In January and May 2011, we reported on a series of changes to New York Labor Law contained within the Wage Theft Prevention Act (“WTPA”). These changes are now applicable to all New York private-sector employers (including charter schools, private schools, and not-for-profit corporations). Affected New York employers must provide all employees with written pay notices at the time of hire on or before February 1 in each year.
Recent Case Law Focuses Heavily on “Outside Salesman” and “Administrative” Exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act
The issue of whether pharmaceutical 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”) has spurred litigation across the country. Courts have considered whether these employees are entitled to overtime compensation or are exempt under the “outside salesman” or “administrative” exemptions recognized by the FLSA. The results have been inconsistent, leaving employers with many questions. For example, the Second Circuit (covering the states of New York, Connecticut, Vermont) has held that the pharmaceutical company sales representatives at issue did not qualify for either the “outside salesman” or “administrative” exemptions and were entitled to overtime compensation. Conversely, the Ninth Circuit (covering California, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) recently held the pharmaceutical sales representatives were exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements under the “outside salesman” exemption, noting that the term “sale” must be ready broadly to include employees who “in some sense” sell. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Department of Labor regulations, which supported a finding that the “outside salesman” exemption applied to the pharmaceutical representatives, were entitled to substantial deference and disagreed with the Second Circuit’s conclusion to the contrary. Most recently, the Third Circuit (covering New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware) held that a pharmaceutical company’s sales representatives qualified for the “administrative” exemption in large part because they “executed nearly all of [their] duties without direct oversight.” Interestingly, despite the different results, the sales representatives at issue in the cases decided by the Second and Third Circuits performed similar functions.
Professionals Who Are Paid On An Hourly Basis May No Longer Be Exempt From Overtime Under New Regulations
As we previously reported on September 6, 2011, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) adopted the so-called “white collar” exemptions for Administrative, Executive, Professional, Outside Sales, and Computer employees as contained in the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Employers are not required to pay overtime compensation (i.e. compensation at the rate of 1.5 percent of the employee’s regular hourly rate) to an employee who qualifies for one of these exemptions. The new regulations were intended to provide consistency between federal and New Jersey law. They leave open the possibility, however, that employees who previously qualified for an exemption under New Jersey law may now have to be reclassified as non-exempt. The issue is raised by the New Jersey Appellate Division’s recent decision in Anderson, et al. v. Phoenix Health Care, Inc., et al.
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“NJDOL”) has adopted the so-called “white collar” exemptions for Administrative, Executive, Professional, Outside Sales, and Computer employees as contained within the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The adoption of these changes – which are considered by many to be long overdue – was announced in the New Jersey Register on September 6, 2011. The new regulations became effective immediately upon publication. As explained below, these changes will benefit employers and provide clarity and consistency to the wage and hour landscape in New Jersey.
We previously reported on a series of changes to New York Labor Law contained within the Wage Theft Prevention Act (“WTPA”) that are now applicable to all New York private-sector employers (including charter schools, private schools, and not-for-profit corporations). As discussed in our previous post, the WTPA requires New York employers to provide all employees with written pay notices at the time of hire and on or before February 1 of each year that include: the employee’s rate or rates of pay; the overtime rate of pay, if the employee is nonexempt; the basis of wage payment (e.g., per hour, per shift, per week, piece rate, commission, etc.); the allowances to be claimed against the minimum wage (e.g., tip, meal, and lodging allowances); the regular pay day; the employer’s name and any name under which the employer conducts business; the physical address of the employer’s main office or principal place of business (if different from the mailing address); and the employer’s telephone number.
On December 14, 2010, New York Governor David Patterson signed the Wage Theft Prevention Act (“WTPA”), a new law that significantly changes the wage and hour landscape for all New York employers. This amendment to the New York Labor Law targets those employers who engage in “wage theft” by underpaying employees. In application, however, the WTPA will affect all New York employers by imposing burdensome notification and recordkeeping requirements, expanding the scope of penalties for violations, and increasing opportunities for employment litigation through strengthened anti-retaliation provisions. In compliance with these new amendments, New York employers will need to amend their payroll practices on or before April 12, 2011.
Among the provisions of the sweeping federal health care legislation enacted earlier this year, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide a new break-time requirement for nursing mothers who are non-exempt employees. A new fact sheet recently issued by the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division supplies employers with information regarding the requirements of the new law.