New Year, New Legislative Session Greets Florida Employers

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.

Department of Labor Issues Final Joint-Employer Regulation

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.

New Year Brings New Opinion Letters From DOL’s Wage and Hour Division

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.

New York State to End Subminimum Wage for Miscellaneous Industries

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.

Revised Federal Rules Exclude Modern Perks and Benefits From the Regular Rate of Pay for Overtime Purposes

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.

New Year, New Minimum Rates: State-by-State Minimum Wage Updates for 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

Second Circuit Stamps Out Approval Requirement for FLSA Claims Settled Via Rule 68 Offers of Judgment

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.

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.