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Retaliation Claims Get Stronger

Governor Brown just signed SB-306, which significantly strengthens retaliation claims. Employers cannot discharge, discriminate, retaliate, or take adverse action against employees because they engaged in specified protected conduct. Aggrieved employees can seek reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits. Employees can file claims with the Labor Commissioner or pursue a case in court.

Retaliation Claims by Labor Commissioner

Under amdned Labor Code 98.7, the Labor Commissioner can pursue retaliation claims even if no one complains.

The division may, with or without receiving a complaint, commence investigating an employer, in accordance with this section, that it suspects to have discharged or otherwise discriminated against an individual in violation of any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner.

The Labor Commissioner can petition the court for injunctive relief, including reinstatement. The court must order injunctive relief if “reasonable cause exists to believe that an employee has been discharged or subjected to adverse action for raising a claim of retaliation or asserting rights under any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner.” The court must consider the “chilling effect” on other employees when determining the appropriate injunctive relief.

An employer that refuses to comply with the injunctive relief can be fined “one hundred dollars ($100) per day for each day the employer continues to be in noncompliance with the court order, up to a maximum of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000)

Retaliation Claim Process

New Labor Code section 98.74 describes specific timelines and processes for retaliations claims by the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner issues a citation in writing, describing the nature of the violation and the amount of wages and penalties due. The citation must also include any and all appropriate relief, such as cease and desist orders, rehiring or reinstatement, reimbursement of lost wages and interest thereon, and posting notices to employees.

Employers have 30 days to request  hearing, or the citation becomes final. The hearing must proceed within 90 days. There is no mechanism for conducting discovery before the hearing, and no limit on how short or how long a hearing can last. The decision must be issued within 90 days of the conclusion of the hearing. The decision must contain a statement of findings, conclusions of law, and an order.

Employers dissatisfied with the results can file a writ of mandate with the superior court within 45 days. Employers must also obtain a bond “equal to the total amount of any minimum wages, liquidated damages, and overtime compensation” owed.  The bond does not have to include penalties. The order becomes final when no writ is filed.

Employers refusing to comply with a final order are subject to penalties of $100 per day per employee, up to $20,000. The affected employees receive the penalties.

Retaliation Claims by Employees

SB-306 allows employees bringing retaliation claims to include requests for injunctive relief. Courts are directed to issue injunctive relief (i.e., reinstatement) when “reasonable cause exists to believe a violation has occurred.”

The court is must consider the “chilling effect” on other employees.

The new law will go into effect January 1, 2018. You can read the full text of the bill here.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties

Berkeley Minimum Wage Increase

Berkeley Minimum Wage Increase

Minimum wage increases are all the rage. Berkeley, CA is no exception.  Effective October 1, 2017, Berkeley minimum wage increases to $13.75 per hour (from $12.53). It will increase again on October 1, 2018 to $15.00 per hour, and continue to increase each year. Because Berkeley has a higher minimum wage rate than the one set by California or the Federal government, the higher local minimum wage rate takes precedence and must be paid to all employees covered by the local minimum wage regulation. Berkeley’s minimum wage ordinance applies to any employee who “In a calendar week performs at least two (2) hours of work for an Employer within the geographic boundaries of the City.”

Employers must post the Berkeley Minimum Wage Poster, which you can download here. The same poster talks about Berkeley’s new Paid Sick Leave Ordinance and Berkeley’s Family Friendly and Environment Friendly Workplace Ordinance.

Berkeley Paid Sick Leave

In addition to the Berkeley minimum wage increase, Berkeley also has its own Paid Sick Leave Ordinance the becomes effective October 1st. The Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (PSL) requires all employees earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. “Small Business” employers with fewer than 25 employees may cap an employee’s accrued paid sick leave at 48 hours and may cap the use of paid sick leave to 48 hours per year. Employers with 25 or more employees may cap an employee’s accrual of paid sick leave at 72 hours, but may not cap how much paid sick leave an employee uses in a calendar year. All Employers, regardless of where they are located, must provide paid sick leave to their Employees who perform at least 2 hours of work per week within the geographic limits of the City of Berkeley.

