Employers in California now have long-overdue clarity about when their employee schedules comply with California law.

The California Supreme Court last Monday handed down a unanimous opinion, Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc., that clarifies the meaning of California’s “day of rest” statutes. These statutes make it illegal for an employer to “cause” an employee to work “more than six days in seven,” unless “the total hours of employment do not exceed . . . six hours in any one day thereof.”
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In this 20-minute podcast, Hank Sledz and Lauren Novak discuss Congress’ push to allow private companies to offer comp time in lieu of paying time-and-a-half for overtime under the Working Families Flexibility Act, how employer-friendly the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Department of Labor will be under new leadership, and other important changes during

On Tuesday, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a decision enjoining the Department of Labor (DOL) from enforcing its new overtime rule. State of Nevada et al. v. U.S. Department of Labor et al., case number 16-cv-00731. The new rule, which was announced in May 2016 and was set to become effective on December 1, 2016, sent employers scrambling to comply with a substantial increase to the minimum salary requirements for the white collar exemptions. In his decision, the judge held that the DOL had exceeded its authority in issuing the rule.
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Another federal court of appeals has weighed in on the question of whether requiring employees to waive the right to bring a class action against their employer in arbitration or court as a condition of employment violates employees’ rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
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Summer is almost here! With longer days and warmer nights on the horizon, many employers may be thinking about offering shortened or altered work weeks to their employees.  Such arrangements can boost employee morale, improve productivity and efficiency, and create an attractive recruiting tool.

A variety of approaches are available to employers interested in implementing a summer hours or flexible work schedule. For example, some employers compress the work week into four days, granting Fridays off; some allow employees to leave work early on certain days without making up the time; and others require employees to report to work earlier than normal, but permit them to leave early or take Friday afternoons off. While choosing which type of summer policy is right for your employees is important, it is also important to keep in mind the legal impact of such decisions.
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In a decision that creates a split with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the 7th Circuit on May 26, 2016 adopted the National Labor Relations Board’s D.R. Horton rationale and held that a condition of employment requiring employees to waive the right to bring class or collective actions either in arbitration or in judicial forums runs afoul of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, and is unenforceable as illegal.  Lewis v. Epic Systems Corporation, No.15-2997 (7th Cir. 2016).
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If you read most any national news feed this week you are likely to come across the federal government’s unveiling of the U.S. Department of Labor’s final overtime rule (the Final Rule), which approximately doubles the salary basis test for employees to be eligible for the overtime exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Final Rule, which will become effective on December 1, 2016, will mean big changes for the way many employers structure personnel and compensation. It is not too late, and certainly not too soon, for employers to start preparing for the increased salary test to take effect.
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The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of statistical sampling evidence to establish liability and damages in a “donning and doffing” overtime class action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage law. Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, No. 14-1146, 2016 WL 1092414 (U.S. Mar. 22, 2016).

Business groups had urged the Court to prohibit the use of statistical or “representative” evidence in class actions, arguing that a “trial by formula” ignores differences among individual class members and violates a defendant’s due process right to litigate defenses to individual claims.
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March inevitably brings the “madness” associated with the NCAA basketball tournament and office betting pools. Sports gambling is illegal in almost every state, and the NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering. The American Gaming Association estimated that $9 billion dollars was wagered illegally on the tournament last year alone, and office pools routinely contribute to that annual total. Still, it is a thinly-veiled secret in many organizations that office betting does go on from time to time.  Employers can and do take different approaches to the issue, from looking the other way to disseminating and strictly enforcing a prohibitive policy.  Whatever path management follows, they should do so with their eyes open to the risks—legal and non-legal—related to office gambling.
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There’s no dissent here.  Justice Scalia’s unexpected passing presents a potential blow to employers in two ways.  First, the Supreme Court lost one of its most staunchly conservative justices, who often sided with management in key employment-related decisions.  Second, his death has left the Supreme Court without a clear majority and no easy mechanism to reverse appellate court decisions favoring employees.  With the 2016 elections nearly eight months away, and the likelihood of a replacement shrinking with each news cycle, 4-4 decisions are probably the new norm until a replacement is confirmed after the election.
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