Posts tagged "Employment Law"

When workers are misclassified

As a Pennsylvania small business owner, it may be your responsibility to classify your employees correctly with regard to whether they are actual employees or independent contractors. Classifying your employees appropriately from the outset is critical, because there are some very important distinctions between the two types of workers, and inaccurately claiming that an employee is an independent contractor can land you in some serious hot water.

Expansion of the Joint Employer-NLRB Browning-Ferris Decision

At the end of August, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) handed down a decision, departing dramatically from past precedent, ruling that companies may be held liable for labor violations conducted by their contractors and subject to joint collective bargaining agreements. This decision held that waste management company, Browning-Ferris Industries, who hired LeadPoint Staffing, to supply employees to a one of its recycling centers, is a joint employer and required to participate in collective bargaining along with LeadPoint.

Zannikos and the Fifth Circuit: Highly Compensated Oil Workers May be Exempt from the FLSA

Over the winter, our firm wrote an article about various FLSA exemptions and used the case of Zannikos v. Oil Inspections to illustrate the application of the highly compensated employee exemption. To summarize, 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. Zannikos was employed as a marine superintendent. This job required the Plaintiff 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 some of their duties were administrative and they were highly compensated employees. Both parties moved for summary judgment. On January 30, 2014, the District Court entered an order that Vasilios Zannikos was exempt from the FLSA due to the fact he was highly compensated, however the court did not find marine superintendents to be administrative employees. Both parties filed appeals and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this ruling. Zannikos v. Oil Inspections (U.S.A.), Inc., 14-20253, 2015 WL 1379882, at *1 (5th Cir. Mar. 27, 2015).

The New Overtime: Proposed Rules from the Department of Labor

On July 6, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a new set of requirements for workers who may receive overtime wages. The proposed rule expands the class of overtime eligible employees. The DOL's proposed rules are in direct response to President Obama's executive request to review and revise the current overtime regulations, which currently prevent certain classes of salaried workers from receiving overtime compensation. Specifically, Obama asked the DOL to reevaluate the salary threshold at which employers are no longer obligated to pay employees overtime.

King v. Burwell: Affirming the Affordable Care Act

The controversial Affordable Care has caused debate and litigation since it was signed by the President in 2010. The Affordable Care Act embodies three reforms to overhaul the American healthcare system. First, the Act required guaranteed issue and community rating which requires health insurance providers to offer health insurance to offer health insurance policies to everyone within a given territory, without medical underwriting. Second, the Act issued a national mandate requiring individuals to maintain health insurance coverage, or pay a fine to the IRS. Lastly, the Act seeks to make healthcare more affordable through giving refundable tax credits to individuals with household incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line. The Act also requires the creation of an "Exchange" in each state which functions as a marketplace which allows individuals to shop for different insurance plans. The Act states that the federal government will establish an exchange if a state does not. The Act supplies that tax credits shall be allowed for any applicable tax payer, but only if the taxpayer has enrolled in an insurance plan through an exchange established by a state. An IRS regulation interprets that the language as making tax credits available on an exchange regardless of whether the exchange is established by a state or HHS. The ambiguities within the Act's language and the IRS's regulation caused confusion.

Paid Sick Leave: New Duties for Employers

In a current wave of legislation, states and cities across the country are passing laws and ordinances granting workers paid sick leave. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California and Washington have passed state wide laws permitting leave. Cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and nine New Jersey municipalities have enacted paid sick leave laws. Even many private companies, such as Chipotle have begun to enact paid sick leave policies for all types of workers. While some view these laws as a large step forward for American employees, others feel as though government is overstepping its bounds by dictating how employers treat employees. In response to many city ordinances granting this leave, some states have adopted preemption laws which prohibit localities from passing such laws.

FLSA: Employers, the Courts and Private Settlements

No matter how an employer choses to handle an FLSA complaint, it is important to know that the FLSA requires the Department of Labor to supervise all potential violation settlements. This means that employees who receive severance packages or conditioned settlement agreements that purport to release all employment-related claims, may have not effectively released all of their claims under the FLSA.

Starting or running a business? Do not ignore these legal issues.

Startups and businesses are great opportunities for entrepreneurs to achieve their vision. In the pursuit of finding and retaining talented employees, many of these businesses overlook several "hidden" legal issues which can be detrimental to long profitability and viability.

Franchises and Joint Employers

The nationally recognized companies McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, 7-Eleven, Hampton Inn and Subway have built success by franchising their business locations. Individuals and businesses buy the rights and pay royalties to open up a franchise, and in turn share in the benefits of established brand recognition and proven business model. Traditionally, when a franchise location encountered legal trouble, only the licensee of that franchise could be held liable. However, a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision issued in December 2014 has demonstrated the potential to change where the liability lies between a corporation and its franchisees.