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Showing 28 posts in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

DOL Quietly Moves to ‘All Liquidated Damages, All the Time’ Footing

Posted In Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) has always provided for liquidated damages for violations, but in the past, the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) generally pursued the liquidated damages only when forced to litigate. Liquidated damages are effectively punitive in nature and amount to the full amount of back wages, doubling the hit to employers who find themselves in such a predicament. In recent years, however, the WHD has steadily increased the frequency with which it assesses these damages, which proves to be double the burden on employers. More >

New Overtime Rules May Be Here Sooner than Expected

Posted In Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Overtime Pay

The timeline for adoption of the Final Rule of proposed changes to the white collar overtime exemption has been hard to pin down. In early November of 2015, Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith, during a panel discussion at the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Conference in Philadelphia, mentioned that the proposed changes would not be issued until late 2016, leading many to believe that they would not take effect until 2017. Later that month, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) Wage and Hour Division estimated that the rule would be published in July 2016, not quite as late as earlier implied. Then, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez stated in December in an interview with Bloomberg BNA that it seemed likely to him that the new rule would be out by spring of 2016. In February of 2016, Smith reiterated the Wage and Hour Division’s projected timeline of a July 2016 publication with an effective date 60 days later. On March 14th, 2016, the Department of Labor made the surprising move of sending its overtime rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), which means that all bets are off and the rule may here sooner than predicted. More >

Employers, Don’t Sleep on Your Rights

Posted In Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

There are ways of gaining a tactical advantage in Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) litigation, but sleeping on one’s rights in such a circumstance is not one of them. NPC International, Inc., a Pizza Hut franchisee, learned this the hard way in the Sixth Circuit in August. If the case of Skylar Gunn v. NPC International proves anything, it proves that courts will frown upon employers gaming the legal system to the detriment of employees bringing claims. More >

Surprise! That Independent Contractor is an Employee!

Posted In Department of Labor ("DOL"), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Independent Contractors

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has given employers some bitter pills to swallow lately, especially in light of the proposed rule concerning new restrictions on the white collar overtime exemption. With a new set of guidance on the classification of independent contractors, the streak of DOL heartburn for employers continues unabated. More >

ALERT - Department of Labor Set to Change Overtime Exemption Regulations under the FLSA

Posted In Department of Labor ("DOL"), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Overtime Pay

On July 6th, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with the potential to affect an untold number of employers. The proposed rule, published in the Federal Register at 80 FR 38515, drastically changes the DOL’s interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act with respect to overtime exemptions. The current rule, put in place in 2004, exempts employees with salaries of at least $455 a week ($23,660 a year) and who perform executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer duties from overtime regulations. More >

Complaining to the Boss? The Second Circuit Says That's Protected

Posted In EEOC, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation that oral complaints are protected by anti-relation provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), but it did not address a vital question: must those complaints be “filed” with a government agency to receive protection against retaliation, or will simple oral complaints to an employer trigger such provisions?[1] The Second Circuit recently moved to fill that gap, ruling in Greathouse v. JHS Security, Inc. that merely “filing” an oral complaint with an employer is enough to trigger anti-retaliation provisions of the FLSA[2]. More >

The Big and Small Implications in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association

Posted In Department of Labor ("DOL"), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), U.S. Department of Labor

There are two important takeaways from Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association,[1] one with a broad scope and the other much narrower. The broader ruling exempts agency interpretations of laws and regulations from any notice and comment requirements under the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”), allowing agencies to substantially alter interpretations without notice. On a different note, however, is the finding that Department of Labor (“DoL”) Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) classification interpretations are subject to change at any moment. More >

When is a Lunch Break Not a Lunch Break? The Sixth Circuit and Ruffin v. MotorCity Casino

Posted In Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Hopefully you aren’t reading this on your lunch break, hoping that you can then count the time spent as compensable work time, especially if you’re in the Sixth Circuit. In the case of Ruffin v. MotorCity Casino, the Sixth Circuit held that casino security guards tasked with monitoring their radios over their lunch break were not engaged in compensable work for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act. This may be less than good news for employees, but it might provide some leeway in the future as to what employers may permissibly ask employees for on their lunch breaks. More >

What Employers Can (Probably) Expect from the FLSA Overtime Exemption (Yet to Be) Proposed Rules

Posted In Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Overtime Pay

With apologies to Tom Petty, with regard to upcoming proposed regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act set to increase the overtime exemption salary, the waiting is the hardest part. Employers everywhere will likely experience some budgetary change to comply, but it’s hard to know exactly what that change will be. At the same time, knowing what may be coming down the pike can only prepare employers more for how to handle the final regulations when they come into effect. More >

NLRB Continues to Expand its Reach

In two recent actions, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) continued its activist role in supporting labor unions’ organizing efforts. In one case, the NLRB expanded “micro-units” to the retail industry. In another instance, the NLRB entered into a reciprocal arrangement with the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) to assist in enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

In Macy’s, Inc. v. Local 1445, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, decided on July 22, 2014, the NLRB permitted the cosmetic and fragrance workers employed in a single Macy’s store in Massachusetts to organize. This marked the first time that the NLRB had approved a so-called “micro-unit” in the retail industry. The Board rejected Macy’s argument that permitting the UFCWU to organize cosmetic and fragrance workers in one store would “allow a proliferation of micro-units based solely on the products sold by employees,” resulting in “chaos and disruption of business.”

The Macy’s decision extended the principle, enunciated in Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, 357 NLRB No. 83 (2011), that it was “appropriate” under Section 9 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 159(b), for a labor union to organize and represent a small group of employees at a single worksite. That case involved certified nursing assistants in an extended care facility. The federal appellate court that includes Kentucky upheld the Board’s decision in the healthcare industry in Kindred Nursing Centers East, LLC. V. NLRB (6th Cir. 2013).

Before Specialty Healthcare, labor unions had traditionally attempted to organize the largest number of employees per unit. Now their strategy is to target smaller units to counter broader employer organizing avoidance efforts. Smaller units will be easier to organize, and union elections could be held quickly, giving employers little time to react. Furthermore, multiple labor organizations could seek to organize several different groups of employees in a single facility.

The Board has also become involved in enforcement actions beyond the NLRA. In a recent memorandum, the NLRB’s General Counsel advised regional directors that when investigating unfair labor practices (“ULP”) charges, investigators should encourage each charging party to file a claim if the person “divulges facts that suggest that an employer may have committed a possible [OSHA or FLSA] violation.”  Before this action, the Board had already enlisted the assistance of DOL employees investigating OSHA whistleblower complaints to encourage claimants to file ULP charges to take advantage of the NLRA’s longer statute of limitations.

For the next two years at least, the NLRB will likely continue to develop new ways to expand its reach into the employer-employee relationship. Employers should perform frequent workplace audits to ensure that they are in the best position to minimize problems in labor-management relations. For more information, contact your MMLK employment law attorney.

 Kembra Sexton Taylor

Kembra Sexton Taylor, a partner located in the firm’s Frankfort office, practices in the areas of labor and employment, personnel, administrative, regulatory, appellate, and insurance defense law. She has extensive experience in representing clients regarding wage and hour, OSHA, state personnel, and other regulatory matters. She can be reached at taylor@mmlklaw.com or (502) 223-1200.

This article is intended as a summary of federal and state law and does not constitute legal advice.

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