In the wake of Hurricane Irma, many employers have questioned their obligation to pay employees while their businesses have been closed. The answer will be different for employees who are exempt and non-exempt under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Under the FLSA, employees who are exempt from overtime requirements must receive their full

Many thanks to Arslan Sheikh for his assistance in preparing this post.

Last week, a federal judge in Texas struck down a proposed Obama-era rule that would have expanded the number of workers who qualify for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The proposed rule

In 2016, the Obama administration’s Department of Labor (DOL) planned to implement a new rule that would have more than doubled the minimum salary threshold for “exempt” status under the FLSA from $23,660 to $47,476 per year. Under the DOL’s proposed rule, an employee who made an annual salary below $47,476 would have been entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked beyond 40 a week. We last reported on the proposed salary increase in November of 2016, when federal court Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the DOL’s rule. Our blog post outlines the Texas court’s holding and rationale.

What happened this week?

On Aug. 31, Judge Mazzant issued another decision, striking down the Obama administration’s proposed salary threshold rule. As a result, the minimum salary for exempt status under the FLSA will remain, for the time being at least, at $23,600.

Judge Mazzant held that the DOL exceeded its authority by issuing the proposed rule because the department focused too heavily on employees’ salary-levels, rather than their job duties, to determine if they were exempt from overtime under the FLSA. Judge Mazzant struck down the rule, holding that because the DOL’s proposed rule would have doubled the annual salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476, it would have made salary-level the predominant factor in determining who is exempt from overtime under the FLSA. It should be noted, however, that Judge Mazzant did not rule on the general lawfulness of a salary-level test; he only evaluated the salary-level test the DOL proposed in this instance.
Continue Reading Texas district court strikes down Obama DOL’s proposed overtime rule

As of yesterday, employers who have not yet fully implemented changes in preparation for the new salary basis increase should put those plans on hold because a Texas federal court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the rule while it evaluates the legality of the rule. The salary required for exempt status for executive, administrative, and professional employees  (EAP or white collar employees) will remain at $23,660 or $455 per week. (Employees, of course, must meet the respective duties tests.) Any employers who had planned to raise exempt employees’ salaries to $47,476 or convert them to non-exempt status can place those plans on indefinite hold. We recognize, however, that it may be difficult and bad for employee relations to roll back already announced or implemented salary increases. Each employer should evaluate the financial and good will costs of rolling back salary increases made to comply with the new rule or keeping them in place.
Continue Reading Texas court enjoins new salary basis rule set to go into effect December 1st

Now that it is clear that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States, questions are continuously being asked about how the regime change when he takes office in January of 2017 will impact labor and employment law. Acknowledging that any discussion of Trump’s policies before he takes office on Jan. 20, 2017 is purely speculation, it is important for employers to consider the potential implications on labor and employment law.
Continue Reading November election results likely will significantly impact labor and employment law in coming years

A special thanks to Adam Bennett for his work on this article.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently released its final rule requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to provide their employees with at least seven days of paid sick leave each year. The final rules were published on Friday, Sept. 30 and will go into effect 60 days after publication (Nov. 29, 2016). Despite the “effective date,” the sick leave rule will only apply to federal contractors and subcontractors entering into new contracts where the solicitation was issued or the federal contract was awarded on or after Jan. 1, 2017.

The new rule further is limited to contracts or subcontracts that are:

  • Covered by the Service Contract Act or the Davis-Bacon Act
  • Concessions contracts
  • Service contracts in connection with federal property or lands


Continue Reading DOL releases final rules on paid sick leave for federal contractors

A divided Ohio Supreme Court held that Ohio’s minimum wage law exempts employees engaged in an executive, administrative or professional capacity, or as outside salespersons, summer camp employees, fishing employees, small publication employees and family farm employees. In Haight v. Minchak, No. 2016-Ohio-1053, two sales representatives challenged the constitutionality of Ohio’s minimum wage statute (R.C. 4111.14)—arguing that the definition of employee in R.C. 4111.14(B)(1) conflicts with the definition in the Ohio Constitution. The Court held that the definitions did not conflict.

John Haight and Christopher Pence were sales representatives for Cheap Escape Company. They were paid by commissions plus a draw. The Company stopped paying or reduced the draw when its sales representatives underperformed. The compensation the underperforming sales representatives received fell below Ohio’s minimum wage. Haight and Pence filed a class action lawsuit alleging that R.C. 4111.14 was unconstitutional and seeking unpaid wages.
Continue Reading Minimum wage exemptions upheld in Ohio Supreme Court case

It is not news that class action lawsuits for unpaid overtime are on the rise. A settlement agreement approved recently by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio shows just how costly those claims can be.

In Thorn v. Bob Evans Farms, Inc. the U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio approved a settlement between Bob Evans Farms, Inc. (BEF) and a class of 1,566 current and former assistant restaurant managers. The assistant managers had been treated by BEF as exempt from overtime requirements under federal and state law. In the class action lawsuit, the assistant managers argued that they had performed non-exempt duties, including operating cash registers, food preparation and clean-up to such an extent that they were not genuinely exempt from overtime pay requirements.
Continue Reading Assistant managers’ wage hour battle with Bob Evans Farms settled for $16.5 million

Think for a moment about all of the employment law obligations you face as a Human Resources professional or employment legal counsel. As extensive as those are, there is actually very little that you have to report to the federal or state government on a regular basis about your employment activity. You have very few obligations to report to the government on your personnel actions, including compensation – at least as of now. In fact, about the only obligation to report information to the federal government is the annual federal EEO-1 report, which must be filed by companies with 100 or more employees and by federal contractors with 50 or more employees. As you know, the federal EEO-1 currently requires only that you report the number of employees at each covered establishment and corporate-wide, by ten broadly defined job categories and broken down by race, gender, and ethnicity. If adopted, the EEOC’s recently-announced proposed wage reporting rules will require that compensation data be added to the EEO-1 report. In addition to the administrative burden this will cause, employers have real concerns about the ways in which the EEOC promises to use the data.

Continue Reading EEOC proposed wage reporting rules: could be a major problem