Federal law, as well as many state and local laws, require employers to display notices and posters in the workplace advising employees of their rights.  With many employers operating remotely due to COVID-19, however, questions regarding these statutory posting requirements have arisen.  In response, on December 29, 2020, the United States Department of Labor released guidance addressing the permissibility of providing the required postings through electronic means.

By way of background, no less than 15 federal laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, require employers to display notices or posters in the workplace advising workers of their rights under such laws.  Generally speaking, the notices or posters must be physically displayed in a conspicuous location that can be easily accessed by all employees (break rooms and cafeterias, for instance, are common locations for this).
Continue Reading Pandemic or not, employers must still comply with notice-posting requirements under federal law

**Please note this blog has been updated as of January 25, 2021. Read our update here.

Beginning November 20, 2020, President Trump’s Executive Order 13950 On Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping (“EO 13950” or “The Order”) will fundamentally reshape the way government contractors conduct diversity training.  Signed September 22, 2020, the Order prohibits federal workplace trainings that “promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating.” Importantly for private employers, federal contractors also “will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees.” On October 7, 2020, the Department of Labor issued guidance in the form of “frequently asked questions” regarding EO 13950.
Continue Reading Executive Order 13950 on diversity training: Hidden traps for employers

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempts employees with certain executive, administrative, or professional job duties from the requirement that they receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Determining whether one or more of these “white collar” exemptions apply to a particular employee requires a fact-intensive analysis of the employee’s job duties. But there is another, sometimes overlooked, requirement: the employee must be compensated on a “salary basis” at a rate of not less than $684 per week. 29 C.F.R. § 541.600(a). An employee is paid on a salary basis if the employee regularly receives, on a weekly or less frequent basis, a predetermined amount which “is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.602(a). Employers who make improper deductions from their employees’ salaries will lose the ability to claim that the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions apply if the facts demonstrate that they did not pay the employee on a salary basis. 29 C.F.R. § 541.603.

There has been a substantial amount of litigation regarding the types and frequency of deductions from an otherwise exempt employee’s salary that will cause an employer to lose the ability to claim that the white collar exemptions apply. One area of contention has been whether an employer’s policy stating that it will make improper deductions from an employee’s salary is sufficient to defeat exempt status, or whether there must be an actual practice of making such deductions for the employer to lose the exemption. Previously, courts followed the Secretary of Labor’s view that, if an employer’s policy created a “significant likelihood” of improper salary deductions, this could result in a loss of exempt status. Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997). But the Department of Labor has since promulgated regulations stating that the focus is on “an actual practice of making improper deductions.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.603.
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit clarifies when improper pay deductions make an employee ineligible for exemptions from overtime under the FLSA

This is the second installment of our two-part blog series on recent wage-related changes to New York state law. In part one, we covered the expanded definition of retaliation under the New York Labor Law. Today, we will discuss a bill that permits employees to place wage liens on their employer’s property.

Employees in New York have long been able to seek recourse for wage claims through litigation in federal and state court, as well as through the federal and state Departments of Labor. Under this new legislation, employees will also be able to place a lien on an employer’s real or personal property for the value of an alleged wage claim and related liquidated damages. A “wage claim” under the bill includes federal and state claims related to minimum wage, overtime, spread of hours, unlawful deductions, withheld gratuities, improper tip and meal credits, and compensation under employment agreements. Employees of all classifications and pay rates will be able to obtain wage liens within three years after their employment ends.Continue Reading New York Continues Expansion of Worker Wage Protections (Part 2)