Friday, August 16, 2019

New Compliance Tools From the Department of Labor

As part of its ongoing efforts to assist employers in understanding their responsibilities under federal employment law, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor recently added publically available presentations to its website.  The presentations cover topics under the Fair Labor Standards Act, such as wage and hour requirements, child labor requirements, and an employer’s responsibilities to provide rest breaks and proper facilities for nursing mothers.

During the past year the Department of Labor has added other content to its online materials including the Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Department states that these online tools are designed to ensure a greater understanding of the federal labor laws and regulations.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Minneapolis Passes Wage Theft Ordinance, Adding Requirements Beyond State Law

The Minneapolis City Council adopted a new “Wage Theft” ordinance on August 8 that adds requirements on top of those in the new Minnesota Wage Theft law that became effective July 1. The city ordinance will be effective January 1, 2020, and will require employers to satisfy the city’s wage theft requirements for all employees who work at least 80 hours in a year within the geographical boundaries of Minneapolis, regardless of the location of the employer. Violations of the ordinance subject an employer to a variety of damages, costs, and penalties.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Do Your Employees Know When Their Commissions and Bonuses are “Earned”? Dealing with Minnesota’s New Wage Theft Statute

As we discussed in prior posts (“Minnesota’sNew Wage Theft Law: Are You Prepared?” and “Minneapolis Wants a Piece of the Wage Theft Pie”), Minnesota’s 2019 legislature passed expansive new “wage theft” protections for employees. Most of the new law’s provisions became effective July 1. The new criminal penalties for intentional wage theft are effective August 1. While the new law contains numerous significant changes to wage-related notice and recordkeeping requirements, payment of commissions and bonuses is also affected and deserves an employer’s close attention to achieve compliance without creating unnecessary burdens.

Bonuses are “earnings,” which the law dictates be paid at least every 31 days. For commissions, the new law provides that “all commissions earned by an employee” must be paid at least once every three months. Payment of commissions must be made “on a regular payday designated in advance by the employer regardless of whether the employee requests payment at longer intervals.” If commissions or bonuses are not paid within the required time from when they are earned, the Minnesota Commissioner of Labor and Industry may serve a demand for payment on behalf of the employee. If an earned bonus or commission is not paid within 10 days of the Commissioner’s demand, the MN Department of Labor and Industry may charge and collect the bonus or commission, along with a substantial penalty for each day beyond the 10-day limit.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Minneapolis Wants a Piece of the Wage Theft Pie

On the heels of the new Minnesota state wage theft law, which went into effect on July 1st, the Minneapolis City Council has proposed a city wage theft ordinance. The proposed Minneapolis ordinance mirrors the new state law in many respects, but includes some additional requirements. The City’s ordinance would require employers to put all pay agreements in writing and provide regular written or electronic earnings statements to workers. The proposal also includes a streamlined resolution process for wage disputes that does not require an employee to have an attorney and creates a presumption of retaliation if any adverse employment action occurs within 90 days of a wage complaint. A companion proposal brought by the City Council would expand these employee protections to freelance workers, such as independent contractors and ride-share drivers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Lessons Learned from Two Recent Seventh Circuit ADA Cases

Last month, the Seventh Circuit (which has jurisdiction over appeals from federal district courts in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin) decided two cases with claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In one case, the Seventh Circuit joined multiple other circuits in holding that obesity, on its own, is not a protected disability under the ADA. In the other, however, the Seventh Circuit revived claims of an employee who alleges he was discriminated against due to his alcoholism.

Richardson v. Chicago Transit Authority

During an examination of his fitness to return to work, a driver for the CTA was found to be over the seat manufacturer’s maximum weight of 400 pounds. The CTA put the driver on temporary medical disability and he remained on inactive status for two years. When he did not submit the medical documentation required to extend his status for another year, the CTA terminated his employment.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Minnesota’s New Wage Theft Law: Are You Prepared?

Governor Tim Walz recently signed into law expansive new wage theft protections for employees that will go into effect on July 1. The new law significantly changes a number of employer wage-related requirements. It also includes increased civil enforcement penalties, as well as new criminal penalties for intentional wage theft. The major requirements of the law are summarized below:

Earning Statements

The law requires that employers include additional information in the earning statements provided to employees at the end of each pay period. Employers must now include 1) the rate or rates of pay. including the basis of that rate (hourly, salary, etc.) 2) allowances claimed for permitted meals and lodging; 3) the physical address of the employer’s main office and any different mailing address; and 4) the employer’s telephone number.

Employee Wage Notice Upon Hire

The law requires a written notice be provided to each employee at the start of employment, which must include the following:

Friday, June 7, 2019

Employer Must Timely Assert a Title VII Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies Defense or Waives the Defense

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that Title VII’s requirement that claimants exhaust administrative remedies by filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before suing is not jurisdictional. The decision, issued in Fort Bend County v. Davis, means that an employer that fails to timely assert a “failure to exhaust” affirmative defense to a lawsuit waives the ability to later seek dismissal of the suit on this ground. As a result of the Court’s ruling, employers need to be vigilant in timely asserting any failure to exhaust defense at the outset of litigation to preserve the defense.