Department of Labor

Pay Raises Across the Nation? Not So Fast Say Several States and Business Groups: 21 States and 55 Business Groups Challenge New Federal Overtime Rule


On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, twenty-one states filed a complaint in federal court in Texas challenging the new overtime rule finalized by the Department of Labor (“DOL”) in May of this year.  The States seek to prevent implementation of the new rule, which is scheduled to become effective on December 1, 2016.  That same day, fifty-five business groups, including several chambers of commerce, filed a similar lawsuit in Texas federal court to block the rule.


To Free or Not to Free: The DOL’s New Overtime Regulations May Give Employees the Ability to “Unplug”—But at What Cost?


Today, mobile technology allows many exempt employees to work remotely and perform work outside traditional working hours.  Some commentators assert that the smartphone has stretched the traditional 9-to-5 workday into a 24/7 on-call period, where employees are expected to respond to work-related communications long after they leave the office and late into the night.  The expectation that employees will be available to respond on evenings and weekends, however, has sparked pushback, causing some employees to call for more work-life separation and the ability to “unplug.”  In France, this push to unplug recently resulted in a new law that gives employees a “right to disconnect.”  Under that law, many French employers soon will be required to implement rules governing work-life balance and reasonable use of digital tools.


It’s All a Matter of Degree – Fourth Circuit Upholds Four-Year Front Pay Award and Tuition Reimbursement in SOX Case


*This post was drafted with contribution from Ashley Gambone, law clerk.

Affirming a SOX victory for an employee, the Fourth Circuit in a 2-1 decision in Gunther v. Deltek upheld a Department of Labor award of four-years of front pay to a former financial analyst of a software firm and also affirmed an award of tuition reimbursement for a four-year, full time, college degree program.  The Fourth Circuit’s Gunther decision discusses the standards for proving or disproving a causal connection in SOX cases, for meeting the after-acquired evidence standard to cut off damages, and for proving entitlement to front pay and other damages under SOX.


Digging Into the New Overtime Regulations


In 2015, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposed substantial changes to the minimum salary level requirements, sought input on whether bonuses and incentives should be included in meeting the salary level test and considered changing the duties test to establish overtime eligibility. Taken together, these proposed changes would have had a drastic effect on the obligation of employers to pay overtime. On May 18, 2016, DOL issued its Final Rules and employers have until December 1, 2016 to comply. Overall, the changes strike a middle ground as DOL declined to adopt the more restrictive California 50% duties test. However, doubling the salary level threshold and other changes present significant economic and compliance challenges for employers. Below is a summary of key takeaways and steps employers should consider to address these changes and ensure compliance.


Not So Fast: Administrative Review Board Vacates Discrimination Finding Sought by OFCCP


A recent decision from the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board serves as a warning to federal agencies against overreaching in their efforts to identify alleged employment discrimination.  It also serves to highlight the heavy burden that plaintiffs—whether government agencies or private litigants—must carry in cases alleging a pattern or practice of disparate treatment.


We Get Out Our Crystal Balls on the Imminent DOL Overtime Rules


The prognostication efforts are going into high gear as employers seek to forecast and prepare where the Department of Labor may land on its final overtime rules.  As with all rules in the post-comment phase, government officials have not given any indication on when the final rules will be published (and become effective) or what they will contain.  Our insight is the final rule will be published ahead of schedule before the July regulatory agenda date, perhaps as soon as later this month.  The Congressional Review Act deadlines (described here) strongly indicate that the DOL will seek to avoid the prospect of any effective congressional action on the final rules.  As to the final rule’s content, we believe that the Office of Management and Budget and DOL are taking into account the political winds and other considerations before making a final decision.  Once published, however, the DOL can set the effective dates as early as 60 days which would give employers a very difficult compliance burden.


DOL and EEOC to Make 2016 A Challenging Year for Employers


Members of the Fair Labor Standards Legislation Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Labor and Employment Law recently met.  The meeting includes employer and employee advocates, as well as government officials.  The meeting often highlights not only the present status of regulations, policy and pending litigation but also provides a window into coming trends that may be important for employers.  We highlight a few takeaways.


One Step Closer to Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors


The Department of Labor (“DOL”) continues its regulatory dash to fulfill the President’s domestic agenda.  The agency issued proposed rules, that seek to make President Obama’s Executive Order 13706, Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors signed on September 7, 2015, into a reality.  The DOL solicits any comments on the proposed rules on or before March 28, 2016.  Once effective, employees of certain federal contractors would be entitled to paid leave akin to the leave now in place in 4 states, the District of Columbia, and 27 other localities that are entitled to paid sick leave.


Not So Final WARNing: Sixth Circuit Finds That Employment Ends with Termination of Wages, Not Notice


In Morton v. Vanderbilt Univ., 2016 WL 52439 (6th Cir. Jan. 5, 2016), the Sixth Circuit recently held that, for purposes of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN Act”), employment does not end at notice of termination, but rather the employment relationship continues as long as the employee continues to be paid wages and accrue benefits.


Minimum Wage, Maximum Headache: California’s Minimum Wage Hits $10 in 2016. Are You Prepared?


As you brace for the New Year, don’t forget that California’s minimum wage will reach $10 per hour on January 1, 2016.  This latest increase is the final stage of the two-step legislation that increased the minimum wage from $8 to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014, and now to $10 per hour effective January 1, 2016.