Oregon Court of Appeals Requires Employers to Pay Wages for Hourly Employees’ Failure to Take Full 30-Minute Meal Periods

On November 14, 2019, the Oregon Court of Appeals in Maza v. Waterford Operations, LLC, 300 Or. App. 471 (2019), addressed the question of whether an employer can be found strictly liable under Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 839-020-0050(2) when an hourly employee takes less than the entire duty-free, 30-minute lunch break to which the employee is otherwise entitled, regardless of the circumstances.

DOL Issues Fluctuating Workweek Proposal Permitting Employers to Include Bonus Pay When Calculating Overtime

On November 4, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would give employers more flexibility in the way they calculate overtime pay for workers with inconsistent schedules that result in workweeks with varying hours of work.

Washington Supreme Court Approves Trucking Industry Piece-Rate Compensation Practices

Last year, the Washington Supreme Court considered the following certified question: “Does the Washington Minimum Wage Act require non-agricultural employers to pay their piece-rate employees per hour for time spent performing activities outside of piece-rate work?” On September 5, 2019, the court answered with a resounding no.

The Year 2020 Will Begin With an Increase to Florida’s Minimum Wage

The Florida Minimum Wage Act, which applies to all employees in Florida covered by the federal minimum wage, requires the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity to calculate a new minimum wage rate each year on September 30. The wage rate is based on the percentage increase in the federal Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the South Region for the 12-month period prior to September 1. Florida’s minimum wage is currently $8.46 per hour. According to state government officials, beginning January 1, 2020, Florida’s minimum wage is scheduled to rise to $8.56 per hour, which is a $0.10, or 1.12 percent increase, due to the change in the CPI.

California Court of Appeal Clarifies Meal and Rest Period Premium Calculation and the Enforceability of Rounding Policies

California employers have long grappled with two wage and hour questions:

  1. What rate of pay should be used to calculate meal and rest period premiums in California?
  2. Does the facially neutral “rounding” of employee work time, which results in a small subset of employees being undercompensated, result in systematic undercompensation on a class-wide basis?

Arizona Municipalities Retain Authority to Enact Benefits Ordinances After State High Court Denies Review

In February 2019, the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One ruled that the Arizona State Legislature overstepped its authority in 2016, when it prohibited Arizona cities and other municipalities from enacting their own employee benefits ordinances. On August 27, 2019, the Arizona Supreme Court denied review of the Court of Appeals decision.

Time’s Up—and So Is the Current Minimum Wage in Connecticut

Attention, Connecticut employers. October 1, 2019, marks the implementation of two new Connecticut laws. First, Connecticut will begin gradually increasing its minimum wage on October 1, 2019, raising the minimum wage to $11.00 an hour. Second, Connecticut’s Time’s Up Act, which extends sexual harassment training requirements to all employers in the state, also goes into effect. Now is the time to make sure that your policies and procedures are in compliance.

Michigan Legislature Considers Package of Bills Addressing Wage Theft, Independent Contractors, and Noncompetes

On August 29, 2019, legislators from the Michigan House of Representatives announced an ambitious package of 12 bills aimed at creating new criminal and civil penalties to combat employers that fail to properly pay wages and overtime pay. The legislation would also establish enhanced protections and penalties under Michigan’s whistleblower statute and create new civil remedies against employers for overzealous enforcement of noncompete agreements and for misclassifying employees as independent contractors.

Minnesota DLI Issues Updated FAQ on Wage Theft, Other Employer Expectations

In late July 2019, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) released an update to its FAQ on Minnesota’s new wage theft law, including 37 new questions and answers to further clarify what is expected of employers under the statute. The new FAQ provides important guidance on several key points, while at the same time leaving other important questions unanswered. The following is a summary of several of the most commonly asked questions and  DLI’s answers.