Berkeley Family Friendly and Environment Friendly Workplace Ordinance

The Family Friendly ordinance provides each employee the right to ask for a flexible or predictable work schedule. Employers must respond in writing within 21 days to any written request. The ordinance applies to employers who regularly employs 10 or more employees working in the City. Covered employers include the City but not any other federal, state, or local government entities. It applies to employees who regularly work at least 8 hours per week in Berkeley, and have worked for the same employer for at least three months. Eligible employees can request a flexible or predictable working arrangement.

A “Predictable Working Arrangement” means “a change in an Employee’s terms and conditions of employment that provides a consistent or reliable pattern of work assignment, including but not limited to days scheduled to work, start time and end time and work site location with at least seven (7) calendar days’ notice prior to the start of the scheduled shift.”

A “flexible working arrangement” means a change in an employee’s terms and conditions of employment that provides flexibility. Employees may request changes such as:

  • Modified work schedules.
  • Changes in start/end times for work.
  • Part-time employment.
  • Job-sharing arrangements.
  • Working from home.
  • Telecommuting.
  • Reduction or change in work duties.
  • Part-year employment.

Employees must request the changes in writing. Employers must respond to the request within 21 days.

As is common for local ordinances, employers cannot retaliate against employees under any of the new ordinances. If you work in Berkeley, or have employees working at least 2 hours per week in Berkeley, become familiar with these new laws.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Using this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Using the Internet or this blog to communicate with the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Labor Law and Payroll Tax Seminar

Labor Law and Payroll Tax Seminar

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE or Labor Commissioner) are hosting a free seminar regarding labor law issues, wage and hour requirements and payroll tax issues. The presentation will cover:

  • Record keeping requirements
  • Reporting requirements
  • Employer obligations
  • Payment requirements
  • Common wage and hour laws
  • Employer and employee rights and responsibilities
  • How to distinguish between an employee and an independent contractor

The presentation is being held on March 15, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Dublin Civic Center.

Although I am not presenting at this seminar, I’ve presented similar topics to various groups in the past, and it is an area that requires attention. Many new or smaller employers, and even some more established and larger employers, make small but costly mistakes. This presentation will help employers understand their obligations, and make corrections to avoid problems in the future.

I doubt the presentation will cover what to do if you’ve already made a mistake without increasing your liability, which is unfortunate. I always prefer to include possible resolutions to common labor law issues when an employer discovers a possible problem.

Register for Labor Law Seminar

Employers interested in attending can register at www.edd.ca.gov/Payroll_Tax_Seminars/ or call 888-745-3886. The agencies conduct these presentations periodically, so if you can’t make the March 15th presentation, check for other available dates.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties

Properly Paying Caregivers: SNT Symposium

Properly Paying Caregivers for Special Needs Trust Beneficiaries

I am excited to present Properly Paying Caregivers for SNT Beneficiaries at this year’s Special Needs Planning SymposiumSharon Novak of TEAM Risk Management Strategies, LLC and I will cover:

  • Employees versus Independent Contractors
  • Personal Attendants versus Companions
  • Who is an Employer when Hiring Caregivers
  • Minimum Wage and Overtime Obligations
  • Paid Sick Leave Requirements
  • Payroll Taxes, Unemployment Insurance and Workers’ Compensation
  • Conducting Background Checks
  • Common Myths and Misconceptions when Hiring Caregivers

The presentation will be part of a 2-day symposium, with 14 sessions, 10+ speakers and 2 workshops. Set in beautiful Sonoma, California, you can view the full schedule here.

Properly Paying Caregivers Presentation  Set for Saturday, February 18th, at 2:30 p.m.

