Pittsburgh Employment Law Blog

Ministries aren't usually exempt from overtime laws

There is a fine line drawn between businesses and ministries. When it comes to employee pay and compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), churches and ministries must be especially careful because of the nuances in the law that mean that certain things apply to the ministries and others might not.

One of the consistent aspects of the FLSA is overtime. Ministries of all sorts that have paid employees are required to pay overtime to employees who meet specific requirements. First, the person must not be an exempt employee. Second, the employee must work at least 40 hours per week. If both of those requirements are met, the employee is due 1.5 times their regular hourly wage.

Documentation and training can help protect your business

Employers have to protect their workers and their company. This can sometimes be a difficult line to walk because what is best for the company might not be best for the workers, and what is best for the workers might not be best for the business. When either of these occur, you have to make decisions based on the current facts. If there are negative employment factors that are coming into the picture, you have to be prepared to protect the business from claims that you violated employment laws.

One of the most important things that you can do is to document everything related to employees. Try to think about what points a disgruntled employee might make against your company. Take steps to ensure that there aren't any factors that the employee can use to make a case. Being able to show your side of what happened can help greatly.

How to prevent claims of retaliation

As an employer, you want to avoid as many employee claims as possible. You may be taking steps to prevent claims about harassment, but what about retaliation? According to the EEOC, retaliation is the most common basis for claims of discrimination in federal jobs.

Due to the fact that retaliation is the reason many employees file claims against their employers, it is in your best interest to avoid retaliating against your employees. First, you must fully understand what constitutes retaliation under the law.

Plan employee terminations carefully to protect your company

Employment litigation is a serious matter for any small business. When you have a current or former employee who is making claims against your company, it can cast a negative light on the business even if you didn't do anything wrong. One area where you have to be especially careful is when you have to terminate someone. This event brings up very negative feelings for the person who is being let go.

Protecting your company when you fire an employee starts with planning the termination meeting. One thing that can help you is to have a witness in the room when you give the worker the news. You should also ensure that the reasons for the termination are well-documented.

Department of Labor issues opinion on gig worker classification

The United States Department of Labor issued an important opinion recently about who is considered an employee of a company. The question the department was answering was whether or not workers in the gig economy qualify for the protections that the Fair Labor Standards Act provides to employees. The DOL has stated that in a letter that gig workers are contractors, so they don't qualify for the same protections as employees.

The question came up when a lawyer who worked for a cleaning company sought clarification on how the company's gig workers should be classified. This letter affects delivery drivers for companies like Instacart and Shipt, as well as rideshare drivers for companies like Lyft and Uber. Even individuals who manage apartments on Airbnb are impacted by the statement.

Wage complaints must be handled carefully

One thing that all employers must do is ensure that employees always get their correct pay. Issues with pay will almost always cause problems with an employee. Some might understand when there is an error as long as it's corrected immediately, but others won't be so understanding. Business owners should have plans in place in case there is ever an issue over employee payroll. This may help reduce the likelihood that your company will face adverse legal actions.

If you find out that your business has been accused of wage improprieties, you must take action immediately to remedy the situation or defend your actions. These cases are taken very seriously, so don't think that you can just leave it alone in the hopes that it will go away. It isn't likely that this will happen.

Protecting your company in a co-employment arrangement

Employees are a core part of many businesses. In some cases, it is more feasible to hire temporary workers on a long-term basis.

In such cases, many companies turn to staffing agencies. In order to ensure the protection and proper order of such co-employment relationships, business owners should consider a few important things.

Address all forms of discrimination in the workplace

It is up to employers to ensure that their employees don't have to deal with discrimination of any sort. When there are claims of discrimination, they have to be handled immediately or they can spiral out of control. One of the most effective ways to ensure that your company is protected is to set very strict standards regarding discrimination.

All employers should have clear guidance about what is considered discrimination in the workplace. Employees in supervisory positions should be trained on the various types of discrimination that can occur, including direct and indirect.

Protect your company from employment litigation

Having to deal with legal matters is often inevitable when you have a variety of employees working for you.

It is imperative that you take steps to help prevent litigation from plaguing your company. The method you use depends on the specifics of your company's practices. For example, if you have employees, you have to ensure that their legal rights are being respected, while you don't have quite as much to worry about when you are working with independent contractors. At the same time, you need to make sure that you classify the people you hire correctly, or that can also lead to problems!

Labor laws and worker classifications

Some companies have employees and independent contractors working for them. There are specific differences between these two classifications that are important because employers who don't follow the divisions can actually misclassify individuals, which is a very serious matter.

One of the reasons that the classification of workers is so important is because of taxes. When a person is considered an employee, the employer takes specific deductions out of the paycheck. This includes Social Security, Medicare and income taxes for federal, state and local withholding. In the case of an independent contractor, there aren't any taxes withheld. Additionally, independent contractors don't' have the same protections of labor and employment laws that employees have.