On March 7, 2019, The United States Department of Labor (DOL), announced a proposal to update the overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, employers are required to pay employees at least the minimum wage for all hours worked, and overtime pay (at 1 ½ times an employee’s regular rate) for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. To be exempt from these requirements, an employee must be paid on a salary basis, at or above a set minimum weekly salary level, and meet certain specific requirements concerning their job duties. In March 2014, President Obama directed the DOL to update and modernize regulations under the FLSA governing overtime exemptions for “white collar” employees (i.e., executive, administrative and professional employees). After receiving more than 270,000 comments, in May 2016, the DOL issued a final rule, substantially increasing the minimum salary levels for the overtime-exempt classifications, from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year), and incorporating mechanisms to adjust the salary level in the future (“2016 Rule”). Under the 2016 Rule, the salary level needed to satisfy the highly compensated employee (HCE) exemption (which includes a less stringent “duties” test), was set at $134,004 (increased from the $100,000 threshold in effect since...
With the final overtime rule for the “white collar” exempt employee minimum salary level issued by the United States Department of Labor (the “DOL”) on hold, the New York State Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rules may take precedence for New York employers. As we previously communicated, the DOL’s new overtime rule – which substantially increases the minimum salary that employers must pay to certain classes of employees to avoid the overtime pay requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“the FLSA”) – was scheduled to take effect December 1, 2016, but was placed on hold by a preliminary injunction issued by a Texas federal district court. New York State has now taken matters into its own hands independent of the now-suspended federal rule change.
The United States Department of Labor (“the DOL”) has finally issued the long-awaited rules dramatically increasing the minimum salary level for the overtime-exempt classifications under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“the FLSA”). The new rules also incorporate mechanisms to adjust this salary level in the future. The effect of future adjustments will require an employer to pay wage increases unrelated to the employer’s financial condition or employee performance. The new rules will have the greatest impact on those employees currently classified as exempt but who will not meet the new minimum salary threshold. These rules go into effect December 1, 2016, a date later than DOL originally communicated, which gives employers an opportunity to conduct a self-analysis to prepare for these changes.
Supreme Court Upholds Department of Labor’s Authority to Issue Interpretive Rules Without Public Notice or Comment
Rules promulgated by agencies of the federal government can be divided into those which have the force and effect of law and those which are merely “interpretative” or provide general statements of policy concerning the agency’s view of the law. When an agency wishes to promulgate rules having the force and effect of law it must comply with the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by, among other things, publishing the proposed rules in advance, allowing sufficient time for public comment and responding to significant comments received. In Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, the United States Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether the Department of Labor (the “DOL”) was free to reverse itself about the proper interpretation of the laws over which it has enforcement responsibility without giving notice or allowing public comment of the proposed change. The Court unanimously held that the DOL was free to do so.
The time warehouse workers spent waiting to undergo and undergoing antitheft security screenings before leaving work is not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et. seq., as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947, §251 et. seq. (Portal-to-Portal Act), according to the United States Supreme Court, which unanimously decided Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk on December 9, 2014.
Effective January 1, 2015, the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime exemption for “domestic service workers” will change, having significant ramifications for employers of these employees. Until this change, domestic service workers generally have been exempt from overtime compensation, which means they need not be paid at the rate of time and a half for hours worked in excess of 40 per workweek. The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a Fact Sheet to summarize the changes.
Eleventh Circuit Becomes Latest Court of Appeals to Enforce Agreement to Arbitrate FLSA Collective Action
On March 21, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit joined a growing number of federal Courts of Appeals to reject arguments that class waivers contained in arbitration agreements should not be enforced in the employment context. In Walthour v. Chipio Windshield Repair LLC, the Eleventh Circuit (which covers Georgia, Florida, and Alabama) upheld a broad arbitration provision which required employees to bring all employment claims in their “individual capacity and not as a plaintiff of class member in a purported class or representative proceeding ….”
All employers operating in either New York or New Jersey should take note that — effective immediately — the minimum hourly wage for non-exempt employees has increased. In New York, the minimum wage is now $8.00 per hour. In New Jersey, the minimum wage is now $8.25 per hour. In these states, employers must pay at least the new minimum hourly wage to non-exempt employees for each hour worked. Other than raising the hourly minimum wage, the changes do not alter the way that overtime is calculated.
In a major victory for pharmaceutical companies, the U.S. Supreme Court recently held that company sales representatives who promote their employer’s products to doctors and hospitals are exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). In doing so, the Court resolved a split in the Circuit Courts of Appeal over the scope of the “outside salesman” exemption to the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements. The Court’s holding in Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. regarding the scope of this exemption has provided much needed clarity to pharmaceutical companies and employers with similar types of sales forces who have relied – and hope to continue to rely – on the exemption.
Third Circuit Opens the Door for “Hybrid” Wage & Hour Claims in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
On March 27, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a precedential decision in Knepper v. Rite Aid Corp. which dramatically alters the landscape for wage and hour litigation for employers operating in the jurisdictions within the Third Circuit, i.e., in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Specifically, the Third Circuit ruled that the procedures for litigating a class action alleging state wage and hour violations is not “inherently incompatible” with the procedures for litigating a collective action under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). As a result, courts in these jurisdictions may well see a wave of hybrid class/collective actions alleging wage and hour violations under both the FLSA and the corresponding state wage and hour laws in the same complaint.