Kevin Urbatsch did a wonderful job gathering wonderful speakers, including professional fiduciaries, trusts and estates attorneys and other professionals experienced in handling special needs trusts. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

PAGA Lawsuits Not Subject to Arbitration

PAGA Lawsuits

The Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes aggrieved employees to file PAGA lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations. Employees pursuing PAGA claims must follow specified requirements. Labor Code Sections 2698 – 2699.5.

Courts enforce employer-mandated arbitration agreements more often than before. Attorneys representing employees generally view arbitration as a less-favorable place for resolving disputes. They usually prefer to be in court. A recent California Court of Appeals decision held that a PAGA lawsuit is not subject to arbitration. The court opened with:

Bernadette Tanguilig, an employee at Bloomingdale’s, Inc. (Bloomingdale’s), filed a representative action on behalf of herself and fellow employees pursuant to the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) (Lab. Code, § 2698 et seq.), alleging several Labor Code violations by the company. Bloomingdale’s moved to compel arbitration of Tanguilig’s “individual PAGA claim” and stay or dismiss the remainder of the complaint. The trial court denied the motion. We affirm. Under Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC (2014) 59 Cal.4th 348 (Iskanian) and consistent with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) (9 U.S.C. et seq.), a PAGA representative claim is nonwaivable by a plaintiff-employee via a predispute arbitration agreement with an employer, and a PAGA claim (whether individual or representative) cannot be ordered to arbitration without the state’s consent.

Iskanian and PAGA Lawsuits

Bloomingdale’s argued Iskanian was wrong under more recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. On appeal, the company dropped it’s argument that it was distinguishable from Iskanian because the employee had the ability to opt out of the arbitration process. The court disagreed.

[W]e are bound by the Iskanian court’s interpretation of the pre-Iskanian United States Supreme Court decisions cited by Bloomingdale’s. Finally, we note that the Ninth Circuit has ruled that Iskanian correctly decided the federal question, thus superseding conflicting prior federal district court decisions cited by Bloomingdale’s. (See Sakkab v. Luxottica Retail North America, Inc., supra, 803 F.3d at p. 427.)

An essential point in Iskanian and Tanguilig is that PAGA lawsuits are not a dispute between an employer and an employee arising out of their contractual relationship. “It is a dispute between an employer and the state.” The employee is merely acting as a “deputized” agent of the state. Since the state did not sign an arbitration agreement with the employer, the company cannot force the state’s agent–e.g., the employee–into arbitration.

I can think of a couple of different unintended consequences of this analysis. For now, however, I’m keeping those close to my chest as I have a couple of ongoing cases where I may need to use the arguments. No sense giving away all my trade secrets.

Employers wishing to use arbitration agreements should review the agreements with counsel. Not all arbitration agreements are alike, and employees may be able to void an arbitration agreement as unconscionable. I anticipate seeing many more arbitration cases in the upcoming years. If you have an arbitration agreement you would like reviewed, or if you are considering using an arbitration agreement, feel free to contact the Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

 

The Magnificent Seven Wage and Hour Rules

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven is one of my all-time favorite movies. The story is timeless and has been adapted several times. Yes, I know the Magnificent Seven is an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Even Pixar came out with it’s own version in A Bug’s Life. I never tire of the story-line and the actors in the original Magnificent Seven. I even bare a scar on my forehead from when my brother tired to imitate James Coburn’s knife throwing skills. Thankfully the butt-end of the screwdriver hit me instead of the other end. Thanks, David!

When I saw the remake coming out with some of my current favorite actors, it definitely made my “must-see” list. It also got me thinking: what other Magnificent Sevens are worth considering?

The Magnificent Seven Wage and Hour Rules

Those familiar with my law practice know that I represent a lot of employers and employees regarding wage and hour disputes. I also frequently present seminars to attorneys, HR staff and payroll specialists regarding how to pay employees correctly. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to provide my Magnificent Seven Wage and Hour Rules.

