Wyatt Employment Law Report


New Kentucky Law Ensures That Employees Can Be Required To Arbitrate Claims

By Michelle Wyrick

On March 25, 2019, Governor Bevin signed legislation providing that an employer may require an employee to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of employment. The legislation, which amends KRS 336.700, is designed to reverse the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision in Northern Ky. Area Development Dist. v. Snyder,  2017-SC-000277-DG (Ky. 2018), which held that employers may not condition employment upon execution of an arbitration agreement.
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Payments and Perks: the DOL Announces a Proposal to Clarify What Qualifies as Overtime

By Marianna Michael

On Thursday, March 28, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced proposed changes to the overtime provisions of section 7(e) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  In its current form, the statute generally requires employers to pay overtime if workers work more than 40 hours a week.  One exemption to the overtime rule includes the salary basis exemption, where employees generally must be paid at least $455 per week on a salary basis, unless they are outside sales employees, teachers and employees practicing law or medicine.

accounting-blur-budget-128867Overtime pay is equal to one and one half times the regular rate of pay.  In designating what is included under the regular rate of pay, the current provision makes a distinction between payments and perks.  With the proposed provision, the DOL seeks to clarify what qualifies as either a payment or perk in an attempt to discourage employers from offering incentives that are excluded from the calculation of overtime pay.

The proposed changes confirm that the following types of employer-provided benefits may be excluded from the regular rate of pay:

  • the cost of providing wellness programs, onsite specialist treatment, gym access and fitness classes and employee discounts on retail goods and services;
  • payments for unused paid leave, including paid sick leave;
  • reimbursed expenses, even if not incurred “solely” for the employer’s benefit;
  • reimbursed travel expenses that do not exceed the maximum travel reimbursement permitted under the Federal Travel Regulation System regulations and that satisfy other regulatory requirements;
  • discretionary bonuses;
  • benefit plans, including accident, unemployment and legal services; and
  • tuition programs, such as reimbursement programs or repayment of educational debt.

This proposal is published for public comments and will remain open until May 28, 2019.  Comments may be submitted to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at www.regulations.gov. More information is available here.


Comment Period Open for DOL’s Proposed Salary Increase

By Sharon Gold

The Office of the Federal Register officially published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) raising the salary minimum for exempt workers that we discussed last week.  The NPRM proposes to raise the minimum salary for exempt workers to $35,308 per year ($679 per week), from the current minimum of $23,660 per year ($455 per week).  The NPRM also raises the highly compensated minimum to $147,414 per year, up from the current minimum of $100,000.  Once a proposed rule is officially published, the 60 day comment period is open.  Employers have until May 21, 2019 to comment.  The link to comment is available here.

If the Rule is finalized, it is estimated that 1.1 million workers will have their salaries raised to the minimum or will be eligible for overtime.


DOL Releases Much Awaited Proposed Rule Raising Salary Minimum to $35,308 – Employers Have 60 Days to Comment

By Sharon Gold

On Thursday, March 7, 2019, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) released the much anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that significantly raises the minimum salary for exempt workers from $23,660 to $35,308.  It is estimated that if this rule is finalized, more than a million workers will either become eligible for overtime pay or have their salaries raised to meet the minimum.

Employers will recall that in late 2016, a mere few days before the salary minimum was supposed to be raised to $47,476, a federal judge in Texas blocked the rule.  Since that time, the DOL issued a Request for Information about the salary rule in 2017.  More than 200,000 employers and individuals commented.  In addition, the DOL had six in-person listening sessions in connection with the Request for Information.  The DOL indicated Continue reading


H-2B Random Selection Process to Begin July 2019

By Glen Krebs

The Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Office of Foreign Labor Certification (“OFLC”) has announced a plan to change the way it handles the ETA-9142B form which begins the H-2B application process.  Beginning July 3, 2019, all H-2B applications submitted to the National Processing Center (“NPC”) in the first three days of the filing period will be collected.  The filing period begins 90 days before the date of need, so for a date of need beginning October 1, 2019, the filing period begins on July 3, 2019.  On the fourth day of the filing period (July 6), the OFLC will conduct a random selection process on all applications collected by the NPC in the first three days.  Applications covering the first 33,000 H-2B workers will be assigned to Group A.  The Group A applications will then be assigned to NPC analysts in the order of the random selection.   If there are applications for more than 33,000 workers, the remaining applications will be assigned to Group B, Group C, etc. after the random selection process is complete.  Each subsequent group will cover 20,000 H-2B workers.  If there are not 33,000 H-2B worker applications in the first three days, after the random selection process is complete, processing will continue in the normal fashion based on when the application is received by the NPC.

Employers will receive either a Notice of Deficiency or a Notice of Acceptance just as in prior years.  It is in the employers’ best interest to be prepared to conduct their recruitment and submit their reports quickly.  That will allow them to receive Temporary Labor Certification and submit the I-129 to the United States Immigration and Customs Service (“USCIS”) before the 33,000 visas allotted in each six-month period are issued to other employers.

For questions or help with H-2B Non-Agricultural Worker visas, please contact Glen Krebs (859)288-7409.


Changes to OSHA Electronic Submission Requirement Take Effect February 25

By Julie Laemmle Watts

ballpen-contemporary-desk-955390.jpgThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published a final rule on January 25, 2019, which goes into effect February 25, 2019.  The final rule better protects worker privacy by eliminating the electronic submission requirement of certain forms.  Specifically, employers with 250 or more employees will no longer have to electronically submit information from Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report).  However, employers with 250 or more employees, as well as employers in certain designated industries with 20 or more employees but fewer than 250 employees, will still be required to electronically submit  information from Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) on an annual basis.  The final rule also requires covered employers to submit Employer Identification Numbers (“EIN”) when electronically filing injury and illness data, which OSHA hopes will reduce duplicative employer reporting.  Notably, employers do not have to submit EINs until 2020.

The final rule does not change the fact that all covered employers must still maintain OSHA Forms 300 and 301 onsite for OSHA inspections and enforcement of actions.

Important dates:

Final rule goes into effect February 25, 2019

Submission of Form 300A data for 2018 is due by March 2, 2019

Submission of EIN is due by March 2, 2020 (to coincide with employers’ submission of 2019 300A data)

Please notify us if you would like to discuss the above with a member of the labor and employment team at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP.


US Supreme Court Gives Rare Victory for Arbitration Opponents in a Narrow Case for Transportation Workers

By Sharon Gold

Over the past few decades, the US Supreme Court has become a very arbitration-friendly Court.  Indeed, in the last decade, the Court has upheld arbitration in numerous decisions.  This week, in a rare victory for arbitration opponents, the Supreme Court in New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira unanimously rejected arbitration for truck drivers who were classified as independent contractors under the narrow transportation exception.  At issue was an exception to the enforceability of arbitration clauses for “contracts of employment” of workers engaged as seamen, railroad workers or those engaged in foreign or interstate commerce under the Federal Arbitration Act.  Both parties in the case agreed that truck driver employees fell within the exception.  The questions at issue were: 1) Should the Court decide the initial issue of enforceability of arbitration or should an arbitrator; and 2) Whether the transportation exclusion applied to independent contractors rather than just employees.

The Court initially held that the decision of whether the exclusion applied was one for the Court to decide because it dealt with the statutory authority of the Court.  In another case decided by the Court this term, the Court held that the interpretation of an arbitration agreement, on the other hand, would be subject to review by an arbitrator who would then decide whether arbitration was proper.  Here, because the exclusion concerned the Court’s statutory authority to Continue reading