Category: Wage and Hour

Supreme Court Holds FLSA Overtime Exemptions Not to be Construed Narrowly

Supreme Court Holds FLSA Overtime Exemptions Not to be Construed Narrowly

On April 2, 2018, in Encino Motorcars, LLC, v. Navarro, the Supreme Court held that auto service advisors – those who “interact with customers and sell them services for their vehicles” – are exempt from the overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“the FLSA”). The Court’s decision will certainly affect auto service advisors, but its impact will not be limited to the auto dealership industry. The crux of the Court’s decision centered around Section 13(b)(10)(A) of the FLSA, which states that “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles” is exempt from the FLSA overtime requirement. In a 5-4 decision, the majority found that a service advisor is “obviously a salesman” under the ordinary meaning of salesman, given that a salesman sells goods or services and service advisors “sell [customers] services for their vehicles.” The Court also found that service advisors are “primarily engaged in . . . servicing automobiles” due to their integral involvement in the servicing process. Thus, the Court held that sales advisors are exempt from the FLSA overtime pay requirement under Section 13(b)(10)(A). Significantly, in reaching its conclusion, the majority departed from the Supreme Court’s longstanding principle that FLSA...

DOL Adopts Primary Beneficiary Test to Determine Intern Status Under Wage Hour Law

DOL Adopts Primary Beneficiary Test to Determine Intern Status Under Wage Hour Law

On January 5, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) withdrew its six-factor test, established by a 2010 DOL guidance, used to determine whether interns and students are considered employees and, thus, covered by the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), and, in its place, adopted a seven-factor test – listed in Fact Sheet 71 – applied by the Second Circuit in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. The abandoned six-factor test, issued under the Obama Administration, required that all of the criteria be met in order to find that an intern is not an employee under the FLSA. In 2015, the Second Circuit disregarded the DOL test in the Glatt ruling. In deciding against the unpaid interns at Fox Searchlight, the Second Circuit held that the six-factor test was too rigid. Subsequently, the Second Circuit ruled that in determining whether interns are classified as employees under the FLSA, the “economic reality” between the intern and the employer should be evaluated to determine which party is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship. The Second Circuit applied a non-exhaustive list of seven factors to use in the “primary beneficiary” test, but cautioned that “[a]pplying these considerations requires weighing and balancing all of the...

New York City Salary History Law Takes Effect

New York City Salary History Law Takes Effect

As discussed in our “New York Employer’s Mid-Year Review” blog post, Local Law 67 (“salary history law”) took effect on October 31, 2017, and prohibits all New York City employers, employment agencies, and their employees and agents (collectively “employers”) from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history (including current or prior wages, benefits, and other compensation) during the hiring process, and from relying on an applicant’s salary history when determining his or her compensation package. As discussed in detail in the above-referenced blog post, the law does not prohibit a candidate from voluntarily (and without prompting) disclosing his or her salary history, and, in that situation, employers may consider and verify salary history in setting compensation. The law also includes specific exemptions and provides for the same remedies as other claims brought under the New York City Human Rights Law. The New York City Commission on Human Rights, which has enforcement responsibilities for the salary history law, recently issued Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”), which clarify the scope of the law’s coverage, what employers are permitted and not permitted to do in connection with salary inquiries, the definition of compensation, and best practices. Some key points set forth in the FAQs, include,...

Third Circuit Affirms that Short Breaks, Treated as Flex Time, are Compensable

Third Circuit Affirms that Short Breaks, Treated as Flex Time, are Compensable

On October 13, 2017, the Third Circuit held in Secretary United States Department of Labor v. American Future Systems, Inc., that under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employer was required to compensate employees for all breaks of twenty minutes or less that the employer treated as flex time for the employees. Facts and Analysis Defendant American Future Systems, d/b/a Progressive Business Publications (“Progressive”) employed sales representatives to sell its business publications. The sales representatives were paid on an hourly basis, but only when logged onto their computers. In 2009, Progressive eliminated its policy that permitted employees to take two 15 minute paid breaks per day and replaced it with a “flexible time” policy. The flexible time policy allowed sales representatives to “log-off the computer system at any time of the day, for any reason, and for any length of time, at which point, if they so choose, they may leave the office.” Employees were required to log off their computers if they were “not on an active sales call, recording the results of a call, engaged in training or administrative activities, or engaged in other activities that Progressive considers to be work-related.” If sales representatives were logged out...

