Category: Business & Professions Code Violations

Breaking Down New FLSA Regulations—What Does it Mean?

Every employee should know what their rights are, especially when it comes to their wages and salary. The federal government just released new proposed regulations that will make more than 5 million employees eligible for overtime pay. So, starting from the beginning, who creates these regulations? Why is overtime a good thing? How will this affect my pay?

The country’s labor and employment laws are governed by the United States Department of Labor, a part of the federal government. Within the US Department of Labor, there are various divisions that focus on particular parts of labor laws. For today’s discussion, we’ll use the WHD as an example. The WHD stands for the Wage and Hour Division, and their governing doctrine or act is the FLSA (Fair Labor and Standards Act).

The WHD and FLSA establishes national minimum wage rates, overtime regulations, etc. States must first abide by the FLSA and then can implement any other state wide regulations on top of the national law. (i.e. state minimum wages can be higher than the national minimum wage).

In California, we have our own state department of labor, aptly named the California Department of Industrial Relations. Within the CA DIR, wage and hour regulations are enforced by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (known commonly as the Labor Commissioner). Their governing doctrine or act is the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders. The Wage Orders outline similar regulations as the FLSA but with California labor law.

Now that the background is out of the way, let’s discuss the regulation changes that the FLSA will enact which that will lead to changes on the state level as well. In the workforce, there are two main classifications for wage earners: hourly, non-exempt or salary, exempt. The former is paid on an hourly basis and is eligible to get paid overtime for any hours worked over eight in a day and/or forty in a week.

An employee’s job description has to meet a duties test, among other things, to determine whether or not they are exempt from overtime (and therefore on a salary). If the employee meets that exemption, then the employee must also be paid a minimum threshold for salaried employees; in California, it’s approximately $37,000 per year and nationally, it was $23,660. Last week, this all changed.

On Monday, June 29, 2015, the WHD released a new proposal to amend the FLSA and increase the base salary requirement for exempt employees. The requirement could jump from $23,660 to as much as $50,440. So what does this mean?

If you a salaried, exempt worker, it could mean a couple of outcomes. First, you might be reclassified into being a non-exempt worker, which means you are eligible for overtime. So for all of you salaried workers out there that were working more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours in a day and not receiving overtime because you were exempt, you may be getting paid your extra hours worked. The other scenario is that you stay exempt, but are given a raise to meet the threshold—in California, that maybe close to a $13,000 raise! Almost five million workers can be affected as a result of this proposal.

A Whole New Meaning to Swabbing the Poop Deck–Genetic Non-Discrimination Act Violation

Georgia storage company, Atlas Logistics Group asked employees to swab—then got sued. An employee (or possibly employees) for the company began “habitually defecating” in their Atlanta warehouse. Atlas attempted to figure out who it was, but eventually got slapped with a hefty price tag for their methods.

Atlas had some employees undergo a cheek swap so that they could compare DNA samples to that found in the excrement. The samples were sent to a laboratory where technicians worked to locate the employee in question. What the company neglected to realize, however, was that gathering an employee’s DNA for analysis violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or more fondly known as “GINA.”

Two employees, Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds, took offense to their DNA samples being tested. Though they did not match the DNA of the fecal matter around the warehouse, Lowe and Reynolds filed suit against the employers for requesting their genetic information. The company contested the facts of Lowe and Reynolds’ allegations; they argued that “genetic information” is defined as “information related to an individual’s propensity for disease.”

The court sided with the plaintiffs stating that requesting the swabs was, in fact, requesting genetic information that is protected by federal law. At trial, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $2.25 million. $1.75 million of that total was for punitive damages.

Source: Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds v. Atlas Logistics Group; ohioemployerlawblog.com

When Your Employer is Watching Your Every Move – Literally

Myrna Arias was a sales executive in Bakersfield for a money transfer service called Intermex. Upon working for the company Arias was issued a company iPhone. The company required employees to download a particular clock in/clock out application loaded on the phone that became the center of Arias’ issues with the company.

