The theme for last year’s federal developments was reversal of Obama-era rules. The Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board were especially active in this respect.
After a relatively quiet Supreme Court term for employment law in 2018-19, the stage is set for the court to rule in 2020 on highly anticipated topics. Below is a summary of major federal employment law headlines from last year and a look at what employers can expect in 2020.
The Department of Labor (DOL) announced its Final Rule updating the exemption threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on Sept. 24, 2019. The Final Rule raises the standard salary level threshold for “white collar” employees from the $23,660 minimum established in 2004 to $35,568, or $684 per week. Employees earning less than $35,568 a year must be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 each week. Above this salary level, eligibility for overtime varies based on job duties.
Since June 2010, contractors and subcontractors with contracts that result from federal agency solicitations issued on or after June 21, 2010, have been required to display the Department of Labor (DOL) poster notifying employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). On May 16, 2019, the DOL made the following updates to this employer-required poster:
- a new telephone number for the National Labor Relations Board; and
- new contact information for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
On April 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offered a simplified test in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to determine whether two entities should be considered joint employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA provides that two entities can be jointly and severally responsible for an employee’s wages, and thus the potential FLSA violations of either entity, if they function as joint employers. The notice sets out that the employment relationship should be determined based on a balance of four factors, specifically, whether a potential joint employer actually exercises the power to:
The Department of Labor (DOL) issued its long-awaited proposed overtime rule and new exemption threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on March 7, 2019. The regulation, which replaces the controversial rule issued under the Obama administration in 2016, raises the salary threshold from the $23,660 minimum established in 2004 to $35,308, or $679 per week. As such, employees earning under $35,308 a year must be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 each week. Above this salary level, eligibility for overtime varies based on job duties.
On Nov. 8, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued an Opinion Letter reviving its 2009 guidance that eliminated the 80/20 rule for tipped workers. The rule prohibited employers and businesses from paying tipped workers below the minimum wage by way of a tip credit for non-tipped work when such work comprised more than 20 percent of their day. Under the Obama administration, the 2009 Opinion Letter was withdrawn, which restored the 80/20 rule and sparked a flurry of lawsuits alleging that tipped workers spend more than 20 percent of their time performing non-tipped work for which they did not receive the minimum wage. After finding the rule was confusing and nearly unworkable, the DOL has done away with it once again.
The federal employment law landscape saw some interesting developments in 2017, as well as some anticipated changes that were ultimately halted or delayed. Below is a summary of major federal employment law headlines and a look at what employers can expect in 2018.
For Missouri and Illinois employers specifically, a review of 2017 updates and a look forward at 2018 can be found here.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) this month issued its revised Fact Sheet #71 on “Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” outlining that the agency will rely on the court-approved “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether an intern should be considered an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
In a surprising move, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the Final Rule, changing the claims procedure for ERISA- governed disability plans, will become effective on April 1, 2018. The DOL previously delayed the Jan. 1, 2018 effective date to allow additional time for comments and data submissions and to give the DOL time to amend or rescind the Final Rule. In a press statement released on Jan. 5, 2018, the DOL stated that while it received numerous complaints about the New Rule, only a few of them provided substantive criticism.
On January 5, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division reissued 17 opinion letters to shed light on the DOL’s stance on numerous issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the administration of President George W. Bush, the DOL issued 36 opinion letters, many of which were recalled under President Barack Obama in early 2009. A year later in 2010, the Wage and Hour Division announced it would no longer issue opinion letters in response to employer and business questions about wage and hour issues under the FLSA.