Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Lions and Tigers and Bears — In the Workplace??

After a surge of unorthodox flight companions — ranging from pigs, to squirrels, and even a peacock — the U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced a proposed rule that would allow only specially trained emotional support dogs to qualify as service animals and to fly, free of charge, on domestic flights. This proposed rule change comes after multiple complaints from flight attendants, fellow passengers, and advocacy groups about the rise in untrained animals aboard domestic flights and the impact on others on flights. Such complaints have included allergies, safety concerns (i.e. biting, lunging, or animals going into “attack mode” while in a confined space), and sanitation.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Minnesota Supreme Court Upholds Minneapolis Minimum Wage Ordinance

Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling that upheld the City of Minneapolis’s $15 per hour minimum wage ordinance. Graco, Inc. sued the City over the ordinance back in 2017, arguing that the state of Minnesota’s lower minimum wage law preempted the Minneapolis ordinance and seeking a permanent injunction against the ordinance’s enforcement. In a unanimous decision issued last Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the state legislature did not intend to occupy the field of minimum-wage rates. The Court also held that the City ordinance was valid, because it does not prevent employers from also complying with the lower state minimum wage. In other words, the state law sets a minimum wage floor for employers, but does not set a ceiling on the hourly rate that employers might be required to pay.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

U.S. DOL Publishes Final Rule on Joint Employer Liability Under the FLSA

On January 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its final rule regarding joint-employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal wage and hour law. This final rule provides a more employer-friendly joint employer liability standard than previous guidance issued by the DOL under the Obama administration.

In recent years, many employment lawsuits have been brought against entities that do not technically employ the workers bringing the employment-related claims, but may exert some level of control or influence over their employment (such as staffing companies, franchisors, and general contractors). For example, franchisee employees have tried to make franchisors responsible as “joint employers” for wage and hour violations committed by franchisees. The final rule is meant to provide some clarity on how these claims should be analyzed. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Welcome to the New Year — Required Changes to Wage and Hour Laws

Employers should be aware that the start of the New Year ushered in changes to federal, state and local government wage and hour laws. Some of those changes include the following:
  • The minimum salary for executive, administrative and professional employees who are exempt from the overtime requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has increased from $455 to $684 per week ($35,568 per year). 
  • The annual compensation now required to meet the exemption under the FLSA for highly compensated employees has been raised to $107,432.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Workplace Tips for the Holiday Season

Happy Thanksgiving! With the holiday season upon us, we wanted to give you a quick refresher on some tricky workplace issues that are common this time of year.

Holiday Parties

While holiday parties can increase morale and provide an opportunity for team building, without planning and forethought, holiday parties can cause human resources issues that will follow you well into the new year.

Wage and Hour Issues

If you require non-exempt employees to attend a holiday party, you must compensate them for the time they spend there. If the party occurs during normal work hours, non-exempt employees are likely being compensated anyway, but pay is also required for off-hours parties if attendance is mandated. In addition, any mandatory time spent at the party counts as work time for overtime calculation purposes. The simplest way to avoid additional pay obligations, if desired, is to plan parties for non-work hours and to clearly communicate that attendance is optional for non-exempt employees.

Monday, November 18, 2019

This Holiday Season, Beware the Unpaid Volunteer

As Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaches, companies often look for ways to contribute to charitable causes within their communities. One way they might accomplish this worthwhile endeavor is by creating and encouraging their employees to participate in formal volunteer opportunities. This is a great way for companies to give back and for individual employees to take a break from the rigors of everyday business life and focus on helping others. Whether employees should be compensated for participating in these “volunteer” activities, however, is not always clear, and if companies aren’t careful, they could be the recipients of an unwanted gift this season — a wage and hour lawsuit.

There are a few key concepts under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that employers must be aware of when it comes to volunteers. An overarching principle is that individuals may not provide volunteer services to for-profit companies under any circumstances. That rule is easy to follow, but what about situations where an employer is “sponsoring” volunteer activities in the community and encouraging (or rewarding) their employees’ attendance at such activities? In that situation, caselaw and guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) suggests that a nonexempt employee performing volunteer services need not be compensated if each of the following criteria are met:

Friday, October 25, 2019

Driver Safety Programs and Distracted Driving Initiatives – OSHA Pushes to Reduce the Risk of Serious Injury and Company Losses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recenty rolled out programs and publications aimed at encouraging employers to focus on programs related to safety on the roadways.

In its Guidelines for Employers to ReduceMotor Vehicle Crashes publication (Guidelines), OSHA states that “every 12 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash, every 10 seconds an injury occurs, and every five seconds a crash occurs.” The Guidelines point out that many of these incidents occur during the workday or commute to and from work.