The time warehouse workers spent waiting to undergo and undergoing antitheft security screenings before leaving work is not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et. seq., as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947, §251 et. seq. (Portal-to-Portal Act), according to the United States Supreme Court, which unanimously decided Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk on December 9, 2014.
Effective January 1, 2015, the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime exemption for “domestic service workers” will change, having significant ramifications for employers of these employees. Until this change, domestic service workers generally have been exempt from overtime compensation, which means they need not be paid at the rate of time and a half for hours worked in excess of 40 per workweek. The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a Fact Sheet to summarize the changes.
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.
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.
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.
Third Circuit Opens the Door for “Hybrid” Wage & Hour Claims in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
On March 27, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a precedential decision in Knepper v. Rite Aid Corp. which dramatically alters the landscape for wage and hour litigation for employers operating in the jurisdictions within the Third Circuit, i.e., in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Specifically, the Third Circuit ruled that the procedures for litigating a class action alleging state wage and hour violations is not “inherently incompatible” with the procedures for litigating a collective action under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). As a result, courts in these jurisdictions may well see a wave of hybrid class/collective actions alleging wage and hour violations under both the FLSA and the corresponding state wage and hour laws in the same complaint.
Effective February 21, 2012, the inside salesperson exemption was re-adopted by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) as part of the Administrative Exemption contained in New Jersey’s wage and hour laws. When the 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”) in September 2011, it eliminated this long-recognized exemption. As we previously reported, the NJDOL later admitted that the elimination of this exemption was inadvertent and proposed regulations to reinstate it.
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.