We recently prepared a post for our friends at www.jurisbrewdence.com, who write about interesting issues in the craft beer industry (yeah we know, rough life right?). Our post was about a recent decision from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, which brought some clarity to the issue of which employees may participate in employee tip pools. As you may recall, we previously discussed employee tip pools, which can be risky and problematic, particularly when deciding which employees will share in the pooled tips.
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Many employers treat their sales employees as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and minimum wage requirements. Regardless of whether they pay them a salary, commissions, or some combination of both, employers often assume that all salespersons are exempt and not entitled to overtime. Depending on the circumstances, this assumption can be problematic and costly.
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On Monday, January 27, 2014, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a group of unionized steel workers at U.S. Steel Corporation did not need to be compensated for the time they spent “donning and doffing” safety gear before and after work. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority in Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp., Case No. 12-417 (Jan. 27, 2014), a case he described as requiring the Court to determine the meaning of the phrase “changing clothes” under section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Although section 203(o) applies only to employers with collective bargaining agreements, certain aspects of the decision could have broader implications in “hours worked” cases under the FLSA.
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Recently, Adam R. Long, a Member in McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC’s Labor and Employment Law Group prepared a White Paper regarding Wage and Hour Compliance Priorities for 2014.

Employers should conduct regular and comprehensive wage and hour audits that examine all facets of the employer’s pay practices to ensure compliance with the myriad wage and hour laws. That said, we recognize that HR professionals, in-house counsel, and senior management have very limited time and resources to devote to wage and hour compliance. This complimentary white paper discusses specific areas where employers should focus their wage and hour compliance efforts in 2014.
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Summer has finally arrived. While many of us will soon become consumed with pool parties, backyard barbeques, and well-deserved vacations, a new crop of summer interns is just beginning their first endeavor in the working world with the hope of making a lasting impression on prospective employers in their chosen fields.

However, it is becoming an increasingly risky proposition for employers to take on unpaid interns. In fact, in just the past few days, Warner Music Group, Atlantic Records, and media giant Condé Nast have all been sued by former interns who claim that they should have been compensated for their internships.
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In 2011, the Third Circuit held that a pre-certification offer of judgment made by a defendant-employer to an individual plaintiff would not require dismissal of the plaintiff’s entire FLSA collective action, even if the offer of judgment would fully satisfy the plaintiff’s own individual claims. Before this decision, employers increasingly had used offers of judgment made pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to “pick off” individual plaintiffs and defeat FLSA collective actions early in the litigation before they could be certified. The Third Circuit held that even though an offer of complete relief could moot the plaintiff’s individual claims (regardless of whether the offer was accepted), it would not defeat the broader FLSA collective action. In June 2012, the Supreme Court agreed to review the Third Circuit’s decision on this issue.
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As in most types of class-based litigation, plaintiffs in FLSA collective actions typically seek certification of as broad a class as possible. As the number of potential class members grows, so does the size of the employer’s potential liability and the plaintiffs’ leverage to obtain a large and lucrative settlement. One way to broaden the class size is to include employees of the employer’s sister companies in the class, under the theory that the sister companies’ parent company qualifies as the plaintiffs’ “joint employer.”

In the context of an FLSA collective action, the Third Circuit recently considered and established the test to be used to determine whether a parent company qualifies as the “joint employer” of its subsidiaries’ employees under the FLSA.
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More and more employers are recognizing what employment attorneys have long known. The most prevalent type of employment discrimination claim is not one based on race, sex, religion, disability or age. Rather, it is one alleging unlawful retaliation. In fact, in 2010, for the first time ever, retaliation claims surpassed race discrimination claims to become the most common type of claim filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This trend is not expected to end anytime soon.

Just before the holidays, the United States Department of Labor released three new fact sheets offering further guidance to employers on the topic of retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).
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