For those who thought the Trump DOL would back off the increased enforcement efforts of the Obama administration, last week’s news was not all good. The U.S. Department of Labor just announced that the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recovered a record $304 million in wages owed to workers in Fiscal Year 2018. WHD also set a new record for compliance assistance events in FY 2018, holding 3,643 outreach events – including on the ground presentations and trainings – targeted to educate employers about their legal responsibilities regarding payment of wages.
On October 4, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released preliminary data on sexual harassment claims for FY 2018, which ended on September 30, 2018. The document, entitled “What You Should Know: EEOC Leads the Way in Preventing Workplace Harassment” summarizes the enforcement and prevention actions taken by the EEOC in the almost two years since the agency released the report of its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace in June 2016.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has issued a new notice to be issued to applicants and employees who will be subject to background checks. Employers should begin using the new notice, entitled “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” (“FCRA”) immediately.
During the month of September, the Department of Labor will be holding a series of “Listening Sessions” throughout the country in order to hear public comments about planned changes to the overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
On this blog, we have followed the long and winding path of the years-long efforts to update the FLSA’s overtime rules (see our posts on the subject here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). To recap, in 2014, the Obama Administration set out to overhaul the overtime rules, and, after nearly two years, issued a set of final regulations, which were to have gone into effect on December 1, 2016. Among other things, these regulations would have increased the minimum salary threshold for exempt workers from $455 per week to $913. This change would have dramatically increased the number of workers who would be classified as non-exempt, and therefore eligible to earn overtime pay. However, after President Trump’s election, and just days before the regulations were to take effect, a federal court issued an injunction halting the changes. After almost a year of litigation and uncertainty, the Trump Administration finally abandoned the Obama Administration’s regulations and went back to the drawing board and started the entire rulemaking process over from scratch.
Reality-TV-Star-Turned-White-House-Staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman recently grabbed headlines with her tell-all book about her short but dramatic tenure in the West Wing. Some of the most eyebrow-raising revelations came from the secret audio recordings she made of Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her in the Situation Room and of President Trump telling her, in the Oval Office, that he didn’t know she had been let go. Omarosa told Chuck Todd, of NBC’s “Meet The Press,” why she made the recordings: “If I didn’t have these recordings, no one in America would believe me. No one. So, I protected myself, and I’m going to tell you I’m so glad I did.”
Perusing LinkedIn, as I often do over morning coffee, I saw this plea on one of the human resources groups I follow. Not having the time to read it carefully, I put it aside in my “fodder for future blog posts” folder. Like most of the people who responded quickly with advice for the human resource professional who sought help from her colleagues, my first thought was “big red flag.” How can a company operate with all leaders and no workers, with all executives and no support staff? The reality is that very few businesses of any size can realistically classify all of its workers as exempt.
When the Governor signed a recent appropriations bill passed by the House and the Senate during the last days of the most recent legislative session, the bill contained a version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The UTSA version in the proposed legislation was buried deep within the appropriations bill, which was not entirely surprising. Such a proposal, entitled “Chapter 93L,” has been held out previously as part of a compromise to proposed non-compete reform, which was also enacted within the same appropriations bill.
The currently pending Senate proposal S.2625 – so-called non-compete “reform” legislation – was filed on Monday, July 23, 2018, in the Massachusetts Senate. It is not a stand-alone piece of legislation, but instead is buried deep within a $600 million appropriations bill which was issued from the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It would change drastically the legal landscape for enforcement of non-compete agrees. For example, it would require salary payments to the ex-employee during the non-compete period. It would also outlaw enforcement of a non-compete contract where an employee has been laid off without cause. It is a highly controversial piece of legislation which has been debated, in various iterations, for nearly a decade.
To read my recent op-ed published in the Boston Business Journal on this topic, click here.
On March 5, 2018 I reported that the EEOC announced a settlement in its first lawsuit alleging that parental leave policies which granted more rights to mothers discriminated against new fathers. Details on the lawsuit’s allegations can be found here. The EEOC’s press release was devoid of details about the terms of the settlement. On July 17, the details became public, and they are likely to send shock waves through HR departments and C suites. Continue Reading Estee Lauder Agrees to Pay $1.1 Million to Settle Discrimination Suit Filed by EEOC on Behalf of New Dads
It took barely 24 hours before what is believed to be the first lawsuit under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (“MEPA”) to be filed. On Monday morning, July 2, suit was filed on behalf of Elizabeth Rowe, principal flautist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in Suffolk County Superior Court. Rowe was hired for the role by the BSO in 2004, and the lawsuit claims that she has asked for years to be paid the same as the principal oboe player, a male. She alleges that the role of principal oboe is the one most comparable to her position and that paying her some $70,000 less per year amounts to a violation of MEPA.