New York Employers Mid-Year Review

New York Employers Mid-Year Review

In 2017, employers in New York encountered several important statutory changes affecting recruitment of applicants and retention of independent contractors. More legal change will come in 2018, warranting a mid-year review of current employment and hiring practices, as well as preparation for next year’s developments. Employers should take the time now to audit current practices and prepare for the imminent future. Pay Equity On May 4, 2017, Local Law 67 was enacted to prohibit all employers in New York City from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history (including current or prior wages, benefits, and other compensation), and from relying on an applicant’s salary history when determining his or her compensation package during the hiring process, including contract negotiations. The law applies to both public and private employers and employment agencies, and to their employees and agents (collectively, “employers”). Employers may, however, engage in communications with an applicant about his or her expectations as to salary, benefits, and compensation, including any deferred compensation or unvested equity which the applicant may forfeit as a result of leaving his or her current employer. In addition, if the candidate voluntarily (and without any prompting by the prospective employer), discloses his or her salary history to...

Federal DOL Rescinds Joint Employer and Independent Contractor Guidance

Federal DOL Rescinds Joint Employer and Independent Contractor Guidance

On June 7, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”), Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”), announced that it was rescinding two significant and heavily-criticized Obama-era Administrator’s Interpretations, the first on joint employer liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq. (“FLSA”) and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (“MSPA”) (the “Joint Employer AI”), and the second on independent contractor misclassification under the FLSA (the “Independent Contractor AI”). In its June 7th statement concerning the rescissions, the DOL made its intentions clear: Removal of the two administrator interpretations does not change the legal responsibilities of employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act or Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, as reflected in the Department’s long-standing regulations and case law. The Department will continue to fully and fairly enforce all laws within its jurisdiction including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. Although neither AI constituted a legal precedent, the January 2016 Joint Employer AI presented the DOL’s analysis of the joint employer principles under caselaw interpreting the FLSA and the MSPA. Gibbons issued an alert about the Joint Employer AI...

Philadelphia Adopts Wage Equity Ordinance

Philadelphia Adopts Wage Equity Ordinance

On January 23, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed the Wage Equity Bill into law. The new law, influenced by the Massachusetts pay equity law, makes it unlawful for Philadelphia employers and employment agencies to ask about an applicant’s wage and benefit history or to rely on such applicant’s wage history to determine future wages. The law also prevents employers from retaliating against any candidate who fails to respond to any wage inquiry. The law takes effect on May 23, 2017, and aims to address historic wage gaps which affect women and minorities, by prohibiting employers from basing compensation on a candidate’s wages at a previous employer, given the historical pay inequities between men and women and minorities. In its “finding” sections, the new law provides statistical examples of wage disparities and encourages employers to set salary offers based on the job responsibilities of the position sought, rather than prior wages. Nothing in the law prohibits an applicant from disclosing voluntarily his or her compensation history. And, employers may still ask a candidate about his/her compensation expectations. The law also requires employers to post fair practices notices, which will be made available by the Commission. Employers should carefully review their...

NYS Department of Labor Proposed Overtime Rule 0

NYS Department of Labor Proposed Overtime Rule

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.

Federal Court Preliminarily Enjoins DOL From Enforcing Overtime Exemption Rules 0

Federal Court Preliminarily Enjoins DOL From Enforcing Overtime Exemption Rules

On November 22, 2016, in Nevada v. United States Department of Labor, et al., a judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) from implementing and enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act (“the FLSA”) final overtime rule that would otherwise become effective on December 1, 2016.

NYC Council Passes “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act 0

NYC Council Passes “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act

On October 27, 2016, The New York City Council unanimously passed a local law, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, aimed to enhance protections for freelancers and purportedly to prevent wage theft. Under the law, freelancers include individuals (and organizations having no more than one person) retained as an independent contractor to provide services in exchange for payment. The law, however, excludes from coverage sales representatives (as defined in section 191 of the New York Labor Law), persons engaged in the practice of law under the contract at issue (and who are members in good standing of a bar and not under any restrictions with respect to the practice of law), and licensed medical professionals. The law does not apply to the United States government, New York City, and New York State (and their respective offices, departments, agencies, authorities, etc.) any local government, municipality, or county, along with any foreign government.