Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released the final version of its anticipated overtime exemption rule, setting a new annual salary threshold for “white collar” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at just over $35,000 per year.  In the DOL’s press release accompanying the final rule, the agency anticipated its action will “make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay.”  The new rule will take effect on January 1, 2020.[1]
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Two weeks after publishing proposed new rules to update the white collar exemptions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), yesterday the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued a 15-page Administrator’s Interpretation concluding that “most workers” are employees, as opposed to independent contractors, under the FLSA. (A copy of the guidance can be found here) Although this guidance does not change current law or regulations but rather is intended to provide clarity on the proper classification of workers, employers who utilize independent contractors should view it as further evidence of the aggressive stance the DOL is taking on this issue.
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Employers can breathe a momentary sigh of relief as a result of the recent Supreme Court decision issued in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, a case that resolved the issue of whether employers are required to compensate their employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for time spent passing through mandatory security screenings at the close of the workday. In reversing a decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in favor of the employees, the Supreme Court ruled that such time is not compensable under the FLSA because the security screenings are not an “intrinsic element” of the activities that the employees were employed to perform and therefore do not meet the Court’s previously established “integral and indispensable” test.
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The U.S. Supreme Court’s January 27, 2014 decision in Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp. brings clarity to a hotly contested area of law for unionized workplaces. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), employees are generally entitled to compensation for the time it takes them to don and doff-put on and take off-required protective gear at the beginning and end of each workday, provided that the gear is integral and indispensable to the employees’ principal work activities. At the same time, FLSA Section 203(o) provides that the time employees spend “changing clothes” at the beginning and end of each workday can be treated as non-work time, and therefore non-compensable, by way of express terms of, or by custom or practice under, a bona fide collective bargaining agreement. 29 U.S.C. § 203(o). In other words, the FLSA enables unionized employers to bargain collectively not to compensate employees for the on-site time they spend changing into and out of clothes. The issue before the Supreme Court in Sandifer was whether donning and doffing protective gear constitutes “changing clothes” for purposes of the application of Section 203(o).
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