Wyatt Employment Law Report

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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

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Proposed House Bill Would Ban Employers From Asking About Salary History

By Michelle High

coin stackThis past week, House Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-District of Columbia, introduced H.R. 6030, which seeks to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act and add a section prohibiting all employers from asking about a job applicant’s salary history. The bill, also known as the Pay Equity for All Act of 2016, would make it illegal for an employer to screen prospective employees based on their previous wages or salary histories, including benefits or other compensation or to require a prospective employee to disclose previous wages or salary histories, including benefits or other compensation. Additionally, employers would be prohibited from seeking the previous wages or salary history of any prospective employee from a current or former employer.

The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Jackie Speier of California and Jerrold Nadler of New York. According to the sponsors, because many employers set wages based on an applicant’s previous salary, workers from historically disadvantaged groups often Continue reading

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Seventh Circuit Rejects Claim of Sexual Orientation Discrimination

By Jordan M. White

rainbow flagJust last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  On July 28, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the EEOC’s determination and ruled that Title VII does not protect employees from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  In Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, Kimberly Hively, a part-time adjunct professor, claimed that she was denied full-time employment and promotions because she was a lesbian.  Hively began her teaching career at Ivy Tech in 2000.  Between 2009 and 2014, she applied for six full-time positions. She alleged that the college never even interviewed her for any of those positions, despite having the necessary qualifications and a record of positive work performance evaluations.

In December 2013, Hively filed a charge with the EEOC, alleging that she had been discriminated against on the basis of her sexual orientation and had been “blocked from full-time employment without just cause.”  Ivy Tech did not renew her part-time employment contract in July 2014 and she filed suit.  Ivy Tech successfully argued at Continue reading

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Are Your FLSA and EPPA Posters Up to Date?

By Courtney Ross Samford

The Department of Labor recently announced revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) posters that must be posted in workplaces across the country.  The updated posters, which are available for download on the DOL’s website, must be posted by August 1, 2016.

All private, federal, state and local government employers employing at least one employee are subject to the requirements of the FLSA.  The EPPA applies to any employer engaged in or affecting commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, but excludes federal, state and local governments, and circumstances covered by the national defense and security exemption.