In July 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed the BRAVE Act, a wide-ranging piece of legislation including a number of provisions aimed at increasing the support and services available to veterans and their families. Among other things, the act provides increased tax relief and access to educational programs and other resources to veterans. The BRAVE Act also updates state law with regard to the time off provided to veterans on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
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.
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.
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.
A bill just passed by the Massachusetts House and Senate, with uncharacteristic speed and bipartisan support, has been touted as a “grand bargain,” meant to circumvent political wrangling over several contentious ballot questions slated to be put before the voters this fall. The wide-ranging bill establishes paid family and medical leave, raises the minimum wage, and eliminates premium Sunday pay, among other things. The bill now goes to Governor Baker, who is expected to sign the measure into law. Continue Reading Massachusetts Legislators’ “Grand Bargain” Establishes Paid Medical Leave and Increases Minimum Wage
The U.S. Department of Labor recently initiated a nationwide pilot program referred to as the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (“PAID”) program. The stated purpose of the program is to facilitate resolution of potential overtime and minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The expectation is that FLSA claims will resolve more expeditiously and without litigation thus improving employer compliance with wage and hour laws and getting back wages to employees more quickly.
This week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that unused accrued sick time does not constitute “wages” that must be paid upon termination under the Massachusetts Wage Act. This decision, Mui v. Massachusetts Port Authority, resolves a previously unsettled question in Massachusetts wage and hour law.
Last week, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on whether interns are “employees” covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions. In the updated guidance, the DOL has adopted the “primary beneficiary test,” first applied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2015, and used by a growing number of courts in recent years.
One of the key provisions of the new Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (which goes into effect on July 1, 2018) is that it prohibits employers from requiring prospective employees to disclose their salary history. The reasoning behind this provision is as follows: if employers are allowed to ask applicants about their salary history, and base compensation on the answers to those questions, applicants who have been on the receiving end of discriminatory pay practices in the past will continue to be hampered by past pay inequity throughout their careers. If employers cannot base pay on what an applicant made previously, so the thinking goes, employers will have to set pay based on what the job is worth.
The winter season presents employers with many weather related issues ranging from obligations to keep outdoor areas safe to deciding whether to close the business for all or part of the day. Closing the business due to inclement weather raises pay issues – what pay are employees entitled to when the business closes? It depends, in part, whether the employee is considered exempt or non-exempt and whether, the employee is paid on a salary basis. Continue Reading Winter Weather and Employee Challenges – To Pay or Not to Pay?