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New FLSA Opinion Letters Address Rounding, Bonuses and Paralegals

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has issued three new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) opinion letters, which address:

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.

Supreme Court: State Wage-and-Hour Laws Inapplicable to Drilling Platform Workers

Workers on oil drilling platforms off the coast of California are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), not California’s overtime and wage laws, the U.S. Supreme Court has held unanimously. Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd. v. Newton, No. 18-389 (June 10, 2019). Accordingly, the Court ruled that workers are not entitled to be paid for the nonworking time they spend on the platform, including for sleeping.

Supreme Court Refuses To Extend State Wage-Hour Law To Offshore Drilling

By a unanimous 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today declined to extend California’s wage-and-hour laws to employees working on offshore drilling platforms subject to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (Parker Drilling Management Services Ltd. v. Newton). Although this decision represents a victory for the employer involved in the dispute, you should check with your legal counsel to ensure you are in compliance with the correct legal standard given the nuanced nature of this ruling.

Timber Harvesting Company Cannot Escape Overtime Liability, But Commute and Meal Break Time Should Not Have Been Included, Sixth Circuit Holds

Rejecting employer Timberline South’s argument, among others, that FLSA coverage did not apply because all of its timber harvesting occurred only within one state, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals nevertheless concluded that the commuting and meal break times should not have been included in the trial court’s calculation of overtime damages. Secretary of Labor v. Timberline South, LLC, 920 F.3d 1065 (6th Cir. 2019). The Sixth Circuit includes the federal courts in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

IRS Issues Draft of Proposed 2020 Form W-4

The IRS has published a draft of the 2020 Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, which incorporates the changes made by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The purpose of the proposed new design is to reduce the form's complexity and increase withholding accuracy and transparency, according to the agency.

WPI Wage Watch: Minimum Wage, Tip, and Overtime Developments (May Edition)

This month, we provide a rates-only update detailing state- and local-level minimum wage (and exempt employee pay) increases scheduled to occur on July 1, 2019, plus other developments concerning the minimum wage, tips, and overtime that occurred in May.

IRS Releases Proposed Form W-4 Redesign

On Friday, May 31, 2019, the IRS released a new proposed design of the IRS Form W-4 to be used starting in 2020. The goal is to make it easier for employees to calculate accurate withholdings under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Employees who already have completed a Form W-4 will not be required to submit a new Form W-4 simply due to the redesign. However, once finalized, the new Form will be required for employees hired on or after January 1, 2020. More information is available here.

Manager Misclassification Costs Steak 'n Shake $7.7 Million

A federal judge has ordered Steak 'n Shake to pay $7.7 million in back pay and liquidated damages for misclassifying store managers as exempt employees and failing to pay overtime. To be exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employee's primary duties must involve tasks related to managing the business and directing the work of other employees. The managers claimed that they worked 50- to 70-hour weeks, often performing duties typically assigned to hourly workers, but did not receive any overtime pay.

How Far USDOL's "Overtime Rule" Has Come, and How Far It Has Left to Go

The comment period for USDOL's most recent proposal regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act's white-collar exemptions (Overtime Rule 2.0) has closed. You probably have heard that the proposed salary level test is "too high" and "too low", and it all feels a bit like déjà vu. In actuality there have been some notable improvements up to this point, though hopefully more to come before finalization.