EEOC Ratchets Up Focus On Retaliation: EEOC Publishes First New Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation In Nearly Two Decades

The EEOC seeks public comment on its new Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues, which will supersede the agency’s last-issued guidance on the topic from 1998.  The updated guidance addresses several significant rulings by the Supreme Court and lower courts from the past two decades.  The guidance was also informed by public input on retaliation and best practices that the Commission gathered from its June 17, 2015 meeting on “Retaliation in the Workplace:  Causes, Remedies, and Strategies for Prevention.”  The 30-day input period on the guidance ends on February 24, 2016.

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DOL Continues to Push Its Agenda with New Guidance on Joint Employment

Solicitor of Labor Patricia Smith likes to quip that the Department is “working overtime on overtime.”  DOL took a break from the much-anticipated overtime regulations and issued new guidance yesterday on the question of who qualifies as a “joint employer” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).  The guidance (Administrator’s Interpretation (AI) No. 2016-1) issued by Wage and Hour Division (WHD) Administrator Dr. David Weil, sets forth a broad (and sometimes ambiguous) reading of statutory provisions, regulations, and case law to address joint employment issues under the two statutes.  The guidance was not unexpected as some advocates have been asking for the DOL’s position on joint employment since the NLRB’s expansion of joint employment in Browning-Ferris, 362 NLRB No. 186 (Aug. 27, 2015).  Notably, the level of coordination between DOL and the NLRB on joint employment issues has been the subject of Congressional oversight and the oversight committee now claims that DOL provided suspect responses to members of Congress regarding interactions between the agencies on the issue

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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.

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DOL’s Aggressive Regulatory Agenda Continues

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) role as a strong player in the Obama Administration’s domestic agenda shows no signs of letting up. DOL is poised to finalize big changes in the federal contracting and wage and hour spaces. Employers should be ready to meet the compliance challenges associated with these new obligations.

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Please Pass the Settlement: Second Circuit Widens Split Over Stipulated FLSA Dismissals

A recently filed petition for certiorari asks the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify the procedural requirements for ending private causes of action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  Specifically, petitioner Dorian Cheeks is asking the Supreme Court to review a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holding that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41 (“FRCP 41”) prohibits the dismissal of FLSA claims through private, stipulated settlement agreements absent approval from either a federal district court or the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”).

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Think Your Workers are Independent Contractors? Not So Fast Says the DOL

On July 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued an Administrator’s Interpretation that purports to clarify on one of the most challenging legal questions facing employers today:  are certain workers employees or independent contractors?  Notably absent from the guidance, however, is any specific reference to workers who provide services through “on-demand” companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb who use technology to deliver traditional services more efficiently by connecting consumers directly with service providers.  This is surprising since it seems that the DOL’s renewed focus on misclassification has stemmed in large part from the slew of pending on-demand worker lawsuits in which the classification tests have proven very difficult to apply.

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To Pay or Not To Pay: The Second Circuit Rules on Unpaid Interns

In addressing a matter of first impression, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals set out a new standard to determine when an unpaid intern is deemed an employee for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and thus entitled to compensation, including minimum wage and overtime, under the FLSA.  Two appeals were argued in tandem on this issue with the Second Circuit issuing an Opinion on July 2, 2015 in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., and a Summary Order in Wang v. Hearst Corp.

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Class Action Lawsuits: In Vogue? High Fashion Gets Hit with Wage and Hour Class Action Lawsuits over Unpaid Internship Programs

Sportswear-inspired designs, bold prints, and gingham aren’t the only things trending for Spring 2015 in the fashion world.  Judging from a recent wave of lawsuits, wage and hour class actions are trending as well. Over the past few years, class action lawsuits over unpaid internships have been on the rise, with this most recent wave of filed lawsuits serving as a powerful reminder to employers that intern programs can’t simply be viewed as a way to recruit free labor.

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U.S. Department of Labor Advances Regulatory Agenda with Final Rule Barring Federal Contractors from Discriminating against LGBT Workers

On December 3, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its final rule barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The final rule implements an Executive Order signed by President Obama in July 2014 amending Executive Order 11,246 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases of employment discrimination by federal contractors and subcontractors.

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Let’s Talk About Sex: U.S. Department of Labor Targets Transgender & Gender Identity Discrimination

On Tuesday, August 19, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a directive to “clarify that existing agency guidance on discrimination on the basis of sex . . . includes discrimination on the bases of gender identity and transgender status.”  This directive follows President Obama’s Executive Order 13672, issued on July 21, 2014, amending existing orders to specifically prohibit federal contractors from discriminating based on gender identity.

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