The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday issued its new proposal to amend the salary threshold for employees to qualify for the Fair Labor Standards Act’s white-collar exemptions from overtime pay requirements to $35,308 per year ($679 per week).

The much-anticipated proposed rule would raise the minimum annual salary requirement for the white-collar exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act from $23,600, a level that has been in place since 2004.  The DOL estimates that the rule change will make just more than one million new employees eligible to earn overtime, assuming that employers do not increase employees’ salary levels to meet or exceed the new level.

Continue Reading DOL Proposes New Salary Threshold for White-Collar Overtime Exemptions

We recently highlighted DOL opinion letter 2018-27, which rescinded the 80/20 rule and was a welcome change for employers in the restaurant industry.  However, less than two months after the DOL’s policy change, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri rejected the DOL’s new guidance, claiming it is “unpersuasive and unworthy” of deference.

As a refresher, the 80/20 rule requires businesses to pay tipped workers at least minimum wage (with no tip credit) for non-tip generating tasks when these tasks take up more than 20% of the tipped workers’ time.

Continue Reading Federal Court “Tips” the Scale in Favor of Restaurant Workers by Reviving 80/20 Rule

The Federal government has entered its 12th day of partial shutdown, making it the fourth longest in American history to date.   But, not all government departments are affected, and the Department of Labor is one that is not.  The DOL is already fully funded for 2019, so the current stalemate between Congress and the President does not affect its resources.

Continue Reading DOL Unaffected By Shutdown: OFCCP Remains Active

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently published an Opinion Letter (FLSA-2018-27) reissuing its January 16, 2009 guidance (Opinion Letter FLSA-2009-23) and reversing its Obama-era position on the 20% tip credit rule.  This opinion letter marks another major shift in DOL’s policy and presents a welcome change for employers in the restaurant industry.

Continue Reading DOL “Tips” the Scale in Favor of Restaurant Employers by Ending 20% Tip Credit Rule

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

On Friday, January 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) posted a brief statement and updated its Fact Sheet on Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act to clarify that going forward, it will use the “primary beneficiary” seven factor test for distinguishing bona fide interns from employees under the FLSA.  The DOL’s approach is consistent with the test adopted by appellate courts such as the Second and Ninth Circuits.

Continue Reading DOL Abandons Six-Factor Intern Test and Adopts More Flexible “Primary Beneficiary” Test

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking to repeal a 2011 rule that significantly impacted the compensation of hospitality workers.  Specifically, the NPRM proposes to allow hospitality employers to control the distribution of the tips they pool assuming their employees are paid the full minimum wage.  By way of background, the FLSA requires employers to pay employees a minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour) plus overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a single workweek.  Employees who “customarily and regularly receive tips” must still receive the minimum wage, but employers may elect to take a “tip credit” by counting up to $5.12 per hour of those employees’ tips toward the minimum wage, meaning employers may pay a reduced wage of $2.13 to tipped employees.  Historically, employers that take the tip credit have been prohibited from sharing money from a tip-pooling system to employees who do not traditionally receive direct tips (cooks, dish washers, etc.).  In 2011, the DOL extended the tip-pooling prohibition to apply to employers even if they do not take the tip credit and pay their employees the full federal minimum wage.

Continue Reading Department of Labor Makes It Easier for Employees to Share Tips – Rolls Back Prior Restrictions

On August 31, 2017, a federal district court judge in Texas struck down the Department of Labor’s Obama-era controversial 2016 rule that raised the minimum salary threshold required to qualify for the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “white collar” exemption. Under the proposed regulations, the minimum salary threshold was raised to just over $47,000 per year, and increased the overtime eligibility threshold for highly compensated workers from $100,000 to about $134,000.

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The U.S. Department of Labor continues to work towards dismantling the Obama administration’s overtime rule, saying that it intends to revise the controversial rule to lower the salary threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s white-collar exemptions. The Obama administration’s rule sought to more than double the current salary requirement of $23,660 a year for white-collar exemptions. Though the rule was estimated to make 4 million additional workers eligible for overtime pay, it was also expected to cause employers significant financial and regulatory burdens.

Continue Reading Overtime Rule Update: DOL Defends Power to Set Salary Threshold