An online ticket broker that sells tickets to concerts, sporting events, and the theater qualifies as a “retail or service establishment” under Section 207(i) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), Judge John Lee of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held. Blahnik v. Box Office Ticket Sales, LLC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45158 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2017).
Articles Discussing Wage And Hour Issues In Particular Industries.
xecutive Summary: On January 9, 2017, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Navarro v. Encino Motorcars, for the second time, that service advisors at automotive dealerships are not exempt from overtime. In 2015, the Ninth Circuit relied on U.S. Department of Labor regulations to hold that service advisors are not exempt. In June 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that ruling, finding that the regulations were not entitled to deference, and directed the Ninth Circuit to reconsider the issue without regard to the DOL regulations.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 granted certiorari in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro to resolve a circuit split regarding whether “service advisors” at automobile dealerships are exempt from receiving overtime under the Fair Labor Standard Act pursuant to an exemption for any “salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles.” The federal appeals court in San Francisco, deferring to a 2011 Department of Labor regulation, had held service advisors are not covered by the exemption and, therefore, are entitled to overtime.
Employers have been busily preparing in anticipation of a December 1, 2016 effective date for new federal regulations established by the Department of Labor (the “DOL”) that would have increased the requisite salary level for employees to qualify as exempt from overtime under the so-called white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).Yesterday, however, a Texas Judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the scheduled increase. The injunction, which applies nationwide, was issued in connection with a legal challenge filed by 21 states and numerous business groups in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Over the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court punted on the question of whether “Service Advisers” or “Service Writers” at auto dealerships fall within the Fair Labor Standards Act’s exemption for “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles.” For those outside of the auto industry, these are the people who greet you when you pull into the service department and communicate with you about what work your car might need. Since the question of whether service advisers count as “salesmen” may not be definitively resolved for some time yet, many auto dealers find themselves looking for other overtime exemptions that may apply to these positions.
Executive Summary. In a case with far reaching implications, Cowell v. Utopia Home Care, Inc., 2:14-cv-00736-LDW-SIL, Magistrate Judge Steven Locke of the Eastern District of New York (covering Brooklyn, Queens and Long island) ruled that claims of failure to pay home care workers for hours worked and overtime are not suitable for a collective action where the workers’ conditions of employment vary so much between different home care workers and even for the same worker when working for different patients. This could prove to be a very important decision for the home care industry in New York, which has been battered by collective and class action complaints by a very active plaintiff attorneys bar. Every home care agency in New York is a potential target because home care workers can recover double damages and their attorneys’ fees if they prevail.
While Department of Labor regulations interpreting the FLSA remain the primary source of employer guidance regarding the Act’s requirements, they are not necessarily the final word on what federal wage law requires. This is so even where they have been subject to “notice and comment,” triggering a higher level of judicial deference.
Executive Summary: Claims by home care workers for unpaid overtime have risen steadily since the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2015, eliminated the federal overtime exemptions that allowed agency employers essentially to pay no overtime wage premiums. This has greatly affected agency employers In New York, who are increasingly seeing class action suits being filed against them. It has also affected individuals, families and households in New York who hire home care workers directly, especially when the home care worker is an agency-employer worker who is continued for extra hours in a workweek. Since 2010, the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights has required “direct-hire” employers of home care workers to pay overtime at time and one half the worker’s regular rate. When an agency worker is continued for extra hours by an individual, family or household, both can be held liable for unpaid overtime on all hours worked over 40 in a workweek, regardless of who scheduled the hours. Beyond the agency and individual, family, or household, others who have the power, whether or not exercised, to hire, employ, or pay the worker, such as a child or relative who takes care of a client’s affairs or an attorney acting under a power of attorney or as a legal guardian, conservator, or trustee, are also at risk of being held liable.
The Fair Labor Standards Act has long provided that an employer may satisfy its federal minimum wage obligations for a tipped employee by applying the employee’s tips as a credit toward the minimum wage and, in doing so, directly pay such employee less than the general minimum wage. If the employer’s wages plus the employee’s tips do not equal or exceed the minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. Moreover, in order to take advantage of the tip credit, the employer is required to notify its tipped employees that it is taking the tip credit and to provide certain information pertaining to the credit.
On July 26, 2016, Judge William S. Duffey of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a decision holding that an employer does not have to ensure tipped employees retain all of their tips if the company is not using the employee’s tips to satisfy part of the minimum wage pursuant to the FLSA’s “tip credit” provision, 29 U.S.C. § 203(m). In Malivuk v. AmeriPark, LLC, the plaintiff sued defendant AmeriPark, LLC (a provider of valet parking services) under the FLSA claiming that Ameripark illegally withheld tips paid to her and other valets. Malivuk v. AmeriPark, LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97093 (N.D. Ga. July 26, 2016).
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concluded on June 14, 2016 that an employer may not deduct more than the actual credit card fees associated with liquidated credit card tips for employees without compromising the tip credit taken by the employer against the employee’s wages. Steele v. Leasing Enterprises, Ltd., No. 15, 20139 is an important decision for employers with operations in the Fifth Circuit because it endorses for the first time other courts’ conclusions that certain deductions may be made against an employee’s tips by an employer without disturbing the tip credit, but illustrates the danger in overreaching in those deductions.
On June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ petition for a writ of certiorari in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, leaving the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Home Care Rule intact.1 The Home Care Rule has extended minimum wage and overtime requirements to the vast majority of home care workers by eliminating the availability to third-party agencies of the companionship and live-in domestic service worker exemptions and by dramatically narrowing the definition of companionship services.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, No. 15-415 (June 20, 2016), to resolve a circuit court split regarding whether “service advisors” are exempt from receiving overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Although the parties thoroughly briefed the issue, the Court did not resolve the question. Instead, as Justice Clarence Thomas noted in his dissent, the Court decided to “punt” (likely due to an inability to garner a majority opinion because of the vacancy at the Court caused by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death that has left it with just eight members since February). Automobile dealers are likely to face uncertainty a while longer.
Hospitality industry employers take note: If you claim a “tip credit” toward the minimum wage for any of your employees, you need to make sure that all tips are properly distributed to employees. A recent case from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals involving a Texas restaurant chain illustrates the hazards of making a mistake with the tip credit rules. Steele v. Leasing Enterprises, Ltd. (.pdf)
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro case, that many hoped would resolve the issue as to whether Service Advisors at auto dealerships are exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).