HR Legalist

HR Legalist

Employment Law Updates
& Best Practices for Employers

Avoid Doubling FLSA Overtime Damages with Proper Analysis and Documentation

Posted in Fair Labor Standards Act, Overtime, Wage & Hour

Benjamin Franklin once advised that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This axiom is still relevant today, especially in the context of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As originally written, the FLSA mandated that employees prevailing in minimum wage or overtime lawsuits were automatically entitled liquidated damages equal to their unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation, thereby doubling any such award. With the subsequent passage of the Portal-to-Portal Act, Congress gave employers a way to avoid liquidated damages if the employer acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds for believing they were in compliance with the FLSA. Thus, with a little preventative pay classification analysis and documentation, an employer may be able to reduce its potential FLSA liability by half.

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Confidentiality and Sexual Harassment Claims – Will New Laws Limit Settlement Agreement Language?

Posted in General Labor and Employment News and Updates, Harassment


In the recent wave of sexual harassment cases against public figures, it has come to light that women were paid large sums of money to keep their harassment allegations private, thus allowing their harassers to continue their inappropriate behavior.  Prominent recent examples of harassers protected by confidentiality clauses include Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and Bill Cosby.  This has caused some commentators to question whether confidentiality provisions should be enforceable in sexual harassment cases.  Legislators in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York have introduced or are discussing the possibility of introducing legislation that would prevent the enforcement of such provisions. Continue Reading

Labor Law Update: Will Employers be Thankful for the NLRB’s new General Counsel?

Posted in General Labor and Employment News and Updates, Labor Relations, NLRB

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) enforces and interprets the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which ensures the rights of employees to engage in collective bargaining and other union-related activities.  During the Obama administration, NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin, Jr. aggressively advocated for labor-friendly positions, and the Democratic-majority Board often agreed.  But this Thanksgiving season, two new board members and a new General Counsel have set the table for changes that could make things a little easier for employers. Continue Reading

How the EEOC is Cracking Down on Equal Pay Act Violations in the Food Service Industry

Posted in Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

With the prevalence of gender discrimination lawsuits in the media and the increasing number of equal pay laws nationwide, employers in the food services industry would be wise to review their hiring and payroll practices as soon as possible to ensure that they are not unlawfully contributing to the gender pay gap, or otherwise retaliating against any employee who reports issues regarding pay disparity.

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New Jersey Update: What Phil Murphy’s Election Could Mean for Employers and Employees

Posted in Discrimination, Employee Leave Management, Government, Medical Marijuana, Minimum Wage, New Jersey Law, Wage & Hour

Yesterday, Democrat Phil Murphy won the race for New Jersey governor, easily defeating Republican Kim Guadagno. Democrats also retained their majorities in both the state Senate and Assembly.  When Murphy is sworn in next January, he will have the opportunity to change laws impacting the workplace.  Here are some areas for employers and employees in the Garden State to keep an eye on:

Raising the Minimum Wage

Murphy has promised to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Last year, Democratic legislators introduced a bill that would have gradually increased New Jersey’s minimum wage from $8.38 to $15 per hour over a four-year period (as summarized by HR Legalist here).  Last summer, Governor Christie vetoed that bill.  With Murphy in the statehouse, the measure could be back on the table, and New Jersey could join California, New York, and the District of Columbia in making the move to $15 per hour. Continue Reading

Employer-Mandated Fingerprinting May be Religious Discrimination

Posted in Civil Rights, Discrimination, Reasonable Accommodation, Religious Discrimination, Retaliation, Terminations, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Workplace Policies

Sincerely believing that fingerprinting is “the mark of the devil” may be enough to sue your employer for religious discrimination and retaliation in federal district court.

On Monday, October 30th, Western District of Pennsylvania Judge Kim R. Gibson issued an Order declining to dismiss such a lawsuit at the initial, pleadings stage of litigation. The Plaintiff, Altoona school bus driver and devout Christian Bonnie F. Kaite, contends that she was unlawfully discharged for refusing to be fingerprinted in connection with a state-mandated background check, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”). Continue Reading

A Wage and Hour Time Bomb: Case Highlights the Scope of FLSA’s “Fluctuating Workweek” Method for Paying Overtime

Posted in Fair Labor Standards Act, Overtime, Wage & Hour

There are still quite a few unsettled questions regarding the details of how overtime compensation must be calculated and paid to employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Within these grey areas, collective and class actions thrive. The recently approved multi-million dollar settlement agreement in Acevedo v. BrightView Landscapes, LLC,[1] a hybrid collective/class action covering 27 states, illustrates how compensation plans not specifically endorsed by established case law or the Department of Labor’s (DOL) guidance on overtime compensation can lead to exposure for employers. Continue Reading

What #MeToo Means for Employers: Workplace Harassment in the Age of Awareness

Posted in Civil Rights, Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Harassment, Retaliation, Social Media, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Workplace Investigations, Workplace Policies

This past Sunday, actress Alyssa Milano posted the following message on Twitter:

Me too. Suggested by a friend: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ As a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Since Ms. Milano’s original tweet, the hashtag #MeToo has been trending across multiple online platforms, with some users also posting about their own experiences. According to some estimates, over half a million people had posted on the topic by midday Monday.  This follows news of former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s harassment of women over the course of several decades. Continue Reading

Feats of Strength: EEOC sues CSX for Employee Strength Tests as Gender Discrimination Under Title VII

Posted in Civil Rights, Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Government, Hiring, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Workplace Policies

The EEOC recently filed suit against CSX Transportation, Inc. (“CSX”) in Federal Court in West Virginia, on behalf of a nationwide class of female employees.[1]  In the suit, the EEOC alleges that CSX’s policy of requiring employees and job applicants to pass certain physical strength tests in order to be eligible for certain positions has a disparate impact on women, and is therefore illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.   Continue Reading