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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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21 Feb 2013 U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Clarify FLSA’s Exemption for Donning and Doffing Time

The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Sandifer v. U.S. Steel, Corp., No. 12-417, in order to consider what constitutes “changing clothes” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The appeal was filed by a class of U.S. Steel, Corp. employees who alleged they were not paid for the time spent putting on and taking off their protective gear, in violation of the FLSA.  Though not addressing all aspects of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit’s dismissal of the employees’…

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01 Feb 2013 The FLSA Also Requires Employers To Provide Private Lactation Break Rooms

Most employers know that the Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA) requires them to pay a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Most employers know, too, that the FLSA requires them to pay overtime at one-and-a-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay. But many employers may not be aware that the FLSA, as amended by the Affordable Care Act, also requires that they provide break time and private spaces – other than bathrooms – for nursing mothers to express breast milk. The FLSA amendment…

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09 Jan 2013 8th Circuit Upholds Class Waivers in FLSA Cases

On Jan. 7, 2013, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision, holding that nothing in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits enforcement of an arbitration agreement that includes a class waiver. In Owen v. Bristol Care, Inc., former employee, Sharon Owen, brought several claims against Bristol Care, Inc. (“Bristol Care”) under the FLSA and attempted to seek class certification.  Bristol Care argued that Owen had waived all class claims when she executed the Mandatory Arbitration Agreement (Agreement) with the company.  Bristol…

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19 Dec 2012 When Numbers Count

Normally, numerosity is something a plaintiff needs to establish in order to maintain a class claim. Turning that factor neatly on its head, JPMorgan successfully defeated conditional certification of an FLSA collection action through the overwhelming support of its workforce in a recent decision out of the Middle District of Florida. The case, Hart v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., involved a debt collector who claimed that he worked about 3-4 hours a week for which he was not paid. Among other things, he claimed…

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08 Nov 2012 Losing A Fair Labor Standards Act Lawsuit Can Be Costly

The costliness of losing a Fair Labor Standards Act was recently illustrated in a case that was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.  In Monroe v. FTS USA LLC, the jury found that a cable company had improperly withheld overtime wages which should have been paid to 296 cable technicians.  The court eventually awarded $1.9 million in compensatory damages to the technicians.  The court then awarded an additional $1.9 million in liquidated damages because the jury had found that the…

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28 Sep 2012 Federal Court In Washington Rules That Sales Agent Is A Contractor, Not An Employee

Earlier this week the Western District of Washington provided a succinct illustration of the difference between independent contractors and employees. In Daskam v. Allstate (Case No. C11-0131RSL), the court shot down an FLSA claim by an Allstate sales agent who alleged that he had been misclassified as a contractor, and in reality, should have been treated as an employee entitled to overtime wage benefits. The sales agent built his case around the fact that he had a long-term relationship with Allstate and that the company…

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