The new definition of “companionship ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

On December 23, 2014, Brian Steinbach posted regarding U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s December 22nd decision in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, vacating the portion of the new Department of  Labor regulation (proposed 29 CFR Sec. 552.109, scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2015) barring third party employers from claiming the companionship services (minimum wage and overtime) or live-in domestic service (overtime) exemptions. The post noted that the decision did not address DOL’s separate changes to the definition of “companionship services” ...

Blogs
Clock 7 minute read

Several years ago, I received a kind note around the holidays from my opposing counsel in a wage-hour class action, thanking me and my firm for being their “partners” in addressing employment issues.

Maybe the word he used wasn’t “partners,” but it was something close to it.

At first, I must admit that I thought he was joking.

Then I realized that this attorney, for whom I have great respect, got it.

He got that employers are not looking to violate employment laws, and that the attorneys who represent them are not trying to help them violate the laws.

He got that the opposite is true ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

By Evan J. Spelfogel

On Feb. 12, 2014 President Obama signed Executive Order 13,658 to raise the minimum wage for workers on federal service and construction contracts from the current $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.  On June 12, 2014 the United States Department of Labor announced proposed implementation of the Executive Order with respect to all new and renegotiated federal contracts starting Jan. 1, 2015.

This increased minimum wage would apply to the approximately 200,000 employees working for government contractors and subcontractors, and is another salvo in the President’s push ...

Blogs
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Our colleagues Kara Maciel and Jordan Schwartz, both of Epstein Becker Green, recently cowrote an article for PLC titled "Tipped Employees Under the FLSA."

Following is an excerpt:

Wage and hour lawsuits certainly are not new phenomena, but in recent years, service industry employees have increasingly made claims regarding tips and service charges. In particular, employers in states such as Massachusetts, New York and California have seen a surge in class actions involving compulsory tip pools and distributions of service charges to employees. Commonly targeted employers ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

by Jeffrey H. Ruzal

On September 17, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a final rule extending the federal minimum wage and overtime pay protection under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”) to many direct care or domestic service workers, including home health aides, personal care aides and nursing assistants. The rule will take effect on January 1, 2015.

For almost 40 years, an exemption from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA has applied to domestic service workers employed to provide “companionship services” for an ...

Blogs
Clock 4 minute read

By: Kara Maciel and Jordan Schwartz

As discussed in prior blogs, due to confusion surrounding FLSA tip pool requirements, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) Wage and Hour Division enacted a strict rule in 2011 related to proper tip pooling and service charge practices. This rule was met with swift legal challenges, and earlier this week the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon concluded that the DOL had exceeded its authority when implementing its final rule. See Oregon Rest. and Lodging Assn. v. Solis, No. 3:12-cv-01261 (D. Or. June 7, 2013).

Inconsistent ...

Blogs
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By Elizabeth Bradley

This on-going series of blog posts flows from EBG’s publication of its Wage and Hour Division Investigation Checklist for employers. The Checklist, along with this series, is aimed at guiding employers through DOL Wage and Hour Division Investigations.

We have previously blogged our way through How to Prepare for a Wage and Hour Inspection, What to Do When a Wage and Hour Investigation Team Arrives to Start Auditing, and What Records Must be Provided to the DOL. In this post, we discuss what to expect during the “walk around” inspection portion of the ...

Blogs
Clock 5 minute read

By Michael D. Thompson

From restaurants in New York to childcare providers in Arkansas to the garment industry in Southern California, Department of Labor investigators continue to uncover FLSA violations by conducting unannounced workplace inspections.

Accordingly, in January, 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.

We previously blogged about how to prepare ...

Blogs
Clock 3 minute read

By Michael D. Thompson

The prohibition against private settlements of FLSA claims was scrutinized again last week, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York held that parties could voluntarily dismiss an FLSA lawsuit without obtaining approval of the settlement agreement from the court.  Picerni v. Bilingual SEIT & Preschool Inc. 

Courts in FLSA cases have historically expressed the concern that individual waivers of FLSA rights would enable employers to use their superior bargaining power to extract individual waivers from their employees and “thwart ...

Blogs
Clock 3 minute read

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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