In no particular order, here is my list of seven wage and hour rules to follow if you want to avoid problems in the workplace:

  1. Only pay a salary to employees if they are truly exempt from overtime.
  2. Keep accurate records of the hours worked for at least 4 years.
  3. Have policies in place providing for regular rest and meal breaks, and have employees clock out for unpaid meal breaks.
  4. Just because you think someone is an independent contractor, doesn’t mean the government or the courts will agree.
  5. Know if local ordinances require different rules for employees working in different cities and counties.
  6. Commission and bonus agreements should be in writing and identify when a commission or bonus is earned.
  7. Tips belong to the employees, not to the employer!

Employing workers in California can be difficult. Most employers make mistakes out of good intentions rather than evil objectives. Regardless of the intent, however, employers are responsible for following state and federal wage and hour laws. Hopefully this short list will help employers and employees avoid the most common wage and hour problems.

Now, go buy your ticket for the new Magnificent Seven. I don’t know if Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke can match Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and James Coburn, but I’m sure it will be a good time.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

State Penalized for Failing to Timely Pay Final Wages

Prompt payment of final wages. It’s not just a good idea. It’s the law. The State of California apparently didn’t get the memo on that one. The California Supreme Court had to tell the state that retiring employees are entitled to their final wages on their last day of employment. Labor Code sections 202 and 203, requires employers to make prompt payment of the final wages owed to employees who quit. Failure to timely pay final wages allows a court to impose statutory penalties. In McLean v. State of California, a retired deputy attorney general, sued the State of California on behalf of herself and a class of former state employees who did not timely receive their final wages when they quit or retired.

The state argued that sections 202 and 203 do not apply when employees retire. It also argued that McClean should have sued the state agency for which she worked instead of the State. The court concluded that:

Labor Code sections 202 and 203 apply when employees retire from their employment. We also conclude that McLean‟s decision to name the State of California as a defendant rather than the Department of Justice is not a basis for dismissing her suit.

When Are Final Wages Due?

For most California employees, final wages are due immediately upon termination (Labor Code section 201). It does not matter whether the employee is fired or laid off. If the employer is the moving party (i.e., the one to end the relationship) then it is a termination.

In contrast, California employees who quit their employment without notice must be paid within 72 hours of his last day of work(Labor Code section 202). There is an exception when an employee provides at least 72-hours notice. In that case, the final wages are due on the last day of employment.

There are some slightly different rules for:

Penalties for Failing to Timely Pay Final Wages

Employers willfully failing to timely pay final wages pay a penalty. (California Labor Code section 203). And don’t forget that “wages” includes accrued vacation or PTO (but not paid sick leave in most cases).

This “waiting time” penalty is calculated by multiplying the employee’s daily wage by the number of days until the employee is paid. There is a 30-day maximum on the waiting time penalties, but the penalty is imposed every day–not just every working day. There are a lot of cases where the penalty exceeds the actual wages owed. The penalties are almost mandatory unless an employer can show a good faith dispute that the wages were owed.

As the State of California just learned, employees must promptly receive their final wages. Employers cannot hold the wages hostage pending return of the employer’s keys or other equipment. If you have questions about California wage and hour issues, call an experienced employment attorney.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Service Advisors Exempt from FLSA

Encino Motorcars, LLC is an automobile dealership. Encino’s service advisors filed a lawsuit alleging that Encino violated the FLSA by failing to pay them overtime compensation when they worked more than 40 hours in a week. At issue in this case is whether the Department of Labor’s interpretation of the service advisor exemption is valid.

History of Service Advisors Exemption under the FLSA

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay over­time compensation to covered employees who work more than 40 hours in a given week. In 1966, Congress enacted an exemption from the overtime compensation requirement for “any salesman, parts-man, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automo­biles” at a covered dealership. Congress authorized the Department of Labor to promulgate necessary rules, regulations, or orders with respect to this new provision. The Department exercised that authority in 1970 and issued a regulation that defined “salesman” to mean “an employee who is employed for the purpose of and is primarily engaged in making sales or obtaining orders or contracts for sale of the vehicles . . . which the establishment is primarily engaged in selling.” 29 CFR §779.372(c)(1) (1971).

