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Dykema Labor & Employment Law Blog

Dykema Labor & Employment Law Blog

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United States Department of Labor Announces Regulatory Agenda

Last week, the Trump administration released the Fall 2018 Regulatory Agenda describing the intended regulatory activity among the various departments or agencies within the Federal Government. While the announcement itself does not provide any guidance (or even very many hints) regarding the potential content of the regulations proposed, they nonetheless are sufficient to put employers on alert of likely upcoming changes. Read More ›

Michigan Legislature Adopts Minimum Wage Increases and Paid Sick Leave: Political Poker Is Alive and Well in Michigan

After various court battles, two ballot initiatives were set to be on the November ballot for voter consideration. If passed, one would have increased the state minimum wage and the other would have required employers to provide sick leave to employees. Under Michigan law, though, the Legislature is permitted the opportunity to foreclose the issues from appearing on the ballot by adopting those initiatives through legislation.

Even though the Republican majority of both houses appeared philosophically opposed to the initiatives, on September 5 both houses voted to adopt both of them. Ironically, even though the Democratic minority appeared anxious to have the initiatives on the ballot, most Democrats voted against their adoption by the Legislature. Read More ›

San Antonio Passes Ordinance Requiring Paid Sick Leave

This morning, the San Antonio City Council approved a new city ordinance that requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who work at least 80 hours within the City of San Antonio per year. Employers with more than 15 employees must allow employees to earn up to one hour of paid sick leave per 30 hours worked, up to a cap of 64 hours of paid sick leave per year; employers with 15 or fewer employees must allow employees to similarly accrue paid sick leave up to a cap of 48 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employees who terminate employment but return to the employer within six months are entitled to any earned sick leave that was available to them as of their termination date.  Read More ›

Wake up and Smell the Coffee: California Supreme Court Limits Use of the De Minimus Doctrine as a Defense to Claims for Small Amounts of Unpaid Wages

Except in limited circumstances, Employers in California can no longer avoid liability for unpaid wages even if the unpaid amounts are de minimus, or “trivially small.” Despite never being officially enacted into law, many California employers have relied on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) de minimus doctrine in defending claims brought by employees claiming to have worked off-the-clock. The de minimus doctrine is an application of the maxim de minimus non curate lex, meaning “the law does not concern itself with trifles.” The de minimis doctrine holds that “alleged working time need not be paid if it is trivially small: ‘[A] few seconds or minutes of work beyond the scheduled working hours… may be disregarded.’” In the context of off-the-clock claims, employers have used it to defend compensating employees for work performed off the clock in such small amounts that it would be administratively difficult to record. Most commonly, this applied to work time of fewer than 10 minutes. