Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Revokes Obama-Era DOL Joint Employer and Independent Contractor Guidance
By Philippe A. Lebel
On June 7, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is withdrawing two major pieces of informal guidance issued during the Obama administration, pertaining to joint employment and independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.
The two Administrator Interpretations Letters were issued by the former head of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, David Weil. The first guidance letter, Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2015-1, took an aggressive position regarding misclassification of employees as independent contractors. It stressed that the “economic realities” of worker-employer relationships were paramount—i.e., whether, as a matter of economic reality, a worker was dependent on the putative employer—and suggested that most workers should be classified as employees. Although it relied on case law, the Administrator Letter provided additional refinements and, … Read More »
By Cheryl D. Orr and Ramon A. Miyar
A federal district court in Texas has issued a permanent injunction blocking implementation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) controversial “Persuader Rule,” which was promulgated under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (“LMRDA”).
The LMRDA imposes public reporting obligations on employers and consultants who enter into agreements to persuade or influence employees’ exercise of their collective bargaining rights. For more than 50 years, the DOL interpreted the LMRDA’s “Advice Exemption” as exempting from the statute’s onerous reporting requirements indirect “persuader activities” by labor relations consultants, including attorneys. The DOL’s Persuader Rule, however, which took effect on April 25, 2016, removed indirect persuader activities from its definition of exempt advice, thus subjecting confidential attorney-client communications and agreements to the LMRDA’s public reporting requirements.
Following the publication of the Persuader Rule on March … Read More »
By Mark E. Terman and Gerald T. Hathaway
A federal court issued a national preliminary injunction prohibiting the Department of Labor’s new salary rule for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees from taking effect. The final rule, published on May 23, 2016 would have gone into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. We wrote about this previously and at this time, recommend that employers suspend, but not cancel their implementation plans.
The rule mandated that employees falling under the executive, administrative or professional exemptions must earn at least $913 per week ($47,476 annually), which would more than double the currently existing minimum salary level of $455 per week. In State of Nevada v. U.S. Dep’t of Labor, No. 4:16-cv-731 (E.D. Tex. filed November 22, 2016) District Court Judge Amos L. Mazzant III (appointed by President Obama) ruled that the Department of … Read More »
By Mark E. Terman and Gerald T. Hathaway
Since our November 10 Post, Will the DOL Exemption Rules Be Enjoined Before December 1, 2016?, federal District Court Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III heard nearly 3.5 hours of argument today on the Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction to stop nationwide implementation of the Department of Labor’s May 16, 2016 Final Rule Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees. If not enjoined, this Final Rule will require that, by December 1, 2016, employees be paid a weekly salary of at least $913 (annually, $47,476) to maintain “white collar” exemption from overtime and other federal Fair Labor Standards Act requirements, as long as the employees’ duties satisfy the exemption rules too.
The Court took the matter under advisement, projected that a ruling will be issued Tuesday, November 22, … Read More »
By Mark Terman and Gerald T. Hathaway
The Department of Labor’s May 16, 2016 Final Rule Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees require that, by December 1, 2016, employees must be paid a weekly salary of at least $913 (annually, $47,476) to maintain “white collar” exemption from overtime and other federal Fair Labor Standards Act requirements, as long as the employees’ duties satisfy the exemption rules too. We wrote about this previously.
Last month, twenty-one states, led by Nevada and Texas, filed an emergency motion to enjoin implementation of the Final Rule in a federal court action commenced the month before. State of Nevada, et al. v. DOL (USDC, Eastern District of Texas, case No., 4:16-cv-00731-ALM). At its core, the action challenges DOL authority to increase the salary threshold and set automatic increases, and … Read More »
By William R. Horwitz
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a significant decision last week addressing the compensation of tipped employees who perform non-tipped work. In Schaefer v. Walker Bros. Enterprises, 2016 WL 3874171 (7th Cir. July 15, 2016), a restaurant server in Illinois pursued a class and collective action alleging, among other things, that his employer violated state and federal wage and hour laws by failing to pay servers minimum wage for the time they spent on non-tipped duties. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment dismissal of the lawsuit. The Court held that an employer may compensate a tipped employee at the reduced “tip credit rate” of pay for: (1) limited non-tipped work incidental or related to tipped work; and (2) other negligible non-tipped work. The decision provides helpful guidance to restaurant employers regarding the types of duties … Read More »
By Stephanie Dodge Gournis, Gerald Hathaway, and Mark Foley
On June 27, 2016, a Texas federal court granted a preliminary injunction preventing the Department of Labor (DOL) from moving forward on a nationwide basis with the July 1st enforcement of its Final Rule Interpretation of the “Advice” Exemption to Section 203(c) of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) (also known as the DOL’s “Persuader Rule”). The court order was based on findings that plaintiffs in the case of National Federation of Independent Business, et al. v. Perez, 5:16-cv-00066-C, were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims in establishing that the DOL’s Persuader Rule is inconsistent with federal law and exceeds the DOL’s statutory authority.
The LMRDA requires employers and labor relations consultants (including attorneys) to report certain agreements and arrangements (and payments made pursuant to such agreements/arrangements) under … Read More »
By Stephanie Dodge Gournis, Dennis M. Mulgrew, Jr. and Shavaun Adams Taylor
Making good on a 2014 directive from President Obama “to modernize and streamline” existing overtime regulations, the Department of Labor (DOL) today published its highly anticipated Final Rule Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees. As expected, the Final Rule (which becomes effective December 1, 2016 ) more than doubles the current $455 weekly minimum salary required for employees to qualify for “white collar” exemptions to the minimum wage and overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The DOL expects its new Final Rule to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to more than 4.2 million Americans and increase employee wages by $12 billion over the next 10 years.
Key Changes under the DOL’s Final Rule
The FLSA requires that … Read More »
By Lynne Anderson
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a proposed rule that requires federal contractors and subcontractors to provide workers with seven days of paid sick leave on an annual basis. The proposed rule, released on Feb. 25, was created in response to President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13706, which directed the DOL to issue and finalize regulations this year.
The proposed rule is projected to extend paid sick leave to more than 800,000 employees, 400,000 of which don’t currently receive any paid sick leave, within a five-year period, according to DOL estimates.
Although the DOL has extended the comments period on the proposed rule through April 12, employers and human resources professionals should start preparing for implementation. Here are three things companies can do to prepare:
1. Review and revise policies
HR professionals should compare their employer’s existing policies with the … Read More »
In FLSA Settlements, the Permissible Scope of Releases and Confidentiality Provisions May Be Broader Than You Think
By William R. Horwitz
Courts and the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) often refuse to approve Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) settlements: (1) in which the employee’s release of claims is not narrowly limited to wage claims; or (2) that seek to restrict public disclosure of the settlement terms. Because FLSA settlements are arguably only enforceable if approved by a court or the DOL, these conditions sometimes impede the ability of parties to resolve FLSA disputes. A recent court decision may offer a solution. In Lola v. Skadden, Arps, Meagher, Slate & Flom LLP, 2016 BL 29709 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 3, 2016), the Honorable Richard J. Sullivan, U.S.D.J., allowed the parties more leeway in resolving FLSA claims, adopting an approach likely to facilitate settlements.
Plaintiff David Lola, an attorney, worked for a staffing agency that placed him at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, … Read More »