Wage and Hour

Catching Up with the Times: DOL Issues Final Rule Simplifying Retail Exemption Under the FLSA

As we recently reported, the DOL promulgated three new final rules regarding wage and hour issues last month. One of these rules brings a much-needed dose of clarity for certain employers on an unusually thorny issue: what exactly is a “retail or service establishment” for purposes of the “retail exemption” under Section 7(i) of the FLSA? This section exempts certain commissioned employees in “retail or service establishments” from the FLSA’s overtime compensation requirement, but the list of qualified employers has been notoriously confusing and vague. Effective May 19, 2020, the DOL’s final rule nixed its almost half-century old catalog of qualifying establishments and adopted a new and uniform framework for determining eligibility for the exemption. READ MORE

DOL Issues New Rules to Try to Beat the Clock

In a possible attempt to implement new rules before they can be rescinded by a Democratic Congress and administration, the Department of Labor recently finalized regulations regarding wage and hour issues and the Labor Secretary’s power to review administrative decisions.  These administrative moves are the result of a little-known but important statute aimed at curbing midnight rulemaking by outgoing administrations.  The Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) establishes special congressional procedures for disapproving a broad range of regulatory rules issued by federal agencies.  By joint resolution, Congress can approve or disapprove of a regulation, which then goes to the President to sign or veto.  If Congress adjourns its annual session less than 60 “legislative days” in the House of Representatives or 60 “session days” in the Senate after a rule is submitted to it, the rule is carried over to the next session of Congress and subject to possible disapproval during that session. While it is difficult to calculate the CRA deadline—particularly given COVID-19’s impact on Congress’ schedule—if the Trump administration fails to finalize the rules before the CRA deadline and Republicans lose control of the White House and Senate, a Democratic-controlled Congress could successfully rescind the rules under the CRA. READ MORE

Six Degrees of Separation: Temperature Testing as Employees Return to Work

As states begin to reopen and employees return to the workplace, employers are faced with trying to protect workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Many employers are looking to temperature testing as a potential safeguard. Like many emerging safety measures, though, there are several considerations to weigh before implementing temperature testing: READ MORE

In Letter to Senators, DOL Clarifies Scope of the CARES Act’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program

On April 17, 2020, the Department of Labor’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Joe Wheeler responded by letter to Senator Ron Wyden and other Democratic lawmakers who had raised concerns about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’s (CARES Act) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Notably, the letter clarifies several eligibility criteria, including that self-employed gig economy workers and workers who cannot work because they have coronavirus symptoms and are seeking a diagnosis may receive federal unemployment assistance under the PUA program. READ MORE

A California Court of Appeal Tests the Limit Of “Unlimited” Vacation Policies

“Unlimited” vacation policies have become incredibly popular throughout California, particularly in the tech industry, as a means of offering greater flexibility to employees.  Under typical unlimited vacation policies, employees can take as much vacation as they like, subject to their manager’s approval.  Because employees do not accrue vacation under these policies, there is presumably no obligation for an employer to pay employees for any unused vacation upon their departure from the company, as required by Labor Code section 227.3. READ MORE

Preparing Coronavirus Workplace Safety Responses in APAC Countries

As the coronavirus, now officially named the “COVID-19 virus,” continues to spread across the world, employers are also looking to ensure a safe working environment for their employees. In addition to our previous perspectives for U.S. employers and EU employers, this updated overview provides employers in the rest of the Asia-Pacific (“APAC”) region with practical advice to develop their COVID-19 virus response strategy. Specifically, this overview covers the countries of: The People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. READ MORE

Ninth Circuit Issues A Second En Banc Decision Regarding Prior Salary Considerations In Rizo v. Yovino Re-Do

In yet another development in the closely watched case of Rizo v. Yovino, the en banc Ninth Circuit ruled that employers may not defeat a plaintiff’s prima facie case under the Equal Pay Act (EPA) by arguing prior pay is a “factor other than sex” within the meaning of the statute. By doing so, the Ninth Circuit reaches the same result as the previous opinion penned by the late Judge Stephen Reinhardt before his passing in 2018, including overruling Kouba v. Allstate, a prior Ninth Circuit opinion that held that prior pay could justify pay differentials in combination with other factors, and if relied upon reasonably and to effectuate a business policy. The majority opinion further holds that as a matter of statutory interpretation, a “factor other than sex” within the meaning of the EPA must be “job related,” yet it also makes clear that the EPA does not prohibit employers from considering prior pay in making starting pay offers (and in this regard differentiates the opinion from California’s salary history ban). Two separate concurring opinions agree with the result, but they criticize the majority opinion for giving too narrow a reading of the EPA’s fourth “catch all” defense and for embracing a view of prior pay that puts the Ninth Circuit at odds with other circuits and guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). READ MORE

New Year’s Resolutions: Cases To Watch For California Employers in 2020

With the new year comes the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, and the Ninth Circuit will issue a number of significant decisions spanning a range of topics in the employment arena.  In addition to the new California laws that have recently come into effect, covered here, California employers should watch these three litigation areas as well: READ MORE

New California Employment Laws for 2020

2020 is upon us, and with it, a slew of new employment laws that are now in effect. Read on for a description of 13 key employment laws every employer operating in California should know about going into 2020. For more information on these laws and advice regarding best practices, check out our California Employment Law Update Seminars taking place at our San Francisco office on January 9, 2020 and Silicon Valley office on January 22, 2020. READ MORE

Try To Restrain Yourself: California Is Temporarily Restrained From Enforcing Arbitration Ban

Remember California’s new ban on mandatory workplace arbitration agreements? The Eastern District of California has put it on ice, granting a temporary restraining order against the ban’s enforcement. As a refresher, and as we wrote about here, on October 10, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law California’s latest afront on workplace arbitration—AB 51. Under AB 51, employers may not, “as a condition of employment, continued employment, or the receipt of any employment-related benefit, require an applicant or employee to waive any right, forum, or procedure” for FEHA and Labor Code claims. Violations of the new statute carry hefty consequences, including criminal penalties. Many employers see arbitration agreements as necessary to manage employment disputes and an outright ban on this efficient process strongly affects their bottom line. The ban was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020, but the TRO put enforcement on hold for now. READ MORE