Second Circuit Court of Appeals Adopts “Primary Beneficiary Test” and Provides Guidance on the Unpaid Intern Question

On July 2, 2015, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued significant pro-employer decisions in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures (Nos. 13-4478-cv, 13-4481-cv) (“Fox”) and Wang v. Hearst Corp. (No. 13-4480-cv) (“Hearst”) that served as a setback for the plaintiffs in both cases.  In both cases, the plaintiffs – unpaid interns who had spent time at Fox Searchlight and Hearst magazines, respectively – alleged that they should have been classified as employees and paid for their time.  As a result, they brought claims for, among other things, unpaid wages on a class-wide basis.  The district court decisions were split.  In Fox, the judge granted summary judgment on the issue that interns were employees and permitted the plaintiffs to proceed on a class and collective basis.  To the contrary, in Hearst, the judge denied summary judgment on the same issue and denied the plaintiffs’ motion to proceed as a class.  On appeal in both cases, the Second Circuit adopted a balancing standard called the “primary beneficiary test” and held that district courts should use this test when analyzing whether an individual should have been classified as an intern or an employee.  The Second Circuit also held that the proposed classes of interns in both cases failed to satisfy the requisite standards in order to proceed on a class-wide basis. Continue Reading

DOL Says Most Independent Contractors Actually Employees

In furtherance of its agenda to extend minimum wage and other wage-hour protections as broadly as possible, on July 15, 2015, the Department of Labor issued a far-reaching interpretive memorandum expressing the DOL’s belief that “most workers [classified as independent contractors] are employees under the FLSA’s broad definitions.” Continue Reading

California Paid Sick Leave Law Amended, Effective Immediately

On July 13, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown approved AB 304 Sick Leave: Accrual and Limitations, which amends the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (i.e., Sections 245.5, 246, and 247.5 of the California Labor Code).  These amendments took effect immediately upon signature.  The following is a summary of the key amendments to the law, most of which clarify what is required by the law. Continue Reading

60-Day Public Comment Period Commences On Proposed FLSA Overtime Exemption Rule Changes

On Monday, July 6, 2015, in response to a March 2014 executive order signed by President Obama, the Department of Labor (“Department”) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that will more than double the minimum salary necessary for a worker to be classified as “exempt” from the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) overtime regulations.  It is estimated that over 5 million, currently exempt, salaried employees will be affected by the increased salary threshold.  Continue Reading

REMINDER: California Family Rights Act Amendments Go Into Effect July 1, 2015

The California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) is a regulation that provides employees with up to 12 workweeks of leave within a 12-month period for a qualifying event, such as family care leave or leave for an employee’s own serious health condition.  Employers covered by this regulation are those who employ 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.  If an employer is covered by the CFRA, eligible employees are those who have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave.  Continue Reading

Second Circuit Holds: You Can’t Always Get What You Want – As Long As Your Employer Gives You What You Need (An Effective Accommodation)

On May 21, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Noll v. International Business Machines Corporation, Case No. 13-4096 (May 21, 2015), affirmed a decision by the Southern District of New York which granted the defendant-employer summary judgment on the plaintiff-employee’s claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”).  Specifically, the Second Circuit held that: (i) the employer reasonably accommodated plaintiff by providing American Sign Language (“ASL”) interpreters capable of translating intranet files; and (ii) in light of this accommodation, plaintiff had no claim under the ADA or the NYSHRL that the employer failed to engage in the interactive process. Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Refuses to Enforce Forum Selection Clause Because Employer Would Not Stipulate to Apply California Law and Did Not Show that the Foreign State’s Legal Protections Were Equal to California’s

In Verdugo v. Alliantgroup, L.P., the California Court of Appeal held that a forum selection clause in an employment agreement was unenforceable because the employer could not prove that the employee’s rights under the California wage and hour law “would not be diminished in any way” if the lawsuit proceeded in a non-California court. Continue Reading

Los Angeles Mayor Approves Minimum Wage Increase

On June 10, 2015, the Los Angeles City Council voted to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2020.  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed the measure on Saturday, June 13, 2015.  Employers are required to increase their minimum wages in steps, starting with an increase to $10.50 an hour by July 1, 2016.  Even businesses located outside of Los Angeles should take note of this change, as hours worked within the city limits may be subject to the increased minimum wage rates.  Meanwhile, the state minimum wage, which is currently $9.00 an hour, will increase to $10.00 an hour on January 1, 2016.  Continue Reading

NYC Council Votes to Sharply Restrict Employer Use of Criminal Background Checks

On Wednesday, June 10, 2015, the New York City Council approved a bill that will strictly regulate how employers in New York City (with at least four employees) may conduct criminal background checks.  Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill, which will go into effect 120 days after enactment.  The bill comes on the heels of the City’s ban on most forms of applicant background credit checks, which we reported on here, and which Mayor de Blasio signed into law on May 6, 2015. Continue Reading

Supreme Court Sides with EEOC in Abercrombie & Fitch Hijab Case

On Monday, June 1, 2015, the United States Supreme Court reversed a judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit which had granted Abercrombie & Fitch (“Abercrombie”) summary judgment in a religious accommodation case brought by a job applicant who wore a headscarf (a hijab) to an interview, but did not mention her religion or request an exception to Abercrombie’s dress code.  The Court’s 8-1 decision in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. rejected the Tenth Circuit’s holding that, to prove discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”), it is an applicant’s burden to advise an employer of a religious practice necessitating accommodation.  Instead, the Court found that a job applicant need only demonstrate that a prospective employer’s desire to avoid providing a religious accommodation was a motivating factor in its decision not to hire, not that the employer actually knew of the need for an accommodation.    Continue Reading

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