On May 2, 2022, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to Helix Energy Solutions Group Incorporated after Helix lost before the en banc United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in a sharply-divided opinion last year.  In Hewitt v. Helix Energy Solutions Grp., Inc., 15 F.4th 289 (5th Cir. 2021), the Fifth Circuit held 12-6 that employers must guarantee their day-rate workers a minimum weekly payment that is reasonably related to the amount those workers actually earn in that timespan for their workers to be exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements.  This minimum weekly payment must be a predetermined amount that does not change based on the number of days or hours actually worked, if the employer wishes to enjoy the FLSA’s exemptions to paying its day-rate workers overtime.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Will Consider Helix Day Rate Pay Case

On April 9, 2022, Maryland became just the tenth state (in addition to the District of Columbia) to enact a paid family and medical leave law that covers private-sector workers, after overriding Governor Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. 
Continue Reading Maryland Becomes the Tenth State to Pass a Paid Family Leave Law

A small but growing number of employees are asking for cryptocurrency as a form of compensation.  Whether a substitute for wages or as part of an incentive package, offering cryptocurrency as compensation has become a way for some companies to differentiate themselves from others.  In a competitive labor market, this desire to provide innovative forms of compensation is understandable.  But any company thinking about cryptocurrency needs to be aware of the risks involved, including regulatory uncertainties and market volatility.
Continue Reading Cryptocurrency As Compensation: Beware Of The Risks

On October 4, 2021, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on a petition challenging the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that California’s strict meal and rest period rules do not apply to commercial truck drivers engaged in interstate commerce.  The Court’s denial of the petition leaves in place a decision that came as a welcome sigh of relief for employers in the trucking industry.
Continue Reading Keep On Truckin’: California’s Meal And Rest Break Rules Preempted By FMCSA

On March 14, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a technical assistance document providing guidance when it comes to claims of discrimination against employees and applicants with caregiving responsibilities in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic (“Guidelines”).  The Guidelines, entitled “The COVID-19 Pandemic and Caregiver Discrimination Under Federal Employment Discrimination Laws”, examine discrimination against employees and applicants based on pandemic caregiving responsibilities, noting that such discrimination may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) or Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), or other federal laws.
Continue Reading EEOC Provides New Guidance on COVID-19 Pandemic and Caregiver Discrimination

Lost in the weeds of recent COVID-19 news is the increasing number of states and localities that have legalized medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.  Such legalization brings with it varying degrees of worker protections and employer obligations.  Philadelphia, PA and the state of Montana are two of the latest jurisdictions to add their names to the sprouting list of jurisdictions that protect not only medical use, but also recreational use of marijuana.  These protections will undoubtedly usher in a new wave of test cases and compliance questions, particularly as many workplaces shift to remote models.
Continue Reading Philadelphia and Montana Join List of Jurisdictions That Provide Protections for Recreational Marijuana Use

On September 9, 2021, the Fifth Circuit issued a 12-6 opinion in Hewitt v. Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc., 15 F.4th 289 (5th Cir. 2021) that clarified the requirements for day rate workers to fall within one of the FLSA’s exemptions from overtime payment.  This ruling was hotly-contested because it made clear that employers must take additional steps to properly classify their day rate workers as exempt employees, even when those employees clearly exceed the financial threshold of the highly compensated exemption.  Many expect the decision to substantially affect the course of day rate FLSA litigation in the Fifth Circuit, especially misclassification disputes within the energy industry.
Continue Reading Cert Filed in Hope Supreme Court Will Reevaluate Fifth Circuit’s FLSA OT Ruling

On December 27, 2021, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their isolation and quarantine recommendations for the general public, including more limited time periods for quarantine and isolation periods.  On December 30, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released updated guidance to conform to the new CDC guidelines but added additional requirements, including testing to exit isolation or quarantine after the fifth day (which the CDC now acknowledges is the “best approach” but does not require as part of its formal guidance).  Notably, the new guidance also introduces a distinction between boosted and non-boosted individuals for the first time. 
Continue Reading California Adopts New CDC Guidance Regarding Quarantine and Isolation Periods With Its Own Twists

On December 6, 2021, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio surprised employers by announcing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that, starting December 27, NYC will mandate vaccines for all private-sector workers.  The mandate is expected to affect around 184,000 employers.
Continue Reading NYC Mandates Vaccines for All Private-Sector Workers, But Will it Stick?

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has signed S.B. 4394, an amendment of Section 740 to the New York Labor Law that dramatically expands safeguards against employer whistleblower retaliation. The new law expands protected activity that entitles an employee to whistleblower protection, the categories of covered workers protected by the statute, and the definition of prohibited retaliatory actions, among other changes.  The new law takes effect on January 26, 2022. Some of the key provisions that New York employers should carefully review are listed below.
Continue Reading New York Substantially Expands Employee Whistleblower Protections