Tagged: Wage & Hour

New Jersey Supreme Court Decision Explains Requirements to Assert Statutory Good Faith Defense to Wage and Hour Claims

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that employers could not rely on determinations made by subordinate employees of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“Department”) to support a “good faith” exemption from New Jersey’s overtime pay mandates, instead finding such determinations must come from either the Commissioner of the Department or the Director of the Division of Wage and Hour Bureau. In Elmer Branch v. Cream-O-Land Dairy, the plaintiff Elmer Branch, a truck driver, filed a putative class action lawsuit against his employer Cream-O-Land Dairy (“Cream-O-Land” or “the defendant”) for payment of overtime wages under the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (WHL). The plaintiff claimed that he, along with other “similarly situated truck drivers” employed by the defendant, were eligible for overtime pay at 1½ times their regular hourly wage. Cream-O-Land asserted two principal arguments in defense of the lawsuit: (1) it is exempt from the overtime requirements of the WHL because it is a “trucking industry” employer (and thus required to pay employees only 1½ times the minimum wage as opposed to 1½ times the employees’ regular rate of pay); and (2) it relied in “good faith” on certain prior determinations made by the Department finding that Cream-O-Land qualified as a “trucking industry employer” under the WHL and, therefore,...

U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Meaning of “Changing Clothes” Under FLSA

On January 27, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp., which clarified what it means for an employee to be “changing clothes” under Section 3(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The Court’s decision will affect unionized workplaces, where employees change in and out of (or “don and doff”) protective or sanitary clothing in connection with their jobs.

Minimum Wage Increased in New York and New Jersey; Salary Basis Requirements Increased in New York

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.

Second Circuit Declines to Rehear Decision Allowing Class Action Waivers in FLSA Suits

The question concerning the enforceability of class action waivers in arbitration agreements to foreclose an employee’s ability to litigate collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) has been answered affirmatively in New York by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 15, 2013, the Second Circuit rejected a rehearing petition from Stephanie Sutherland, a former Ernst & Young LLP employee, who challenged a class action wavier in an arbitration agreement that barred her from pursuing a collective action for overtime pay under the FLSA. The decision lets stand the Circuit Court’s August 9th panel ruling that an employee can be required as a condition of employment to waive, pursuant to an arbitration agreement, the right to bring a collective or class action.

The Supreme Court Addresses Offers of Judgment in the Context of Collective Actions

In Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symcyk, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a vote of 5 to 4, rejected an employee’s contention that her employer should not have been permitted to thwart her attempt to bring a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by making an offer of judgment to her under Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that included all of the relief to which she would have been entitled in connection with her individual FLSA claim. The Court’s April 16, 2013, ruling provides encouragement to employers who may seek to block an FLSA collective action with an offer of judgment–although, as detailed below, the Court’s opinion did leave one issue unresolved. The Court’s opinion also applies to cases brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), as both of those statutes are governed by the collective action procedures of the FLSA rather than by the class action procedures of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

New Jersey Legislative Update: The Assembly “Wages” Campaign to Benefit Employees

On December 17, 2012, the New Jersey Assembly approved two pieces of wage-related legislation that each have the potential to significantly alter New Jersey State Labor Law. Assembly Bill No. 3581 (Wage Withholding) – The bill strengthens the enforcement procedures and disorderly person sanctions against employers who fail to timely pay wages, compensation or benefits to their employees and makes it easier for employees to report such employer violations.

New York Expands Scope of Permissible Deductions From Employee Wages

Effective November 6, 2012, amendments to Section 193 of the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”) will expand the list of items that private sector employers may deduct from employee paychecks to include, among other things, repayment of pay advances and overpayment of wages. Employers will welcome this amendment to the current version of the law, which limits permissible deductions only to those made for United States bonds, insurance premiums, pension contributions, charitable donations, and payments due to labor organizations (such as union dues).

Third Circuit Establishes Test for Determining “Joint Employer” Liability Under the FLSA

A recent Third Circuit decision, In re Enterprise Rent-A-Car Wage & Hour Employment Practices Litigation, addresses the circumstances under which a parent company will be liable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) as a “joint employer” of employees of the parent’s subsidiaries. The Third Circuit’s opinion gives concrete guidance to employers confronted by the broad definition of “employer” set forth in the FLSA’s regulations, providing a standard for assessing joint employer liability. (The FLSA defines an employer as “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.”) Although the standard announced by the Third Circuit is by no means a bright-line test, it does provide fair notice to employers of the factors that will determine joint employer status.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against OT Pay for Pharmaceutical Salespeople

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.

Seventh Circuit Applies FLSA’s Administrative Exemption to Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has held that two pharmaceutical companies did not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay overtime to their sales representatives, concluding that the FLSA’s “administrative exemption” from the statute’s overtime requirements was applicable to these employees. Although the Court’s opinion focused on the job duties of pharmaceutical sales representatives (PSRs), the Court’s analysis of the general scope of the administrative exemption may prove useful to employers in other industries.