As COVID-19 continues to remain a critical issue across the country, an increasing number of employers that are allowed to remain open despite shelter-in-place orders may be experiencing staffing shortages. This is because employees may be increasingly absent due to mandatory or voluntary quarantines. To maintain operations, many of these employers are turning to areas of their businesses or enterprises that may have a staffing surplus, and temporarily reassigning those employees to the more essential roles vacated by employees who are absent as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
In Viet v. Copier Victor, Inc., No. 18-6191 (March 10, 2020), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Copier Victor and its founder, Victor Le, on an employee’s overtime claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), finding the employee’s testimony regarding the number of hours he worked on a weekly basis too vague and conclusory to withstand summary judgment.
On March 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division released an updated set of “Questions and Answers” (Q&As) that provide additional guidance concerning the impact of workplace closures and furloughs upon employers’ obligations to provide paid leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA).
On March 28, 2020, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division released an updated set of questions and answers (Q&As) that provide additional guidance concerning teleworking arrangements (Q&As 17–20) and intermittent leave (Q&As 21 and 22) under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), both of which are included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
On March 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division released an updated set of “Questions and Answers” (Q&As) that provide additional guidance concerning health care providers and emergency responders (question numbers 55, 56, and 57). The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EMFLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) authorize the DOL to issue regulations to exempt health care providers and emergency responders from eligibility for coverage under the FFCRA.
On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) announced the issuance of additional guidance related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The guidance includes “Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-1: Temporary Non-Enforcement Period Applicable to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act” and model notices “for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under this new law.”
On March 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division issued preliminary guidance for employers and employees concerning the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). Both laws are part of larger Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) enacted on March 18, 2020.
California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York have all issued statewide shelter-in-place orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and more states may follow. Employers that do not qualify for an exemption under the applicable state order or that decide to severely curtail or shut down operations may want to consider some of the following issues.
In a 5-page summary order issued on March 5, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Belizaire v. Ahold U.S.A., Inc., No. 19-457-cv, that the “delivery fee” paid by customers of Peapod LLC, a grocery delivery service, was not a charge purported to be a gratuity for an employee within the meaning of the New York Tip Law, codified as New York Labor Law (NYLL) § 196-d. The court reached its decision by applying the standards enunciated in the seminal Court of Appeals of the State of New York case, Samiento v. World Yacht Inc.
On March 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division posted a helpful guidance for employers addressing some of the issues they are likely contemplating with respect to employee wages in different COVID-19 scenarios. “COVID-19 or Other Public Health Emergencies and the Fair Labor Standards Act Questions and Answers” offers answers to a number of questions related to emergencies generally under the federal wage and hour laws. Here is what you need to know.
In 2020, as part of its annual wage order rulemaking, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Labor Standards and Statistics adopted Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards (COMPS) Order #36, a measure that will bring sweeping change to the state’s rules governing overtime, minimum wage, and working conditions standards.
Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can put a business at risk of tax assessments, penalties, and wage and hour claims. Understanding the difference between an employee and independent contractor is vital for any business to flourish in today’s ever-changing economy especially given the growth of the gig economy.
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.