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.

New York’s Highest Court Upholds 13-Hour Rule for Payment of Live-in Home Health Aides

In two recent companion cases, Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc. and Moreno v. Future Care Health Services, Inc., the New York Court of Appeals upheld the New York State Department of Labor’s (NYSDOL) 13-hour rule for the payment of home health aides working 24-hour shifts. Under this rule, an employer may pay home health aides for only 13 hours of a 24-hour shift if the aides receive at least 3 hours of meal break time and at least 8 hours of sleep (at least 5 of which must be uninterrupted).

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Finds That Commissioned Salespeople Must Be Paid Overtime

On May 8, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a unanimous opinion holding that salespeople who are paid solely on draws and commissions are entitled to separate and additional overtime and Sunday pay under Massachusetts law. The decision has far-reaching implications for most retailers, which have long relied on opinion letters from the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) suggesting that commissioned employees are not entitled to such additional compensation.

Washington State Legislature Adopts Law Restricting Noncompetition Agreements

After several years of failed attempts, the state of Washington passed a law on April 17, 2019 that will significantly limit the enforceability of noncompetition agreements under Washington law. Governor Jay Inslee has not yet signed the act into law, but it is expected that Governor Inslee will promptly do so.

No Fooling: DOL Announces Joint-Employer Proposal

On April 1, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend its existing regulations regarding joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This is no April Fools’ Day joke, as a joint employer is jointly and severally liable with the employer for all wages due to the employee under the FLSA.

FAQs About the DOL’s Proposed Regular Rate Requirements

On March 28, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule that would update and clarify regular rate requirements. Specifically, the proposed rule lists perks and benefits, such as unused paid leave and reimbursed expenses that employers can exclude when calculating an employee’s regular rate of pay. This article provides concise answers to employers’ frequently asked questions about the proposed rule.

Minnesota Legislative Update, Part II: Bills to Watch

In part one of this series, we reported on several legislative developments in Minnesota that could impact employers. Now the Minnesota Legislature has proposed more bills affecting the workplace. These bills could alter the standard for sexual harassment, preempt local wage and sick leave laws, prohibit discrimination against unemployed job applicants, change the definition of “wage theft,” and further gender equality legislation.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Holds Carrying “Necessary and Indispensable” Tools in a Company Van Does Not Make a Commute Compensable

Last year, a Wisconsin court of appeals held that it was unsettled under Wisconsin law whether employers may be required to pay employees for time spent driving between home and work in company vans if the vans are also transporting work tools and equipment.

Fifth Circuit Holds Directional Drillers Are Independent Contractors

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently held that a group of directional driller consultants were independent contractors, not employees, in large part due to their highly specialized skills, degree of control over their own projects, and ability to control their profits and analyzed losses.

Part 541 Overtime Rule, Round 2: How the New NPRM Differs From the 2016 Proposal

On March 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced the release of its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to revise the regulations defining who is an executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employee exempt from the overtime and minimum wage protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Failure to Provide Employee With Adequate Pumping Breaks and Accommodations Led to $1.5 Million Verdict

In March 2010, as part of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was amended to require most employers to provide nonexempt employees “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk”; and “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”