Category Archives: Wage & Hour

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When is a “Bonus” Really a “Commission”? A Helpful Reminder to Ensure Your Pay Plans Comply with State Laws

Commission
In the past, we have highlighted some of the legal risks of employing commission-based employees, as well as some of the methods for limiting those risks.  A new court decision out of Illinois provides a good reminder that vaguely described policies and restrictive payment rules can expose employers to large liabilities.… Continue reading this entry

Do You Really Need to go to That Seminar?

Seminar
With only a few exceptions (e.g., harassment training in California), employment-related training is voluntary, not mandatory.  We all have so many demands on our time and not enough time in the day to meet them.  As an HR professional, sometimes the last thing you want to do is go to another seminar about harassment, or … Continue reading this entry

Pay Equity Law Update

Pay
New Connecticut Pay Equity Law On May 22, 2018, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed Public Act No. 18-8, “An Act Concerning Pay Equity,” into law. The new Connecticut law follows a recent trend by states to enact laws prohibiting employers from seeking salary history from prospective employees. Connecticut now joins California, Delaware, Massachusetts (see below), … Continue reading this entry

New California Laws – 2018

California
We are writing to bring you up to date regarding key California employment laws that take effect in the upcoming year. What follows is a description of newly approved California laws, effective January 1, 2018, at least some of which may impact your company directly if you have employees in the Golden State.… Continue reading this entry

DOL to Issue Opinion Letters

Secretary Acosta announced today, while testifying before a Senate appropriations committee, that the DOL will revive its former practice of issuing opinion letters. Under the Obama administration, the DOL stopped issuing opinion letters which were often used by employers to gain compliance assistance. The DOL received much criticized for that decision. Additionally, Secretary Acosta stated … Continue reading this entry

Senate Confirms Acosta as Next Secretary of Labor

On April 27, 2017, the U.S. Senate confirmed Alexander Acosta as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor by  vote of 60-38.  Acosta is a former U.S. Department of Justice and National Labor Relations Board member.  Secretary Acosta will now face the monumental task of coordinating Trump’s policy shifts within the department.  A key issue demanding his … Continue reading this entry

Top 5 Mistakes Employers Make with Their Employee Handbooks

As 2016 winds down and a new year approaches, now is a great time for employers to think about their employee handbooks and employment policies in general.  As employers go about that thought-process, here are a few common mistakes employers should try to avoid: (1) Self-Regulation:  Employers often include items in handbooks that are not … Continue reading this entry

Court Issues Injunction Against New Salary Thresholds

In a much anticipated decision, Judge Amos Mazzant, United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Texas, issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting the Department of Labor from implementing the regulations that were to take effect on December 1 for the new salary thresholds for exempt, so-called “white collar” employees.  Judge Mazzant found that … Continue reading this entry

Court Takes Injunction on Salary Threshold Levels Under Advisement

Today, Judge Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division heard arguments on an Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction regarding changes to the federal salaried exemption threshold, which, absent an injunction, become effective on December 1, 2016. During the hearing, which lasted over three hours, Judge Mazzant asked several questions that provide insight into … Continue reading this entry

Restaurant Employers Take Note—the Fifth Circuit Offers Instruction on Proper Deductions from Credit Card Tips

The Fifth Circuit recently decided how much a restaurant employer could deduct from an employee’s tips received by credit card to offset the costs associated with collecting and distributing the tips. In Steele v. Leasing Enterprises, Limited, the Fifth Circuit concluded the employer can only deduct the direct costs associated with paying out the tips. … Continue reading this entry

New Overtime Rules To Be Announced Wednesday

Several news sources are reporting that the Department of Labor will announce its much anticipated overtime rules on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.  The political pundits believe these final regulations will include a new salaried basis test of $47,500 ($913.46 per week).  This amount is more than double the current threshold of $23,660.  Currently, the speculation … Continue reading this entry

