Author: dhouston

U.S. Supreme Court Signals Abandoning the “Narrow” Interpretation Standard for Overtime Exemptions Suggesting More Employer-Favorable Future Rulings

On April 2, 2018, the Supreme Court issued a ruling with narrow application, but it is significant because it likely signals a “new day” favorable to employers regarding how Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is interpreted in the future.  The FLSA, of course, is the law that requires the payment of overtime to “non-exempt” workers.  The decision offers hope that future rulings addressing whether or not employees are properly classified as being “exempt” from the overtime requirement, will be more employer-friendly. Case Background and Ruling The case, Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, 2018 WL 15668025 (U.S. Apr. 2, 2018), involved the FLSA overtime exemption concerning car dealership workers. Historically, “all car dealership employees,” had been exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements under the prior language of the regulations. However, this language was later narrowed to exempt only “any salesman, parts man, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles.” As one’s imagination takes over, there are plenty of jobs at car dealerships other than “salesmen, parts men and mechanics.” This leaves room for interpretation, argument, legal costs and ultimately, potential liability where workers are misclassified and as a result, overtime is not properly paid. Again, historically, the more narrow language has been interpreted to not exempt service advisors. That was until 2011 when the Department of Labor issued a new regulation reiterating its original view that the language...

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The Year End/Holiday Celebration in the Era of Reckoning

Who doesn’t enjoy the annual company Holiday Party? Do any of these remind you of an event that you have attended? Employees, relieved of normal workplace stresses and worries, exuberantly extolling a year’s worth of hard-won achievements and desired esprit de corps; Happy workers collectively celebrating year-end bonuses and time off from work, eschewing business attire, dressed and coiffed attractively for the “office party,” sharing Mistletoe Greetings; Owners, managers and executives mingling for “morale” purposes with staff and support team members, freed (for the occasion) from boring “HR Rules” and Company codes; Normal courtesies and inhibitions lowered by the celebratory atmosphere and plentiful Company-provided Holiday Spirits. What could possibly go wrong? The sharp increase in publicized harassment claims is merely the “tip of the (liability) iceberg.” Here are a few practical suggestions for your organization to consider: Harassment. No employer wants to be defending a harassment claim in the current “red hot” environment. And, don’t forget that “hostile environment” claims are not limited to “sexual harassment” – an actionable claim can arise based on any “protected characteristic” or classification. The legal duty to prevent harassment in the workplace likely extends to work sponsored events. Make sure your harassment-avoidance and reporting policies are up-to-date and clearly apply to a “company sponsored event” using state-law appropriate language.  Costume or dress-up events are likely in our view to present a situation where some...

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The HR Blog is published by Dickinson Wright PLLC to inform the public of important developments within the firm and practice areas. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. We encourage you to consult a Dickinson Wright attorney if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered in this blog.