In the run-up to the holidays, Congress rushed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to President Obama’s desk entitled the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015. The omnibus spending bill, nicknamed “CRomnibus,” avoided another government shutdown and funded most federal agencies (save for the Department of Homeland Security) through the federal government’s 2015 fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2015. As with many omnibus spending bills, Congress buried in the CRomnibus a number of actions intended to restrict federal agencies’ activities and, in some cases, to make substantial changes to existing laws. Of particular note to readers of this blog, both the Department of Labor and the trucking industry came out winners in the wage and hour world. CRomnibus increased funding for the Department of Labor and several of its subagencies, and handed motor carriers a temporary reprieve from the FMCSA’s 2013 maximum hours-of-work regulations.
Articles Discussing General Topics Under The FLSA.
U.S. District Court Blocks U.S. DOL’s New Definition of Companionship Services Under FLSA
Executive Summary: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has issued a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) blocking the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) from enforcing the new definition of Companionship Services in its Final Rule on the Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service Order (“Final Rule”), which was set to take effect, January 1, 2015. On December 22, 2014, this same court had vacated the Final Rule’s differing treatment of home care agencies versus direct-hire employers, such as individuals, families, and households, stating that both should benefit similarly from the “companionship services” and “live-in” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). To determine whether a Preliminary Injunction should issue, the court will hold a hearing on January 9, 2015.
The Pay Period Leap Year: Handling an Extra Pay Period in 2015
When I was a kid, my parents taught me the traditional Mother Goose rhyme to remember how many days each month had: “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31….Except for February.” It always seemed odd that this supposed Mother Goose rhyme couldn’t figure out how to fit February in. The payroll calendar, at least for those employers with bi-weekly pay periods, doesn’t fit it in either. That means that while 2015 isn’t a leap year on the calendar, it will be a Pay Period Leap Year for many employers.
Automatic Meal Period Deductions and the FLSA [Wage and Hour FAQ]
As you know, under the FLSA, “bona fide meal periods” are not regarded as work time and can be unpaid. For a break to qualify as a bona fide meal period, “[t]he employee must be completely relieved from duty for purposes of eating regular meals,” and the break must generally be at least 30 minutes or longer. The rules even allow periods shorter than 30 minutes to qualify as unpaid “under special circumstances.” For example, in a 2004 opinion letter, the Department of Labor found that an employer could permissibly reduce its 30-minute unpaid lunch break to 20 minutes and provide an extra 10 to 15-minute paid break, given that the employer and employees’ union agreed to the arrangement and that it took employees only one to one-and-a-half minutes to reach the break room once they were relieved from duty.
Wage and Hour Cases to Watch at the Supreme Court: Part 2–Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association
As we discussed recently, this month marked the opening of the Supreme Court’s new term. For employment law practitioners, this session will be particularly busy with seven cases analyzing a range of employment questions, from the scope of the EEOC’s duty to conciliate discrimination claims to the applicability of whistleblower protection laws and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. In Part 1 of this series, we discussed Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk.
9th Circuit Joins Other Circuits Requiring Facts in FLSA Complaints
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has joined the First, Second, and Third Circuits in requiring employees asserting claims for unpaid overtime or minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act to allege facts showing at least one week when they worked in excess of 40 hours and were not paid overtime or minimum wage.
Video Interview: Discussing the Election’s Impact on Wage & Hour Laws with LXBN TV
Following up on my post on the subject, I had the opportunity to discuss the impact of the 2014 Election on wage and hour laws around the country.
If I was Secretary of Labor: Fixing the FLSA with a Safe Harbor
Last week, I answered some of the questions that we have been receiving about the new FLSA regulations, but I saved one that I hear almost everywhere I go: what should the Department of Labor do with the FLSA? Last week, I said “start over.” Of course, that’s not going to happen. Scrapping the FLSA and starting over is not an option right now, realistically or politically. If I was Secretary of Labor, what would I do? Develop a safe harbor for employers.
Fear and Loathing in D.C.: More Thoughts and Predictions about the New FLSA Regulations
For most of the year, we have been discussing the upcoming FLSA regulations and what employers can expect related to the white collar exemptions. Recently, the DOL delayed the release of proposed rules, potentially for several months. The DOL’s announcement has raised a host of questions, some of which I discussed with SHRM’s legal editor, Allen Smith, this week. The DOL’s own “savage journey to the heart of the American Dream”—at least the part of it that defines how you must be paid while chasing it—continues to raise questions for employers (apologies to Hunter S. Thompson fans…I couldn’t resist). With Election Day upon us, it is a good time to take a deeper look at this issue and review some of the top questions we have received on this topic.
Wage and Hour 2014 Election Results Roundup: Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave Big Winners
Before the election, we talked about minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives on the rise, including some important ballot issues. With most of the results tallied, it appears that the Republicans weren’t the only big winners in the 2014 midterm elections last night. While the GOP retaking the Senate majority and reaching historic majority margins in the House garnered most of the national headlines, if you look just below the fold, minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives were the other big winners of the night.
Wage and Hour Cases to Watch at the Supreme Court: Part 1 — Integrity Staffing
This month marked the opening of the Supreme Court’s new term. For employment law practitioners, this session will be particularly busy with seven cases analyzing a range of employment questions, from the scope of the EEOC’s duty to conciliate discrimination claims (Mach Mining v. EEOC, oral argument set for January 2015 or later) to the applicability of a whistleblower protection law to employees who make disclosures “specifically prohibited by law” (Dep’t of Homeland Security v. MacLean, oral argument November 8). Over at the FMLA Insights blog, my colleague Jeff Nowak discusses Young v. UPS, where the Court will consider whether, and in what circumstances, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations to also provide work accommodations to pregnant employees with similar work limitations.
DOL Makes It Official: New FLSA Regulations Delayed Until 2015
Back in late May, we told you that the Department of Labor had released its required Semiannual Regulatory Agenda. The Agenda, which is not binding on the DOL, included several FLSA-related items. Most importantly, the DOL listed its plans to address the “white collar” overtime exemption regulations with proposed rules next month, in November 2014. The section, “Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales, and Computer Employees,” appears on page 56 and 57 of the Agenda. At the time, we predicted that “even with a short 30-day comment period and a quick turnaround on a final rule, the DOL is unlikely to have any new regulation in place before spring 2015.”
The “Winner” and Other Losers: What “Winning” That Wage & Hour Suit Might Get You
One of my favorite authors and artists as a kid was Shel Silverstein, and I have loved rediscovering his books and poems with my daughter (“The Giving Tree” is much sadder than I remember as a kid—something about having kids of your own, I imagine).
Under the FLSA, a Day Late is a Dollar Short [Wage & Hour FAQ]
From time to time, we hear from employers that ask us about the consequence of delaying payroll because of cash flow.
Are You Secretly Running a Construction Business? State Law Says You Might Be!
I promise that this post isn’t a bad setup to a joke about The Sopranos, the mafia, or being in “waste