Medical care providers have been experiencing an uptick in Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits based on automatically deducted meal periods. Recently, a nurse filed a collective action lawsuit against St. Luke’s Health System Corporation and various affiliates, claiming that they failed to pay nurses for work performed during meal breaks. Specifically, the nurse alleges that St. Luke’s automatically deducts 30 minutes from each shift for meal periods, assuming that its nurses are able to find a 30-minute block of time to eat. The nurse further claims that, in reality, nurses remain on duty when attempting to eat, and that their meal periods are frequently interrupted. Given the potential for large liability and the likelihood of copycat lawsuits, employers—particularly medical care providers—should examine their meal period policies to ensure the policies are compliant with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Continue Reading Food for Thought—Does Your Automatic Meal Period Policy Violate the Law?
After a Texas federal judge struck down the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule, as discussed here, the DOL dropped its appeal of the preliminary injunction the same judge granted in November 2016. As we previously noted, the Fifth Circuit appeal of the injunction, which blocked the Obama-era overtime rule from going into effect, became moot following the district court’s judgment on August 31, 2017.
Notably, however, the Department of Justice (on behalf of the DOL) can still appeal the court’s final judgment entered last week. It is unclear whether the DOL will appeal the ruling to challenge whether the agency has the authority to set any salary test for the exemption analysis. Or whether the DOL will instead propose its own version of a new overtime rule (or keep the current version intact). Employers should therefore keep an eye on any developments. Of course, we will continue to monitor and provide updates of any changes to overtime requirements.
Starting last summer, employers began preparing to comply with the Obama administration’s revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations for the executive, administrative, and professional overtime exemptions (“white collar” exemptions). If implemented, the revised overtime rule would dramatically expand the number of workers eligible for overtime pay and would impact most U.S. employers. Because of legal challenges to the new rule, however, its validity has been up in the air for nearly a year. And the change from the Obama to Trump administration only created more uncertainty for employers. Right before the Labor Day weekend, a federal court in Texas issued an order invalidating the new overtime rule. Although we expect challenges to the court’s ruling, and the Trump DOL may propose its own revisions, the court’s order provides employers grappling with the proposed changes to the overtime exemptions with some clarity.
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As Hurricane Harvey strengthens and threatens Texas and the Gulf Coast, it’s a good time for Texas employers to consider potential pay-related issues that can arise from inclement weather. Be it rising floodwaters or hurricanes in the Gulf (and the endless news coverage of the same), here are 5 tips to help your business when employees are absent due to inclement weather. Continue Reading Employee Pay During Inclement Weather: Five Tips to Stay Afloat
U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced in a June 7, 2017 press release that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has withdrawn two of its recent administrator’s interpretations. One of the administrator’s interpretations, issued in 2015, focused on the misclassification of employees as independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and indicated that the DOL would be more closely scrutinizing independent contractor classifications. The other administrator’s interpretation, issued in 2016, examined joint employment relationships under the FLSA. Both interpretations were widely considered to be an attempt by the DOL to expand the coverage and enforcement of the FLSA. The withdrawal of the guidance documents likely indicates a shift in enforcement focus of the DOL under the Trump administration.
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While no one knows exactly how Donald Trump’s election as President will impact labor and employment laws in the country, it is a safe bet that there will be changes. Because Trump was virtually silent on the campaign trail regarding the specifics of any employment law policies, we are left to speculate on any upcoming changes. We provide a brief overview of our best educated guesses on what changes could be in store given the election results. Given Trump’s position on government enforcement and his pro-business stance, there is an expectation of changes to several employment-related laws. Continue Reading What Trump’s Election Means for Employment Laws
As we’ve blogged about before (see here), the Department of Labor published a Final Rule with an effective date of December 1, 2016, which nearly doubled the minimum salary an employee must earn to qualify for a “white collar exemption.” However, on November 22, 2016, a Texas federal court blocked the enactment of the amendments to the federal “white collar” exemptions for executive, administrative, and professional employees that were set to go into effect this week. Notably, the court did not halt the proposed amendments for the highly compensated employee exemption.
You can read the entire Client Alert, which includes details about the court order and actions for employers, here.
Internal pay audits are rarely enjoyable. Depending on the scope, these audits can be complex and require detailed analysis. However, in the current legal climate, an internal audit can be extremely valuable and greatly reduce, or even eliminate, potential liability for wage and hour claims as well as pay equity claims. As previously reported on this blog, increased scrutiny into pay equity discrimination, changes in EEO-1 reporting requirements, the Department of Labor’s joint employment efforts, and the updated FLSA exemption rules continue to place companies at greater risk of government audits, fines, and lawsuits.
Many employers may have already reviewed and updated their policies in anticipation of the changes to the “white collar” FLSA exemptions, which go into effect on December 1, 2016. But if your company has not yet done so, or to the extent you have not conducted a more comprehensive internal audit, your company should strongly consider doing so as soon as possible for several reasons. Continue Reading Don’t Wait! Now Is the Time to Conduct an Internal Wage & Hour Audit
As discussed in a prior post, the Department of Labor’s new overtime regulations increase the weekly minimum salary threshold an employee must be paid to maintain exempt status under the FLSA’s “white collar” exemptions. The Final Rule, which becomes effective December 1, 2016, could affect up to 4.2 million employees according to DOL estimates. But an employer hoping to classify its employees as exempt need not meet the new threshold entirely through base salary. Instead, the new regulations allow employers to use bonuses, commissions, and incentive payments to satisfy up to 10% of the minimum salary threshold.
On August 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor and Doctors Associates Inc. (Subway Restaurants) announced a voluntary agreement formalizing their ongoing collaboration. This agreement is a first of its kind and seeks to ensure that franchise owners have the tools necessary to comply with wage and hour laws. Since 2012, Subway has made available a platform for the DOL to provide training and resources to franchisees. Despite the DOL’s efforts, other companies have reportedly been reluctant to enter into similar agreements due to fears that other government agencies will use such an agreement as evidence of a joint employer relationship. Interestingly, Subway has been collaborating with the DOL for over three years and although this collaboration has been very much in the public eye, no agency has indicated that such a relationship would make them a joint employer. The DOL hopes the fact that Subway, the world’s largest franchisor, entered into the compliance agreement will encourage other companies to follow suit. Given the various government agencies’ joint employer efforts, all companies, whether franchisors or not, should analyze their own specific circumstances before entering into a similar agreement. Continue Reading Does Subway’s Compliance Agreement with the DOL Really Raise Joint Employer Concerns?