On February 12, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an opinion with significant implications for Massachusetts employers with commissioned employees.
In 2015, the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, approved an ordinance prohibiting wage theft in the city. The Wage Theft Ordinance (WTO) “aims to eliminate the underpayment or nonpayment of wages” by giving private employees within the city’s limits an administrative process for seeking back wages, liquidated damages, and costs and attorney’s fees. Pinellas County maintains a similar, though not identical, wage theft ordinance.
In a 29-page decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Fisher v. SD Protection Inc., No. 18-2504, that a district court had abused its discretion by rewriting a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) settlement agreement to modify the allotment of the settlement funds to dramatically reduce the fees and costs provided to plaintiff’s counsel. In its holding, issued on February 4, 2020, the court determined that the district court had committed three errors requiring that its decision be vacated and remanded for further consideration.
It was a busy January 2020 in Trenton, with the state enacting several new employment laws, with more apparently on the way. This is in addition to the slew of new laws adopted in 2019 impacting New Jersey employers. Here’s a summary of recent employment law developments in New Jersey just one month into 2020, a look at what may be on the way, and a recap of 2019’s changes.
The Supreme Court of California recently agreed to review the California Court of Appeal’s decision in Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC, 40 Cal. App. 5th 1239 (2019), as limited to the following question: Did the Legislature intend the term “regular rate of compensation” in Labor Code section 226.7, which requires employers to pay a wage premium if they fail to provide a legally compliant meal period or rest break, to have the same meaning and require the same calculations as the term “regular rate of pay” under Labor Code section 510(a), which requires employers to pay a wage premium for each overtime hour?
On January 31, 2020, the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s (DLI) amendments to 34 Pa. Code Chapter 231, the regulations that exempt executive, administrative, and professional (“white collar”) salaried workers from overtime requirements under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968.
In late 2019, Pennsylvania defected from the traditional use of the fluctuating workweek method used to calculate overtime rates for employees working fluctuating hours.
New legislation recently introduced in the Washington State Legislature seeks to implement a 32-hour workweek for nonexempt Washington-based workers.
The New Jersey legislature closed out 2019 by trying to push through a bill that would have substantially amended the state’s “ABC test” for determining independent contractor status, and effectively prohibited New Jersey companies from utilizing independent contractor workforces. On January 14, 2020, the state senate introduced S863, which presents many of the same problems for New Jersey businesses that its predecessors did.
In a favorable opinion for employers, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District concluded the following on December 4, 2019, in David Cacho v. Eurostar, Inc.
Florida’s 2020 legislative session convened today in Tallahassee. This session will be one to watch, as over 20 workplace-related bills have already been filed, covering such topics as discrimination and retaliation, minimum wage and overtime pay, pre-employment verification and background screening, reemployment assistance, tax credits and refunds, job relocation, job protections for medical marijuana users, paid family leave, and heat illness prevention.
On January 12, 2020, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released the final changes to its joint-employer regulation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Originally proposed in April 2019, the updated regulation provides a clear, bright-line standard that is intended to clarify the circumstances in which a business entity may be determined to be a joint employer of another entity’s employees.
On January 7, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued three opinion letters, two of which concerned the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). (The other dealt with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.) These opinion letters are the first of the new year and a new decade.
On December 31, 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he had directed the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) to eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers of all employers covered by the Minimum Wage Order for Miscellaneous Industries and Occupations. The governor’s announcement came on the heels of a recently released NYSDOL report that found that wage underpayment in the tip system disproportionately affected women, minorities, and immigrants. Employers that fall under this wage order include nail salons, hair salons, car washes, parking garages, tow truck companies, pet groomers, and tour guide agencies. The order impacts over 70,000 employees in New York.
On December 13, 2019, a split Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (sitting en banc) ruled that several black plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the discriminatory intent behind an Alabama law that blocked the city of Birmingham from increasing its local minimum wage.
In a development sure to be welcomed by employers, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued revised regulations allowing employers to more easily offer perks and benefits to their employees without affecting the employees’ overtime rates. The revised regulations were published on December 16, 2019, in the Federal Register and will be effective on January 15, 2020.
In 2020, a number of states’ minimum wage rates will increase. The following chart lists the states’ (and certain major localities’) minimum wage increases for 2020—and future years if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees. The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per
As Arizona employers prepare for 2020, key minimum wages and exempt salary levels under city, state, and federal law will go into effect. Additionally, employers will want to remain aware of potential legislation and/or voter propositions on recreational marijuana and raises in the healthcare industry in Arizona.
On December 6, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Yu v. Hasaki Restaurant, Inc., No. 17-3388, that judicial approval is not required to settle Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims via a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68(a) offer of judgment.
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.
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.
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 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 employers have long grappled with two wage and hour questions:
- What rate of pay should be used to calculate meal and rest period premiums in California?
- 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?
On April 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2018-3 in an effort to clarify the tip pooling amendments in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Over the past year, the popularity of digital workplace apps (that is, mobile applications used by companies to facilitate interactions with, and between, employees) has grown exponentially.
The new overtime rule, which the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced on September 24, 2019, was published in the Federal Register on Friday, September 27, 2019.