Joint Employment Concerns Grow for Franchisors

Recent guidance issued by the Department of Labor ensures that, like 2015, joint employment will remain a hot topic for franchisors in 2016. Last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) captured the full attention of the franchise industry by “restating” the standard for finding joint employment in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., 362 N.L.R.B. … Continue reading this entry

United States Department of Labor Intensifies Focus on Independent Contractor Classifications with New Administrator's Interpretation

Last month, the United States Department of Labor issued Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2015-1, regarding “The Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s ‘Suffer or Permit’ Standard in the Identification of Employees Who Are Misclassified as Independent Contractors.”  While the Interpretation does not represent a change in the law, it is certainly an indication that the … Continue reading this entry

Generic, All-Encompassing Employment Releases May Not Actually Release All Employment-Related Claims, Including FLSA Claims

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes federal courts sitting in Texas, recently held that a generic, broad state court settlement release did not bar two former employees’ subsequent unpaid overtime compensation claims against their former employer, even though the parties discussed the topic of unpaid wages during settlement negotiations and the release specifically … Continue reading this entry

DOL Issues Proposed Changes to Threshold of Salary Basis Test - $970/week from $455/week

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor issued proposed revisions to the minimum salary level that an employer must pay for an employee to be considered exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These long awaited revisions would, according to DOL estimates, increase overtime eligibility for approximately 4.6 million employees who are currently classified as exempt. Under … Continue reading this entry

Don’t be like Donald Sterling: Pay Your Interns

The Donald Sterling saga continues to teach employers—by way of bad example—important lessons for managing employees. While Sterling’s racist comments and desperate attempts to retain ownership of the L.A. Clippers continue to grab headlines, employers who hire unpaid interns may be facing a lawsuit similar to a less publicized lawsuit filed yesterday against the beleaguered … Continue reading this entry

Discounted Damages Through Fluctuating Work Week

Wage and hour litigation has been on a meteoric rise and is unlikely to slow in 2014. Nationally, employers paid over $245 million in 2013 to resolve wage and hour cases. In Texas, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases continue to be among the most commonly filed in federal courts. Many of these cases allege … Continue reading this entry

UPDATE: Changes to FLSA Exemptions

As announced by the White House this week, President Obama directed the Department of Labor to update the regulations on the white-collar exemptions.  Specifically, the President instructed the Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to update the regulations.  The President’s point was that the minimum salary requirements had only been raised once since 1975, and that … Continue reading this entry

Obama Proposes Sweeping Changes to FLSA Exemptions

A few weeks ago, President Obama issued an Executive Order raising the minimum wage for workers on new federal contractors from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. That measure was designed to build momentum for a minimum wage increase for the private sector as well. Now, President Obama has announced he will direct the … Continue reading this entry

Automatic Tipping: Impact of IRS Rules Change on the Hospitality Industry

By Jessica Glatzer Mason and Tax Partner Michael J. Donohue In 2014, restaurants and other employers in the hospitality industry will be subject to new IRS reporting and withholding rules relating to automatic tips charged to large groups of patrons. Background. Employees are required to report cash “tips” of $20 or more to their employer … Continue reading this entry

5th Circuit Rejects NLRB's Position on Class/Collective Action Waivers

On December 3, 2013, in a landmark decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (“Fifth Circuit”) in D.R. Horton, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, rejected the argument that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) banned class and collective action waivers in employment arbitration agreements.  This decision overturned the National Labor Relations … Continue reading this entry

Avoid Investigations Through Labor Law Compliance

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division has set its aim – with ample ammunition – on the restaurant industry. Focusing on overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping violations, the enforcement initiative has recovered millions of dollars in back wages and penalties from restaurants throughout the country. In a stated effort to protect the … Continue reading this entry

Genesis Health Care Corp. v. Symczyk--A Magic Bullet for FLSA Class Actions?

On April 16, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a defendant employer’s settlement offer to a plaintiff mooted the plaintiff’s claim and prevented her from leading a collective action for unpaid wages.  The controversial ruling by a sharply divided Court suggests employers may be able to avoid collective actions under the … Continue reading this entry