What the DOL Guidance on Nondiscretionary Bonuses Means for Nonexempt Employees

A common challenge for employers of hourly or nonexempt employees who receive quarterly or annual nondiscretionary bonuses is how to factor such bonuses into the employees’ regular rates of pay and calculate the appropriate overtime premiums due to those employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek. In July 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued Opinion Letter FLSA2019-7, which discusses how employers may account for overtime pay as part of annual and quarterly nondiscretionary bonuses.

DOL’s WHD Regulatory Reforms in the Home Stretch

If you are a sports fan, then you might consider the regulatory agenda of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in general, and the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in particular, as winding down to the end of the third quarter of a football game or moving into the latter innings of a baseball game. In both sports, time and opportunity become critical for the team that wants to win but is not ahead. Regardless of your preferred game, as the November 3, 2020, elections draw closer (less than 440 days away), the WHD has been very busy in the regulatory realm under Wage and Hour Administrator Cheryl Stanton and Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella.

Employers Beware: New Jersey Enacts One of the Toughest “Wage Theft” Laws in the Country

On August 6, 2019, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed the New Jersey Wage Theft Act (WTA) into law. The law has been touted by proponents as the toughest wage theft statute in the country. Notwithstanding its name, the WTA goes far beyond attempting to prevent and punish intentional “wage theft” by significantly expanding the liability even the best-intentioned employers will face for state wage law violations.

Minneapolis Wage Theft Ordinance to Go Into Effect on January 1, 2020

Joining a chorus of cities and states addressing concerns involving employers’ failure to properly calculate employees’ pay, or to pay them at all, allowing employees to work “off the clock,” or take unauthorized or illegal deductions, on August 8, 2019, the City of Minneapolis enacted an ordinance prohibiting “wage theft,” which will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

Chicago City Council Passes Sweeping Scheduling Ordinance

On July 24, 2019, the Chicago City Council passed the most sweeping predictive scheduling ordinance in the country to date. Effective July 1, 2020 (January 1, 2021, for “safety-net” hospitals), the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance will require 10 days’ advance notice of work schedules for certain workers in the building services, healthcare, hotel, manufacturing, restaurant, retail, and warehouse services industries.

California Court Delivers Trucking Company a Meal/Rest Break Win and Limits the Application of the ABC Test

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California recently ruled in an employment class action regarding misclassification of trucking industry owner-operators as independent contractors. The ruling is a win for numerous industries.

Eighth Circuit Holds Independent Agreements for Attorneys’ Fees in FLSA Settlements Are Not Subject to Judicial Review

Last month, in Barbee v. Big River Steel, LLC, No. 18-2255 (June 20, 2019), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that an independent agreement for attorneys’ fees in connection with a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) settlement does not require court approval—without intimating any position on the current circuit split as to whether FLSA settlements in general require judicial approval.

Is Next-Day Pay the Next Big Thing?

Among the hardest-to-find workers in America today are restaurant and retail workers. The current labor market is the tightest in 49 years, and for the past year, there have been roughly a million more open positions in the United States than people looking for work. The hospitality sector always has faced recruitment challenges, but the recently shrinking applicant pool has forced employers to look for creative ways to lure workers to jobs in the food service and retail industries.

California Dreaming: Minnesota Legislature Enacts Sweeping Wage Theft Law

The Minnesota Legislature wrapped up its 2019 legislative session with a one-day special session last month that resulted in the passage of an omnibus appropriations bill, the Jobs and Economic Development Omnibus. The legislation includes new and surprising notice and recordkeeping mandates for Minnesota employers and creates new civil and criminal penalties for “wage theft.” In addition, it grants more authority to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) to enforce compliance with the new statute.

Offshore Oil Rig Workers’ Overtime Claims Governed by FLSA, Not California Law

On June 10, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that state wage and hour laws do not apply to offshore drilling workers where federal law addresses the relevant issue. In Parker Drilling Management Services v. Newton, No. 18-389, the Supreme Court answered the question of whether California’s laws governing the minimum wage and payment for “standby time” applied to workers on oil rigs in federal waters off the coast of California.