When Arias inquired about the app, her boss admitted that the application still tracked the employees’ whereabouts through GPS tracking even after the employees “clocked out.” The boss, John Stubits, bragged that he knew other details about Arias’ whereabouts and habits when she was not working (i.e. he “knew how fast she was driving specific moments”). Arias and other co-workers expressed their discomfort at being tracked 24 hours a day, especially when she was not working.

Arias uninstalled the app after she told Stubits she believed it to be illegal. Stubits’ reply to his employee’s concern was that she “should tolerate the illegal intrusion…” After she uninstalled the app, she was terminated. She met all quotas and had no performance issues, so the application issue was on the forefront of her termination.

After the termination, Arias filed a lawsuit for invasion of privacy, retaliation, and unfair business practices. She is seeking in excess of $500,000 for damages and back pay for being monitored on her days off. According to the suit, “her manager made it clear that he was using the program to continuously monitor her, during company as well as personal time.”

Source: arstechnica.com

Image Source: Apple

Violent Jobs: Police Officers, Boxers…Healthcare Workers?

In 2009, an emergency room nurse at the Ventura County Medical Center encountered a violent and frightening patient who was only subdued after an equally violent counter. Around 2am, a man entered the ER, brandishing a pair of scissors as a weapon. He was naked and drunk, covered in blood. He confronted and laughed at two nurses, then chased them around the department.

In order to arrest the attacker, two police officers and to use a Taser against him. The man finally fell after three zaps. After the violent incident, one of the nurses involved kept count every time a patient got violent, or even threatened a hospital worker. The count was astonishing; on average, medical personnel were attacked at least one to two times a day.

This medical center is not unique in its findings. Hospital healthcare workers are often confronted with violent behavior, assaults, and threats against them from patients. The Labor Code seeks to mitigate these occurrences, with a new addition found in Labor Code §6401.8.

As per  code, hospitals must implements a workplace violence prevention plan to protect personnel from “aggressive and violent behavior.” These plans must be realized by July 1, 2016. Plans must include annual educational training for personnel, resources for employees who are coping from violent incidents, and a system of responding to incidents.

By January 1, 2017, hospital divisions must “in a manner that protects patient and employee confidentiality, shall post a report on its Internet Web site containing information regarding violent incidents at the hospitals, that includes, but is not limited to, the total number of reports, and which specific hospitals filed reports…”

Source: California Labor Code §6401.8 & LA Times

It’s the Circle of Wrongful Termination

The Disney Corporation is famous for their lavish, daily productions that happen in their parks around the world. Their animatronics are impressively advanced, their floats are decked out in color and sparkle, and their “cast members” are dressed incredibly detailed costumes. What happens to those who try to disrupt Disney’s mechanized and methodical shows?

At Walt Disney World in Florida, summer rain is not an uncommon thing. One day in June, it rained on some performer’s costumes that were being stored outside. The costumes had been worn recently, so they still were covered in the performers’ sweat and bodily fluids. The costumes were brought inside to save them from the rain. They were set down on top of and leaning against unitards and other costume pieces for other performers set to dance in “The Festival of the Lion King Show.”

When the Lion King performers retrieved their unitards for the evening show, they discovered their costumes had been dirtied by the other garments. The three male performers approached management and asked for new unitards. Management did not comply with their requests, but rather asked them to wear the soiled costumes “for the sake of the show.” The dancers refused, stating it was unsanitary, unhealthy, and not safe to do so. The show was canceled as a result, and later, the dancers were terminated.

The union that represents the cast members, Teamsters Local 385, worked with the former employees in their arbitration process. A federal arbitrator sided with the employees, ordering Disney to rehire the performers and compensate back pay owed to them for being out of work.

An addendum has been added to the employees’ union rights stating “all costume pieces will receive a minimum of 12 hours of drying and sanitation between performances.”

Source: News 13 Orlando News