The regulation excluded service advisors, who sell repair and maintenance services but not vehicles, from the ex­emption. Several courts, however, rejected the Department’s conclusion that service advisors are not covered by the statutory exemption. In 1978, the Department issued an opinion letter departing from its previous position and stating that service advisors could be exempt under 29 U. S. C. §213(b)(10)(A). In 1987, the Department confirmed its new interpretation by amending its Field Operations Handbook to clarify that service advisors should be treated as exempt under the statute. In 2011, however, the Department issued a final rule that followed the original 1970 regulation and interpreted the statutory term “salesman” to mean only an employee who sells vehicles. 76 Fed. Reg. 18859. The Department gave little explanation for its deci­sion to abandon its decades-old practice of treating service advisors as exempt under §213(b)(10)(A).

Does the FLSA Apply to Service Advisors?

Encino argued that the FLSA overtime provisions do not apply because service advisors are covered by an exemption in §213(b)(10)(A).The District Court granted the motion, but the Ninth Circuit reversed in relevant part. Deferring under Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, to the interpretation set forth in the 2011 regulation, the court held that service advisors are not covered by the §213(b)(10)(A) exemption.

The Ninth Circuit held that section 213(b)(10)(A) must be construed without placing controlling weight on the Department’s 2011 regulation.

According to the court:

When an agency is authorized by Congress to issue regulations and promulgates a regulation interpreting a statute it enforces, the interpretation receives deference if the statute is ambiguous and the agency’s interpretation is reasonable. See Chevron, supra, at 842–844. When Congress authorizes an agency to proceed through notice-and-comment rulemaking, that procedure is a “very good indicator” that Congress intended the regulation to carry the force of law, so Chevron should apply. United States v. Mead Corp., 533 U. S. 218, 229–230. But Chevron deference is not warranted where the regulation is “procedurally defective”—that is, where the agency errs by failing to follow the correct procedures in issuing the regulation. 533 U. S., at 227.

One basic procedural requirement of administrative rulemaking is that an agency must give adequate reasons for its decisions. Where the agency has failed to provide even a minimal level of analysis, its action is arbitrary and capricious and so cannot carry the force of law. Agencies are free to change their existing policies, but in explaining its changed position, an agency must be cognizant that longstanding policies may have “engendered serious reliance interests that must be taken into account.” FCC v. Fox Television Sta­tions, Inc., 556 U. S. 502, 515. An “[u]nexplained inconsistency” in agency policy is “a reason for holding an interpretation to be an arbitrary and capricious change from agency practice,” National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. v. Brand X Internet Services, 545 U. S. 967, 981, and an arbitrary and capricious regulation of this sort re­ceives no Chevron deference.

Applying those principles, the Ninth Circuit determined that the 2011 regulation was issued without the reasoned explanation that was required in light of the Department’s change in position and the significant reliance interests position that service advisors are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements. Employers had negotiated and structured compensation plans against this background understanding. In light of this background, “the Department needed a more reasoned explanation for its decision to depart from its existing enforcement policy.” The Department instead said almost nothing. It did not analyze or explain why the statute should be interpreted to exempt dealership employees who sell vehicles but not dealership employees who sell services. “This lack of reasoned explication for a regulation that is inconsistent with the Department’s longstanding earlier position results in a rule that cannot carry the force of law, and so the regulation does not receive Chevron deference.”

This is not the first time the DOL has changed courses and reinterpreted the law. In this instance, the court found that the DOL’s failure to include a reasoned explanation regarding the change of course was sufficient to render the DOL’s interpretation void.

Meal and Lodging Credits in the Workplace

The Federal FLSA allows an employer to, under certain circumstances, count as wages “the reasonable cost … to the employer of furnishing such employee with board, lodging, or other facilities.” 29 U.S.C. § 203(m). The Department of Labor has just issued a new guidance document explaining the requirements for meal and lodging credits in the workplace under section 3(m) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as well as the proper method of accounting for this credit in calculating wages, with many examples involving home care workers.

