On September 22, 2020, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) released a long-awaited proposed rule (the “Proposed Rule”) providing guidance for determining employee versus independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  For decades, employers have struggled with properly classifying workers, oftentimes resulting in substantial liability for, among other things, unpaid overtime and unpaid payroll taxes.  If adopted, the Proposed Rule may make it easier for employers to classify workers as independent contractors.
Continue Reading Independent Contractor v. Employee: DOL Releases Proposed Rule Clarifying Test for Classification of Workers

On August 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2020-5 (“FAB 2020-5” or the “Bulletin”) in an effort to guide an increasing number of employers faced with the challenge of tracking compensable hours worked by teleworking non-exempt employees.  Specifically, FAB 2020-5 offers clarity regarding how, and to what extent, employers must monitor the number of hours worked by non-exempt employees who work remotely.  As many workforces seem poised to continue partial or complete telework for the balance of the year, FAB 2020-5 provides useful insight to assist employers in properly monitoring remote hours and avoiding liability for unpaid wages.
Continue Reading Trust, but Verify: DOL Issues New Guidance for Tracking Teleworkers’ Time

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the central role local and long haul trucking companies and drivers play in the overall U.S. economy and specifically our public health infrastructure.  Now, as states and businesses around the country gradually reopen and truck deliveries begin to ramp up, employers in the commercial trucking industry should be aware of recent changes to Hours of Service regulations as well as COVID-19-related guidance on keeping employees and the general public healthy and safe.  By updating their policies and procedures and enacting responsible safety measures, motor carriers will be in the best position to weather the storm of this pandemic and avoid the risks associated with employment litigation and compliance pitfalls.
Continue Reading Overview of Recent Updates for Employers in the Commercial Trucking Industry

After years of uncertainty, on September 24, 2019, the Department of Labor released a Final Rule making changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) overtime regulations.

BACKGROUND

Since 2004, there had been no significant changes in the overtime salary thresholds under the FLSA. In 2016, the Obama administration attempted to make significant increases to the salary thresholds. Those proposed changes came to a halt when a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas, granted a preliminary injunction, and ultimately invalidated the rule. Now, several years later, the DOL’s Final Rule provides employers with much more certainty as to their obligations under the FLSA.
Continue Reading It’s Here: The DOL’s Final Overtime Rule has Been Released

Hoping to clarify when entities should be treated as “joint employers” under the FLSA, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently announced its intent to revise its so-called “joint employer” regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Under the FLSA, covered employers must pay nonexempt employees at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime wages for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Since 1939, the DOL has recognized that two or more entities may sometimes “jointly” employ a single employee and share legal responsibility for that employee’s wages for hours worked for either entity. However, the DOL has not formally addressed the conditions under which “joint employment” relationships exist since 1958.
Continue Reading Aiming for Clarity, DOL Proposes to Update the FLSA’s “Joint Employer” Regulations

Directly in line with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s (OFCCP) new policy emphasis on agency transparency, accountability, efficiency and collaborative resolution, the OFCCP released three new helpful directives on November 30, 2018 concerning the agency’s investigative procedures and avenues for increased communication with federal contractors. The three directives, titled DIR 2019-01 (regarding “Compliance Review Procedures”), DIR 2019-02 (regarding “Early Resolution Procedures”), and DIR 2019-03 (regarding “Opinion Letters and Help Desk”) were issued to “provide guidance to OFCCP staff or federal contractors on enforcement and compliance policy [and] procedures.” While each directive serves its own unique regulatory function, together these directives represent OFCCP’s commitment to consistency in enforcement and cooperation with the federal contractor community. As a whole, they should be viewed as beneficial to contractors aiming to comply with the law, but minimize the “gotcha” approach recently favored by the agency.
Continue Reading OFCCP Issues Contractor Friendly Directives That Aim to Streamline Investigative Processes and Decrease Contractor Guesswork

In a welcome departure from its recent practice, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently issued its first new opinion letters in almost ten years. In addition to issuing three new opinion letters earlier this month, on January 5, 2018, WHD reissued seventeen opinion letters previously withdrawn under the Obama administration.

The resurrection of this practice offers employers a useful tool to ensure compliance with federal employment laws. Prior to the Obama administration, the WHD had a longstanding practice of issuing opinion letters in response to inquiries from employers concerning the application of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other laws enforced by the WHD. These letters have traditionally provided guidance to both employers and employees concerning compliance with the laws and regulations under WHD’s purview. Significantly, for employers, good faith reliance upon WHD’s opinion letters can provide a defense to potential claims of a violation of the FLSA or other laws under the WHD’s jurisdiction.
Continue Reading Department of Labor Offers Employers Clarity By Resuming Its Practice of Issuing Opinion Letters

On Tuesday, March 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced its launch of the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) Program (“PAID” or the “Program”) – aimed at increasing employers’ FLSA compliance and timely payment of back wages to employees. The Program, which will start with a six-month pilot period prior to evaluation and finalization, is explained in detail below.

What is the PAID Program’s Goal?

The Program’s goal is to increase compliance with the FLSA’s overtime and minimum wage requirements by providing employers the opportunity to self-audit and report inadvertent non-compliance without fear of litigation or penalties. The Program also hopes to expedite payment of back pay to affected employees and to cut down on litigation costs to employers, employees, and taxpayers.
Continue Reading Department of Labor Announces New Payroll Audit Pilot Program

On August 31, 2017, Judge Amos Mazzant in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued an order granting a group of twenty-one states’ and fifty-five business associations’ motion for summary judgment in consolidated cases seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against a May 23, 2016 Department of Labor rule drastically increasing the minimum salary an employee must earn to qualify for the most common exemptions from the federal overtime laws. The rule was originally scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016 and would have increased the minimum salary an employee must earn to qualify for the administrative, executive or professional exemption from federal overtime requirements from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually). The rule also would have provided for automatic increases to the minimum salary level every three years. Judge Mazzant had issued a nationwide preliminary injunction on November 22, 2016 delaying implementation of the Department of Labor’s new minimum salary rule, finding that it was likely unlawful and would cause irreparable harm to the plaintiff states and business groups. Judge Mazzant’s August 31, 2017 order confirms the findings in the November 22, 2016 preliminary injunction and represents a final decision at the district court level that the Department of Labor’s May 23, 2016 minimum salary rule is illegal and void.
Continue Reading Federal Court Strikes Down Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule