Wyatt Employment Law Report


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Texas Judge Blocks Overtime Rule

By: Sharon Gold

In September, 21 states and numerous business groups sued the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in a Texas Federal Court attacking the DOL’s Final Rule that raised the salary minimum for workers to be exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The states filed a motion for preliminary injunction asking the judge to enjoin enforcement of the Final Rule pending a final resolution of their legal arguments against the Rule.  The businesses moved for summary judgment.  Continue reading


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Persuader Rule Update

By George J. Miller

On July 12th I posted a report on this blog about the U.S. Department of Labor’s “persuader rule” that was set to go into effect on July 1st. This rule would have required employers and their labor consultants—including employers’ attorneys—to file reports with the DOL disclosing in a public record the work the consultants performed, including fees paid, if the work even so much as “indirectly” is undertaken to persuade employees regarding the exercise of their rights to organize or join labor unions. At that time I reported that on June 27th the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas at Lubbock had issued a preliminary nationwide injunction against the DOL, prohibiting it from enforcing the persuader rule, pending a final decision on the merits of the case.  Independent Federation of Business, et al. v. Thomas E. Perez, et al, Case No. 5:16-CV-00016 (N.D. Texas, June 27, 2016).

To bring readers up to date, on August 29th, the DOL appealed the District Court’s injunction order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where the case is still pending.  However, this appeal did not divest the District Court of jurisdiction, and the case proceeded there.  Yesterday, November 16th, the court granted the plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion and denied the DOL’s summary judgment motion.  The court said it is of the opinion that its preliminary injunction should be converted to a permanent, nationwide injunction.  However, the court did not enter final judgment today, stating that it first wanted to determine whether the plaintiffs are entitled to recover their attorney fees and costs.  The court has ordered the parties to file briefs on that issue in the next few weeks.

 

 


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Post Young v. UPS: City of Florence, Kentucky Settles Pregnancy and Disability Lawsuit with Female Police Officers

By R. Joseph Stennis, Jr.

GavelThe City of Florence (“Florence” or “the City”) recently entered into a proposed consent decree, pending court approval, to resolve a discrimination lawsuit the Justice Department filed regarding two City female police officers.  The lawsuit, filed last month, alleges both officers were discriminated against based on pregnancy and disability grounds pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  According to the complaint, Florence female police officers Lyndi Trischler and Samantha Riley requested light duty in 2014 when both were unable to perform their duties as patrol officers due to their pregnancies.  Officer Trischler also suffered from complications resulting from a diagnosed high-risk pregnancy and requested light duty as a reasonable accommodation.

Florence’s light duty policy at the time of Ms. Trischler’s and Ms. Riley’s requests was limited to employees with on-the-job injuries only.  The City also required that employees with non-work related illnesses, injuries, or conditions provide information that establishes they have “no restrictions” prior to returning to work.  Florence denied both officers’ requests and required them to take leave instead.

This was the first lawsuit filed by the Justice Department challenging an entity’s light duty policy following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in last year’s Young v. UPS case.  In Young, UPS had a similar ‘employees injured on the job’ policy as Florence.  Peggy Young was a UPS pickup and Continue reading


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Kentucky Supreme Court Invalidates Louisville’s Minimum Wage Ordinance, Decision Impacts Lexington’s Ordinance As Well

By Sharon L. Gold

wage increaseToday the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a much awaited opinion in the minimum wage battle between Louisville and business groups, siding with the business groups and invalidating the ordinance.  In Kentucky Restaurant Association et. al v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Gov’t, 2015 –SC-000371-TG (October 20, 2016), the Kentucky Supreme Court invalidated Louisville’s minimum wage ordinance that raised the minimum wage above the state minimum.  Louisville’s ordinance raised the minimum wage gradually to $9.00 over the next several years.  Lexington passed a similar ordinance in November of 2015 that raised the minimum wage gradually to $10.10 over the next three years.  At the time of the decision, Lexington’s minimum wage had increased to $8.20 and Louisville’s was $8.25.

In February of 2015, the Kentucky Restaurant Association, Kentucky Retail Federation and Packaging Unlimited, LLC filed a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court arguing that local governments do not have the authority to raise the minimum wage.  While several states have raised the minimum wage, Kentucky’s is the same as the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

The Jefferson Circuit disagreed with the business groups and held that local governments had the authority to pass a minimum wage ordinance.  The business groups Continue reading


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Do Your Severance Agreements Violate Federal Law?

By Michelle Wyrick

Resume near laptop --- Image by © Kate Kunz/Corbis

In light of the enforcement positions taken recently by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), which administer several whistleblower statutes, employers (and especially publicly-traded companies) should review the release provisions in their severance agreements and update them if needed.

For many years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has taken the position that employers may not require employees who sign severance and release agreements to waive their rights to file charges with the EEOC or to participate in EEOC investigations.  The EEOC, however, has permitted employers to require employees to waive any right to monetary recovery in connection with any EEOC charges filed.  See EEOC Enforcement Guidance Non-Waivable Employee Rights under Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Enforced Statutes.

Now, the SEC has taken a more restrictive position.  Last month, the SEC fined two companies for using severance agreements that restricted Continue reading


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House Passes Bill to Delay Overtime Rule

By Michelle High

On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 246-177 to delay the implementation of the Department of Labor’s new rule which raises the salary level for exemption from overtime pay from an existing threshold of $455 per week to $913 per week. The new rule is currently scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016.  Numerous business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor opposing the significant increase.  In addition, a lawsuit challenging the new rule has been filed against the U.S. Department of Labor by twenty-one (21) states.

House Resolution 6094, introduced by Republican representative Tim Walberg, seeks to delay implementation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule for an additional six (6) months.  According to statements made by Walberg, he and others agree that the country’s overtime rules need to be updated.  However, he believes that lawmakers need to Continue reading


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21 States (Including Kentucky) and Several Businesses File Lawsuits Challenging DOL Final Rule Raising Salary for Exempt Workers

By Sharon L. Gold

money-roll-694667smallThis week, Kentucky, alongside 20 other states, sued the Department of Labor in a Texas Federal Court.  The states’ Complaint, 4:16-cv-00731, attacks the DOL’s Final Rule that raises the salary minimum for exempt workers.  That same day, numerous businesses and the Chamber of Commerce filed a similar Complaint, 4:16-cv-732, challenging the regulation.

The states contend that the Final Rule infringes upon state sovereignty and federalism by dictating the wages that a state must pay its employees.  The states contend that “as a result of the new overtime rules and the accompanying damage to state budgets, states will be forced to eliminate or alter employment relationships and cut or reduce services and programs.  Left unchecked, DOL’s salary basis test and compensation levels will wreck state budgets.”  States’ Complaint at 84.  As to Kentucky, the Complaint alleges that Continue reading