Wyatt Employment Law Report


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Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council Votes 9-6 to Increase the Minimum Wage to $10.10 over the Next Three Years

By Sharon L. Gold

coin stackAt last night’s packed council meeting, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council voted 9-6 to increase the minimum wage in the city to $10.10 over the next three years. The ordinance provides that the minimum wage shall increase to $8.20 an hour on July 1, 2016, $9.15 an hour on July 1, 2017, and $10.10 an hour on July 1, 2018. Mayor Gray indicated to the media that he will sign the ordinance.

Neighboring Louisville passed an ordinance increasing the minimum wage to $9 over the next three years. A group of businesses challenged the Louisville ordinance and that case is currently pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court. The Court will ultimately have to decide whether cities have the authority to increase the minimum wage.

This issue is being hotly contested all across the country, with proponents of a minimum wage increase arguing that families cannot live on the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Opponents of the wage increase argue, on the other hand, that raising the minimum wage will hurt lower income families because it will result in lost jobs and increased cost in everything from groceries to gas. Others argue that job training and education are more proper avenues to raise working families’ incomes.

 

 


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Sixty-Day Comment Period Open Regarding the DOL’s Proposed Rule Increasing Salary Requirement for Exempt Employees

By Sharon L. Gold

Today begins the sixty-day period when employers can submit comments about the DOL’s proposed rule increasing the salary requirements for exempt employees. The DOL proposes that the minimum salary requirements be raised from $455 coin stackper week or $23,660 a year to $970 a week or $50,440 a year. In order to qualify for the highly compensated exemption, an employee would have to make $122,148 annually, which is up from $100,000. In addition to comments on the salary increase, the DOL asks for comments on whether nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive pay should be included in the calculation of the minimum increased salary.

The proposed rule did not make any changes to the duties test that is utilized to determine if an employee is exempt (for instance, some thought the proposed rule would require that a certain amount of time be spent in management). However, the DOL did ask for Continue reading


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Texas Federal Court Stays Enforcement of DOL’s New Definition of Spouse in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska

medical leave requestThe U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule, effective March 27, 2015, changing the definition of spouse for purposes of same-sex spousal leave under the FMLA. The former rule, a “place of residence” rule, stated that an employer was required to provide same-sex spousal leave to qualified employees under the FMLA only if the marriage was enforceable in the employee’s state of residence. The new “place of celebration” rule states that same-sex spousal leave must be provided to qualified employees if the marriage is valid in the place where the marriage is performed. Therefore, under the new rule, if an employee is married in California (where same sex marriage is valid), but resides in Kentucky (where same sex marriage is not valid), the Kentucky employer must provide spousal leave to qualified employees.

Texas, joined by several other states, sued the DOL over the new rule and sought a preliminary injunction in federal court enjoining its enforcement. Texas argued that Continue reading


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Senate Fails to Act on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and Minimum Wage Bill

By Allison Grogan Buckley

Two high-profile bills pending in the Senate have failed to become law at the end of Kentucky’s 2015 regular legislative session.

In March, Kentucky’s House unanimously passed the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (House Bill 218), which would have required employers subject to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to provide reasonable accommodations for “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.” As drafted, the Act would have also amended the definition of “a related medical condition” to include “lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.” The bill was received by the Senate on February 27 and sent to the Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection committee on March 2, but the Senate failed to act further on the bill before the end of the 2015 regular session.

Also pending before the Senate was House Bill 2, which would have gradually raised the minimum wage in Kentucky from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour over the next two years. Like HB 218, the minimum wage bill was passed by the House and received in the Senate. The Bill was then referred to the Senate’s Appropriations & Revenue committee, but the Senate failed to act further prior to the end of the legislative session.

 


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House Unanimously Passes the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Bill Now Onto Senate

The House unanimously passed the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (HB 218), which would require employers subject to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to provide reasonable accommodations for “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.” It would also amend the Civil Rights Act to make it unlawful for employers to “fail to accommodate an employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition [and would] require employers to provide notice to all employees regarding discrimination for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.” In addition, a “related medical condition” would be amended to include “lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child and has the same meaning as in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. sec. 2000e(k).” The bill is now headed to the Senate.

pregnancy, workAccommodations for pregnant employees is a hot topic in employment news right now. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide in Young v. UPS whether employers are required under the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act to provide accommodations for pregnancy–related symptoms. Young had requested light duty due to Continue reading


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FMLA Protections Apply to Same-Sex Couples if Marriages Are Valid in State of Celebration

The Department of Labor issued a final rule yesterday that extends FMLA protections to eligible employees in same sex marriages so long as the marriages are legal where the ceremonies were performed. This is the so-called “place of celebration” rule. The former rule authorized FMLA spousal leave only if same-sex marriage was valid in the employee’s state of residence (i.e. “state of residence” rule). Under the new place of celebration rule, if an eligible employee is married in a state that authorizes same-sex marriage, FMLA spousal leave is permitted even if same-sex marriage is not valid in the employee’s state of residence.

medical leave requestThe issue of whether the FMLA permitted same-sex spousal leave arose after the United States Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675, 2693 (2013), that the Federal definition of marriage excluding same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Courts had held that the Federal definition of marriage applied to FMLA spousal leave, even though the FMLA regulations stated the state’s law of the employee’s residence applied to determine the validity of the marriage. Since Windsor found the Federal definition of marriage unconstitutional, the FMLA definition of “spouse” applied. Many commentators were dissatisfied with the FMLA place of residence rule because Continue reading


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Supreme Court Holds that Employer-Required Security Screenings Are Not Compensable Time in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, 574 U.S. ___ (2014).

On December 9, 2014, the Supreme Court unanimously held that warehouse employees were not entitled to be compensated for time spent at the end of their shifts in security screenings. The Court held that the post-shift screening activity was not compensable because it was not “integral and indispensable” to the principal activities the employees were hired to perform.

employee_staff_punch_clock_medThe employer, Integrity Staffing, provides warehouse  employee staffing to Amazon.com in various locations throughout the U.S. The Plaintiffs were hired to locate products in a warehouse and prepare them to be shipped. Id. at 1-2. Integrity Staffing required that its warehouse workers undergo security screenings at the end of their shifts to protect against employee theft. These screenings involved employees removing items like wallets, keys and belts, and passing through metal detectors. This process sometimes took up to 25 minutes. Id. at 2.

The Plaintiff/employees argued that they were entitled to be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for time spent waiting in line to undergo security screenings. They argued that the security screenings were solely for Continue reading