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New York Federal Court Finds Business Properly Classified Translators As Independent Contractors

This month, two New York federal judges reviewing a claim of misclassification rejected a claim for overtime compensation, agreeing that a business properly classified two translators as independent contractors rather than as “employees” under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. See Mateo v. Universal Language Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS … Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Rejects Airline Deregulation Act Preemption Challenge To Living Wage Ordinance

Courts continue to wrestle with preemption issues, the tension between sweeping federal laws purporting to regulate an industry or industries and laws enacted at the local level, such as labor laws impacting labor costs. In the most recent example, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected a cargo airline’s argument that the Airline … Continue Reading

Uber Litigation Continues To Serve As Legal Lightning Rod for “On Demand” Economy

Cases challenging the independent contractor status of certain service providers under the wage-and-hour laws are likely to continue in the near future due to the difficulties in applying the law to complex factual patterns. The Department of Labor recently provided additional guidance for determining contractor status in the form of an Administrator’s Interpretation (and the … Continue Reading

NY Commissioner of Labor Adopts Fast Food Wage Board Report

Today, Acting Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino adopted the Fast Food Wage Board’s July recommendations, in an Order available here.  The Order takes effect within thirty days of its publication in ten New York newspapers.  Employers covered – or arguably covered – by the definition of “Fast Food Establishment” contained in the Wage Board’s recommendations … Continue Reading

Second Circuit: $350/Hour Sufficient Fee For Plaintiffs’ Counsel in FLSA Cases

One common impediment to resolution of FLSA claims is the amount of attorneys’ fees sought by the claimant’s attorney. One important factor in assessing an appropriate fee is the rate likely to be awarded by the Court should Plaintiff prevail in that jurisdiction. A new appeals court decision approves fixing that rate at $350/hour for … Continue Reading

The Confusing Array of Wage Hour Developments Impacting New York State Employers’ Wage and Hour Compliance

In prior posts, we have summarized the New York State Department of Labor’s most recent rulemaking processes, comprised of two separate wage boards. The first, in 2014, addressed the hospitality industry as a whole, while more recently, in 2015, another highly publicized wage board addressed the subset of that industry deemed “fast food.” Employers should … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Finds That Insurance Claims Adjusters Are Exempt Administrative Employees Under California Law

Applying California’s administrative exemption test, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently concluded an insurance company properly classified its claims adjusters (who handled and processed disability claims) as exempt from the overtime provisions of the California Labor Code, notwithstanding the clerical duties the adjusters performed and their characterization of their work as … Continue Reading

New York’s Fast Food Wage Board Confirms: $15/Hour

In a televised meeting this afternoon, New York’s recently-convened Fast Food Wage Board confirmed industry employers’ fears and announced its unanimous recommendation that the wage for “fast food employees” in “fast food establishments” be increased to $15/hour by December 31, 2018 in New York City and by July 1, 2021 in the rest of New … Continue Reading

Washington’s Highest Court Rules Piece Rate Compensation Does Not Satisfy Rest Break Pay Requirement

Like all compensation methods, piece rate compensation plans – under which an employee is compensated based on the number of “pieces” he or she generates or completes – must be analyzed for wage-and-hour compliance. For example, under federal law, minimum wage generally is due for all hours worked, and there are recordkeeping obligations, although some … Continue Reading

Commissioned Sales Employee Not Entitled To Commission Payment Under The Plain Language Of Incentive Compensation Plan

This blog has stressed (most recently here and here) the importance of carefully drafting incentive compensations plans to avoid unintentionally converting incentive compensation into earned “wages” protected under state law.   Another recent decision, this one from the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reinforces the employer benefits of careful drafting. Lawson v. Sun Microsystems, … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Holds “Primary Beneficiary” Test Is Standard To Determine Employee Status Of Unpaid Interns; Likely Dooms Any Unpaid Intern Class and Collective Actions

The Second Circuit today issued two eagerly anticipated decisions addressing the standard that should be applied to determine whether unpaid interns at a for-profit employer are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) entitled to compensation for services provided. Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., Nos. 13-4478-cv, 13-4481-cv (2d Cir. July 2, 2015); Wang … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Affirms Tennis Umpires Properly Classified as Independent Contractors

The Second Circuit recently held that the United States Tennis Association properly classified tennis umpires who handled the U.S. Open as independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. In doing so, the court rejected the umpires’ claims for alleged unpaid overtime, as such laws do not apply to … Continue Reading

Manhattan Federal Court: Financial Firm Retained Discretion to Award or Not Award Bonus

