On April 23, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final regulatory rule that will raise the minimum salary threshold for employees who are classified as “exempt” under the white-collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in two steps: first in July 1, 2024, and then again in January 1, 2025. The new rule also creates a mechanism for subsequent automatic increases every three years thereafter based on then-current economic data, with the next increase slated for July 1, 2027. 

This new rule comes after the DOL proposed these changes last year in August 2023. Under the FLSA and DOL regulations, for an employee to be properly classified as “exempt” from overtime, the employee must be paid at least the minimum salary threshold and the employee’s job position must also meet certain tests regarding their job duties (namely exemptions for job duties performed by executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees, commonly referred to as the “white collar” exemptions).

Continue Reading U.S. Department of Labor mandates two salary threshold increases for white collar FLSA exemptions and a mechanism for future automatic increases

As we discussed in an October 2021 article regarding the future of restrictive covenant agreements in the U.S., President Biden in July 2021 directed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to explore potential ways to limit the use of non-compete agreements. In January 2023, the FTC followed through on the President’s directive by proposing a regulatory rule that would effectively ban such agreements.

And on Tuesday afternoon, more than 15 months after publishing the proposed rule and after receiving more than 26,000 public comments on the January 2023 proposal, the FTC at long last unveiled and approved its final non-compete rule (the final rule) in a party line 3-2 vote.

Continue Reading BREAKING: FTC bans virtually all existing and future U.S. non-compete agreements

On Wednesday April 17, 2024, the US Supreme Court in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis, Missouri, et al. issued a precedential ruling that will likely pave the way for more employee discrimination claims under Title VII. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Title VII prohibits discriminatory job transfers even if they do not result in a “materially significant disadvantage” to the employee. The Court clarified that an employee challenging a job transfer under Title VII must establish “some harm” with respect to the terms and conditions of employment, but that such harm “need not be significant.”

Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court clarifies standard for job transfer discrimination under Title VII

On April 15, 2024, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final rule implementing the federal Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA, which went into effect in June 2023,1 requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ known limitations relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical protections. The PFWA builds on existing pregnancy-related protections and employer obligations under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and many state and local laws.

Continue Reading EEOC issues final rule on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

As of March 12, 2024, New York employers are prohibited from requesting or obtaining access to the personal social media accounts of employees and applicants. Specifically, employers are not permitted to require employees or applicants to: (i) disclose their user names, passwords, or log-in information, (ii) access personal accounts in the presence of the employer; or (iii) reproduce any posts, including photos and videos, from personal accounts. In addition, employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee or applicant because of their refusal to disclose such information. 

Continue Reading New York places limitations on employer access to employee social media

On February 27, 2024, U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division blocked enforcement of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) against the state of Texas and its divisions and agencies, finding passage of the PWFA violated the U.S. Constitution’s quorum requirement. Below we discuss the terms of the PWFA, its enactment, and the subsequent legal challenge.

Continue Reading Texas federal court blocks enforcement of Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

If an employment relationship is to be terminated unilaterally, employers in Germany often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. The protection against Unfair Dismissal Act (Kündigungsschutzgesetz, KSchG), if applicable, sets high thresholds for validly terminating an employment relationship. Due to this, if a notice of termination is issued by the employer, employees in most cases file a claim for protection against unfair dismissal with German labour courts. As German labour courts can only decide whether an issued notice of termination is valid or invalid, a successful claim for protection against unfair dismissal means that the employee is reinstated into the employment relationship. In this case, the employee is generally entitled to backpay of the contractual compensation from the end of the notice period to the close of the court proceeding.

The financial risk for employers therefore increases with the length of the litigation. A typical proceeding in first instance takes between six to nine months and possibly longer. A subsequent proceeding in second instance can take additional six months or more. In some (luckily rare) instances legal proceedings can take several years. Depending on the salary of the employee in question, the financial exposure can easily reach six-figure amounts, not including the legal fees.

Continue Reading Between a rock and a hard place – not so much anymore?

In the dynamic arena of labor laws and regulations, New York City is once again leading the charge with proposed changes that could have profound workplace implications. On February 28, 2024, the New York City Council introduced a trio of bills aimed at significantly curtailing the use of noncompete agreements in the Big Apple. Though these bills are currently pending, and it remains to be seen whether they will ultimately be enacted, employers should nevertheless take note of the bills given that they are part of a broader movement to rein in noncompete agreements across the U.S.:

Continue Reading NYC legislators propose three bills to curtail noncompete agreements

California’s new law that creates a separate minimum wage applicable only to fast food restaurant employees took effect on April 1, 2024. Under Labor Code Section 1475 (LC 1475), this minimum wage is $20 per hour. It represents a significant increase from the current statewide minimum wage of $16 that went into effect at the beginning of the year. Many local jurisdictions within the state already have a minimum wage above $16 per hour, but none as high as $20 per hour. 

Continue Reading California’s new minimum wage for fast food restaurants took effect this month

Widely known as “Ban the Box” laws, California is among the many jurisdictions that have adopted laws limiting the use of criminal background checks in evaluating job candidates. Enacted in 2018, California’s Fair Chance Act generally prohibits employers, with five or more employees, from asking a job candidate about their conviction history before making a conditional job offer. Among other requirements, the Fair Chance Act also places an affirmative duty on employers to provide requisite notices to candidates and to evaluate several factors before withdrawing a job offer due to a candidate’s criminal history. Employers must also provide candidates with the opportunity to explain or provide mitigating information before making a final decision to rescind a job offer. In October 2023, California amended the Fair Chance Act to bolster these notice and evaluation requirements. The 2023 amendment also increased potential employer liability for failure to properly notify and evaluate a job candidate’s criminal history. Proposed legislation in California aims to place stringent requirements on when employers can request a criminal background check in the first instance and how the information obtained must be evaluated. 

Continue Reading Proposed California legislation may effectively ban criminal background checks