Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The DOL Final Rule – Finally!

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released the long-awaited Final Rule on white collar exemptions which will go into effect December 1, 2016. The Final Rule significantly increases the minimum weekly salary amounts required for most exempt employee statuses and also increases the total annual compensation amount for the exempt category of highly compensated employees.

While the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires most employers to pay mandatory minimum wages and overtime pay to employees, certain employees are exempt. These exemptions generally require employers to pay a minimum salary and the employee to perform certain primary job duties.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

FLSA Fundamentals: The Taxing Taxonomy of Exempt Classifications

*In honor of the Fair Labor Standard Act’s 78th birthday and the highly anticipated changes to the DOL overtime regulations, the Modern Workplace is running a special multipart series entitled “FLSA Fundamentals” which will cover the basics of this important law and culminate in a discussion of the final changes to the regulation upon their release. This is the third post in that series.*

Given the time-intensive and nuanced analysis involved in calculating hours worked by non-exempt employees, compensable and non-compensable working time, and the regular rate of pay, many employers leap at the opportunity to avoid this rigmarole by classifying employees as exempt. As the next few posts in the “FLSA Fundamentals” series will demonstrate, however, properly classifying employees as exempt can be just as harrowing as non-exempt employee requirements. Employers need to beware of misclassifying employees as exempt, because misclassification can lead to multi-claimant lawsuits, awards of substantial damages, and enormous legal defense costs.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act Becomes Law

The Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), which was featured in our blog post last week, was signed into law by President Obama on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. As discussed in last week’s post, this important new federal law offers another avenue for employers to protect their valuable trade secrets. The DTSA creates two significant benefits for companies: (1) consistent and uniform law nationwide; and (2) guaranteed access to federal courts. It also provides for injunctive relief and additional monetary remedies. Now that the DTSA has been signed into law, companies seeking the benefit of the DTSA should consult legal counsel to add the new required notice to all confidentiality and trade secret agreements. And as always, employers should carefully identify their valuable trade secrets and take steps to protect that information. That much remains the same.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New Federal Trade Secrets Law – A New Weapon for the Protection of Employers’ Confidential Information

After several years of consideration, the U.S. Congress has finally passed legislation that will create a federal statute for the protection of trade secrets, entitled the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”). The DTSA had strong bipartisan support, passing in the Senate by a vote of 87-0 (on April 4) and passing by a vote of 410-2 in the House of Representatives (on April 27). President Obama has previously indicated that he will sign the legislation into law and that action is expected to occur soon. With its enactment, the DTSA will represent the first federal law protecting companies’ trade secrets.

Prior to the enactment of this law, businesses have obtained protection of their trade secrets on a state-by-state basis under state statutes. Forty-eight states have adopted a version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”), including Minnesota. Although there is significant similarity between most states’ version of the UTSA, some differences do exist and, perhaps more importantly, the courts in some states are more receptive to claims under that statute than courts in other states. The DTSA will not preempt (supplant and replace) state law and claims now will exist under both federal law and state law for the misappropriation of trade secrets (except for New York and Massachusetts, the only two UTSA hold-outs).

Monday, May 2, 2016

FLSA Fundamentals: What is Time? Compensable vs. Non-Compensable Time

*In honor of the Fair Labor Standard Act’s 78th birthday and the highly anticipated changes to the DOL overtime regulations, the Modern Workplace is running a special multipart series entitled “FLSA Fundamentals” which will cover the basics of this important law and culminate in a discussion of the final changes to the regulation upon their release. This is our second post in that series.*

Additional contributions by Dorrie Larison.


As discussed in our previous FLSA blog post, it is crucial for an employer to accurately calculate a non-exempt employee’s “regular rate of pay.” If you missed it, the correct calculation method for the “regular rate of pay” can be found here.

It is also important to remember that employers are required to pay their non-exempt employees for all hours worked, even when the employer did not expressly request or authorize the work. Many employers have policies or rules requiring non-exempt employees to take an unpaid lunch break and to obtain advance permission to work overtime hours. Even when a non-exempt employee violates such rules, the employee typically must be paid for the work time, given that the FLSA provides that the employee must be paid so long as the employer “suffers or permits” the employee to work. An employee can be disciplined for violating an employer’s break and work time rules, but generally still must be paid. Again, employers must pay non-exempt employees for all hours worked.
All means all.