Meal and Lodging Credits in the Workplace

The Q&A section answers such questions as:

What is a section 3(m) credit?

Under what circumstances may an employer claim the Section 3(m) credit for lodging?

What does it mean for lodging to be “regularly provided by the employer or similar employers”?

How do you determine if the employee “voluntarily accepted” the lodging?

What does is mean for lodging to be provided “in compliance with Federal, State, and Local Laws”?

What does it mean for an employee to receive the “primary benefit of the lodging” in the section 3(m) context?

When is housing “adequate” for purposes of whether an employer can claim a section 3(m) credit?How does an employer comply with the requirement to keep accurate records with regard to section 3(m)?

How does Section 3(m) apply if a live-in home care worker is a member of a union or subject to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA)?

How do you determine the amount of a section 3(m) credit?

What is the “reasonable cost” of the facilities?

And many more.

Employers who want to use meal and lodging credits in the workplace are encouraged to review the Q&A section and the Field Assistance Bulletin.

Employers in California should keep in mind that state and federal law are not the same with regard to meal and lodging credits in the workplace.  State regulations limit the amount of credit employers can use to offset minimum wage obligations, and there must be a written agreement between the employer and the employee.  Employers should also keep in mind that providing meals or lodging as part of the compensation could increase the employee’s regular rate of pay for overtime premium purposes.

If you have questions about the meals and lodging you receive from your employer, or if you provide meals and lodging to your employees as part of their compensation, speak with an employment attorney familiar with wage and hour issues as soon as practical.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Ramon, Concord, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Labor Commissioner to Enforce Local Minimum Wage Laws

I have represented scores of employees and employers before the California Labor Commissioner. Recently, with more and more cities and counties passing local ordinances raising the minimum wage for employees working within specific cities, the Labor Commissioner has sometimes taken the position that it is authorized to enforce local minimum wage laws.  I’ve spent a great deal of time reviewing the minimum wage ordinances passed in Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco and Emeryville, and to my knowledge none of the ordinances grant the Labor Commissioner authority to enforce those laws.  More importantly, the California legislature did not give the Labor Commissioner the power to enforce local minimum wage laws.

Labor Commissioner to Enforce Local Minimum Wage Laws

AB 970, which becomes effective on January 1, 2016, will now allow the Labor Commissioner to enforce local minimum wage laws.  AB 970 amends several Labor Code sections, including Labor Code section 558 (c), which will now state:

In a jurisdiction where a local entity has the legal authority to issue a citation against an employer for a violation of any applicable local overtime law, the Labor Commissioner, pursuant to a request from the local entity, may issue a citation against an employer for a violation of any applicable local overtime law if the local entity has not cited the employer for the same violation. If the Labor Commissioner issues a citation, the local entity shall not cite the employer for the same violation.

Labor Code section 1197 will now read:

The minimum wage for employees fixed by the commission or by any applicable state or local law, is the minimum wage to be paid to employees, and the payment of a lower wage than the minimum so fixed is unlawful. This section does not change the applicability of local minimum wage laws to any entity.

The law does not require the Labor Commissioner to enforce the minimum wage laws, but it gives them the authority to do so if it chooses.  Additionally, the law prohibits local agencies and the Labor Commission from issuing citations against the same employer for the same violations.  Employers don’t have to worry that a city will cite them and then the Labor Commissioner will cite them for the same violation.  Of course, the Labor Commissioner can cite the employer for other violations outside the local government’s authority.

From my experience, the local agencies are not yet prepared to enforce the local minimum wage laws.  With the recent rise of local minimum wage laws, it is unclear how easily an already burdened Labor Commissioner will be able to enforce local minimum wage laws.  These new laws will give employees a new way to enforce local minimum wage laws.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Ramon, Concord, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.