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December 2014 Archives

Zannikos v Oil Inspections USA: Highly Compensated Employees and the FLSA

Recently, there has been a surge in FLSA litigation. Employees will often join in a suit challenging their status as exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA. A thorough knowledge of how employees are required to be compensated in accordance with the FLSA is an incredible cost saving asset for today's employer. An illustrative and helpful case in this area is Zannikos v. Oil Inspections. In 2012, Vasilios Zannikos, on behalf of all similarly situated employees, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas against his employer, Oil Inspections U.S.A. He alleged his employer failed to pay him overtime wages pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Oil Inspections U.S.A. specializes in loss control operations in connection with oil cargo transfers. The company's primary function is to oversee and monitor transfers of oil between containers, to ensure it was transferred in accordance with the specifications of their customers. Zannikos was employed as a marine superintendent. This job required the Plaintiffs to monitor and observe oil transfer operations, ensuring they were performed accurately, legally and safely. Plaintiffs served as quality control by inspecting loading and discharge equipment, identifying problems with equipment, safety or calibration, and then recommending remedies to the customers or Oil Inspections. Oil Inspections responded to this suit by filing for summary judgment, alleging marine superintendents were exempt from the requirements of the FLSA because their duties were administrative and they were highly compensated employees.

Lessons from Wal-Mart: The Importance of Keeping Accurate Employee Records

For decades, Wal-Mart has been an enormously successful, if not controversial, corporation. Wal-Mart has been lauded for their efficiency and lasting profitability. However, due to poor employee policies and payroll record keeping, the Wal-Mart has been besieged with costly employment lawsuits claiming the company has failed to compensate employees in accordance with state and federal laws.

Integrity Employment Solutions v. Busk: Bringing Certainty to Employers

On Tuesday December 9, 2014, businesses everywhere were provided with a valuable tool in defending themselves from FLSA litigation. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a staffing agency was not required to pay workers at Amazon Warehouses for the time they spent waiting to go through a security checkpoint at the end of their shifts.[1] The Plaintiffs alleged this process could take up to twenty five minutes. However, Kelly Cheeseman, the spokesperson for Amazon stated these allegations were entirely untrue, and Amazon has a global process to ensure the screenings do not take longer than ninety seconds.[2] The workers were hired by a third party agency, Independent Employment, to retrieve and package inventory for shipment at Amazon warehouses. In order to combat employee theft, workerswere required to undergo a security screening at the end of the workday. These kinds of checks are common among retailers, as the industry loses an estimated $16 billion annually from theft.[3]

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