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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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31 Jul 2014 An Employer’s Liability Under The FLSA Can Be High

  Timekeeping software that automatically deducts meal break time from employee paychecks can be problematic for employers. This is because employees sometimes work through their meal breaks, and that exposes employers to liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA). The FLSA requires employers to pay employees for all of the time that the spend working – including the time that they spend working through their meal breaks.   We’ve mentioned all of this before. What we haven’t mentioned previously is how quickly the…

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18 Jul 2014 Collective and Class Actions: Interns, Assistant Managers – and their Lawyers! LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  While working through an alphabet of employment issues is not an exact science, the letter C must belong to collective and class actions. Collective and class actions in the employment arena are a longer term trend where a group of people with allegedly common legal issues can come together in a single action.   Often these actions involve very small alleged wrongs – ever receive a check for a few bucks in the mail because you, without lifting a finger, were part of a…

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19 Jun 2014 Revisiting Judicial Approval of Fair Labor Standards Act Settlements

  Over the past few weeks, there have been a slew of reported decisions in which federal judges have struck down proposed settlements of Fair Labor Standards Act claims. As many employers familiar with the FLSA know, court approval has long been recognized as a prerequisite for settling FLSA claims. Typically, court approval is not a difficult process: by the time the parties seek out the court’s blessing, they already have hammered out most of the terms following arm’s length negotiations. In other words, all…

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04 Jun 2014 Apple Employees Survive Summary Judgment in FLSA Bag Check Class Action

  Last week, in Frlekin v. Apple Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied Apple’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Labor Standards Act case filed by a class of its employees working in Apple Stores around the country. A class of current and former non-exempt specialists, managers, and Genius Bar employees claim Apple requires its hourly employees to undergo unpaid security checks each time they go off the clock for a meal break or at the end of…

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08 Apr 2014 Act One in Unpaid Intern Appeal Has Begun

  Act One has begun in the appeal of the unpaid movie and publishing interns.  The scene starts with adversaries finding themselves in the unusual position of playing the role of the appellant at the same time.  Cut to a flashback when last year, two New York federal district court judges reached contrary conclusions in the two separate cases that had been filed, with one judge granting and the other denying class certification.  Fast forward past the court’s granting interlocutory appeals in both cases and…

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29 Jan 2014 Supreme Court Rules That Donning And Doffing Time May Not Be Compensable

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in Sandifer v. U.S. Steel, unanimously holding that employees’ time spent donning and doffing protective gear was not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act because that time had been excluded from compensation in a collective bargaining agreement. A class of current and former U.S. Steel employees filed suit under the FLSA for back pay for time spent donning and doffing protective gear that U.S. Steel required them to wear. U.S. Steel claimed the time was not compensable under…

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22 Nov 2013 Commission or Piece-Rate? The Distinction Is Significant for FLSA Purposes

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) generally requires employers to pay employees at one-and-a-half times their hourly rate for every hour that they worked per week in excess of 40 hours. There are exceptions, though, and an Illinois federal court recently handed down a decision which illustrates one of them: Employees that are paid commissions on goods or services sold are exempt from overtime pay – if certain criteria are met – whereas employees who are paid piece-rate are not. At first blush, the distinction…

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15 Oct 2013 Federal Court Denies Class Certification, Preemptively Denies FLSA Collective Action – Class Members’ Experiences Too Varied

Plaintiffs seeking class certification of a group of California employees failed to establish that certification was proper, according to a federal district court in California. Additionally, the court preemptively denied approval of a nationwide collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, determining that the putative class members’ experiences varied too vastly. The case, Till et al. v. Saks, Inc., No. C 11-00504 SBA (N.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2013), was brought by Dawn Till, a former Assistant Manager and Team Merchandise Manager for Defendants, and…

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18 Sep 2013 Home Health Care Workers Now Protected Under the FLSA

On Tuesday, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued its Final Rule regarding home health care workers and protections under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Under the Final Rule, which will become effective Jan. 1, 2015, the minimum wage and overtime protections will extend to nearly 2 million in-home health care workers who care for the elderly, ill and disabled. The Final Rule revised certain definitions, including “domestic service employment” and “companionship services.”  Since 1974, “domestic service” employees have been covered by the FLSA and have…

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14 Mar 2013 Judicial Approval No More? The Days of Judicially Scrutinized FLSA Settlements May Be Drawing To a Close

The fact that the settlement of FLSA claims must be pre-approved by a federal court or the DOL has long been greeted by employers with the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands: nothing is worse than steering a hard-fought case to a resolution that is acceptable to both sides only to have the deal potentially torpedoed by a procedural hurdle at the last minute.  Nevertheless, that has long been the rule.  Best articulated by the seminal case of Lynn’s Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S.,…

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