Andrea Mickles filed a complaint against her employer Country Club Inc., alleging it had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by improperly classifying her and other employees as independent contractors and failing to pay them minimum wage and overtime.  She filed her case as a collective action, and others opted into the case before any ruling on conditional certification.  Those opt-ins eventually provided the Eleventh Circuit with an opportunity to address an issue of first impression in any Circuit: What is the status of individuals who opt into a case that is never conditionally certified? Continue Reading Who’s Invited to the Party?: The Status of Collective Action Opt-Ins

In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco Cty., 137 S. Ct. 1773 (June 17, 2017), the U.S. Supreme Court established limitations on personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants in “mass actions,” a litigation strategy often utilized by plaintiffs’ class action attorneys to sue corporations in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions that have little to no connection with the underlying dispute.  The Supreme Court determined that the requisite connection between the corporate defendant and the litigation forum must be based on more than a combination of the company’s connections with the state and the similarity of the claims of the resident plaintiffs and the non-resident claimants.  The ruling directed the dismissal of 592 non-California claims from 33 other states.  As a result, the ruling supports the view that plaintiffs cannot simply “forum shop” in large class and collective actions and instead must sue where the corporate defendant has significant contacts for purposes of general jurisdiction or limit the class definition to residents of the state where the lawsuit is filed.

Continue Reading A New Tool For Preventing Forum Shopping in FLSA Collective Actions

New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act will go into effect on October 29, 2018, making it the tenth state plus Washington DC and dozens of localities to mandate paid sick leave.

New Jersey’s Act requires employers of all sizes to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid leave per 12-month period.  Key aspects of the new law include: Continue Reading New Jersey Requires Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave

When a franchisor provides a California franchisee with detailed instructions about how to operate the franchise business, but allows the franchisee to manage its own workforce, can the franchisor be held liable for the franchisee’s wage and hour violations?  The California Court of Appeals found the answer to be no under the facts in Curry v. Equilon Enterprises, LLC, 2018 WL 1959472 (Cal. Ct. App. Apr. 26, 2018).  There, the Court of Appeals concluded Equilon Enterprises, LLC, doing business as Shell Oil Products US (“Shell”), was not liable for the alleged wage and hour violations of the company that operated its Shell-branded gas stations throughout California. Continue Reading Are Franchisors Joint Employers in California Wage Cases?

A single paragraph in an otherwise routine opinion could have reverberations in FLSA exemption cases for years to come.

Earlier this week, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held in Encino Motorcars LLC v. Navarro et al. that auto service advisors are exempt under the FLSA’s overtime pay requirement.  While the case resolved a circuit split for a discrete exemption, the Court’s decision has broad implications for all employers.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Rejects Notion That FLSA Exemptions Should Be “Narrowly Construed”

The practice of “tip-pooling,” which refers to the sharing of tips between “front-of-house” staff (servers, waiters, bartenders) and “back-of-house” staff (chefs and dishwashers), has been in the news recently as the Trump Department of Labor (“DOL”) seeks to roll back a 2011 Obama-era rule limiting the practice under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

Continue Reading DOL Expresses Interest in Banning “Tip-Skimming”

Say an employee slips $20 from the register and even admits to it when you show the camera footage.  Or, more innocently, say an employee is overpaid $20 entirely by accident.  If the employee refuses to give it back, should you deduct the $20 from the employee’s paycheck?

It depends.  Here are four questions to ask yourself.  Continue Reading Employee Theft: Can Employers Deduct Suspected or Known Theft from an Employee’s Paycheck?

Under a new DOL pilot program, employers can self-report wage violations and potentially avoid costly litigation.

Last week, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched a six-month pilot program to resolve FLSA violations.  Under the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program, employers may self-report potential overtime or minimum wage violations to the WHD, which will then resolve the matter by supervising payments to employees if the employees accept the settlement.  Importantly, the WHD will not impose penalties or liquidated damages on employers that participate in the program and proactively work with the WHD to resolve the compensation errors.  Further, if an employee accepts a supervised settlement through PAID, s/he waives his or her right to file an action to recover damages and fees for the violations and time period identified by the employer.  To participate in the PAID program, an employer must identify: (1) the wage violation(s); (2) the impacted employee(s); (3) the time period(s) in which the violation(s) occurred; and (4) the amount of back wages owed to the impacted employee(s).  However, employers may not participate if they are in litigation or under investigation by the WHD for the practices at issue, or to repeatedly resolve the same potential violations.

Continue Reading DOL Launches Pilot Program for Self-Reporting FLSA Violations

The Sixth Circuit recently affirmed a district court’s summary judgment decision finding that an employer, Plastipak Holdings, Inc., Plastipak Packaging, Inc., Plastipak Technologies, LLC, Plastipak, and William C. Young (collectively, “Plastipak”) properly had paid employees using the “fluctuating workweek” method and dismissing plaintiffs’ claims for underpayment of wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Affirms Employer’s Use of Fluctuating Workweek

On February 1, 2018, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed an overtime class action suit brought on behalf of a group of former democratic campaign workers for their work during the 2016 presidential election.  See Katz v. DNC Services Corp., Civil Action No. 16-5800 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 1, 2018).  In dismissing the overtime suit, the Court relied on an often-overlooked defense to the Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”) – namely, that the FLSA only covers employees engaged in interstate commerce as opposed to employees engaged in purely local activities.

Continue Reading Campaign Workers’ Overtime Suit Dismissed Based on Purely Local Activities