As we recently noted in our discussion of Massachusetts law, incentive compensation has the potential to become “wages” protected by state labor law once it is “earned.” However, when an employer conveys to the employee that it retains discretion to award or not award incentive compensation in any specific amount, such potential incentive compensation (whether … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Federal Court: Discretionary Bonus Not “Earned” Commission Protected by Massachusetts Minimum Wage Act

An employee’s entitlement to incentive compensation continues to be a litigation issue. Recently, a Massachusetts federal district court held that an employer’s refusal to award an employee a discretionary bonus does not violate the Massachusetts Wage Act. Comley v. Media Planning Grp., No. 14-10032, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76383 (D. Mass. June 12, 2015). In … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Supreme Court: Real Estate Brokers Not Covered by 2004 Independent Contractor Law Based On Continued Applicability of Real Estate Statute

Litigation regarding the status of workers as independent contractors or employees continues to be a hotbed of litigation. This is true even in industries that have long-considered workers as independent contractors, such as real estate agents. Attorneys representing workers, for example, have turned to state statutes addressing independent contractor status to attempt to upset these … Continue Reading

Minimum Wage Increases – Another Challenge For National Employers and Unintended Consequences For the Public

As with the recent uptick in state and municipal paid leave laws, employers in multiple jurisdictions now find themselves faced with a similar national bandwagon in favor of increased state and municipal minimum wage requirements, highlighted by the Los Angeles City Council’s recent decision to ratify a proposal moving that City’s minimum wage to $15 … Continue Reading

New York Introduces Regulations Concerning Use of Payroll Debit Cards

Like many states before it, New York today published new proposed regulations to provide “clarification and specification as to the permissible methods of payment [in New York], including [the use of] payroll debit cards.”  The proposed regulations require voluntary consent from employees paid pursuant to such a program, and set minimum program requirements for feeless … Continue Reading

New York “Fast Food Wage Board” Formally Convened

Responding to the Governor’s directive, Acting State Labor Commission Mario J. Musolino has empaneled a Wage Board to recommend a minimum wage increase for the fast food industry. Commissioner Musolino issued a determination regarding the inadequacy of the current minimum wage which states, “I am of the opinion that a substantial number of fast food … Continue Reading

Governor Cuomo Announces Wage Board to Review “Fast-Food Industry” Minimum Wage

In an op/ed piece appearing in yesterday’s New York Times, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would direct the Commissioner of Labor to convene a new Wage Board “to examine the minimum wage in the fast-food industry” in New York state. The Commissioner’s announcement follows on the heels of a separate op/ed suggesting this … Continue Reading

Indiana Appeals Court Declines to Adjudicate Pastor’s Claim For Unpaid Vacation, Citing Ministerial Exception

Courts adjudicating employment disputes under employment statutes will decline to do so where inquiry into the employment relationship will interfere with First Amendment religious protections. Often, this concerns a claim challenging the legality of termination of a member of the clergy, but the concept can also extend to such employees’ claims under wage-and-hour laws, as … Continue Reading

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rejects Claim That Union Could Not Waive Paid Meal Period Rights On Behalf of Members

Unionized employers often enter into agreements with employees regarding compensation for particular hours or break periods. These agreements are reached through bargaining for the mutual benefit of the employer and union members. At times, such agreements can potentially be in tension with Department of Labor regulations regarding hours of work and break periods. The Wisconsin … Continue Reading

Consistent With Recent Decisions, Maryland Judge Finds Vocational School Students Not FLSA “Employees”

Like interns, vocational students often provide some degree of service as part of their vocational program. For this reason, such arrangements are susceptible to the allegation that these services are compensable “work time” under the FLSA. While such allegations have been made in some recent cases, in the first handful of these to reach decision, … Continue Reading

Trenton Sick Leave Law Withstands Judicial Challenge; Philadelphia Sick Leave Law May Become Preempted

Trenton, New Jersey, like numerous other municipalities (especially in New Jersey), recently enacted its own paid sick leave law. As with Seattle’s recent minimum wage rulemaking, a coalition of New Jersey business groups challenged the city’s authority to do so, urging that the ordinance exceeded the city’s police powers and offended constitutional protections. New Jersey … Continue Reading

Illinois Federal Judge: Employer Free to Modify Terms of Vacation Policy Under Illinois Wage Law

In most states, private non-unionized employers are free to provide vacation and other benefits as they see fit (subject to evolving state and municipal requirements such as New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act), but must ensure any policy language complies with applicable state law and that any policy changes due not result in forfeiture … Continue Reading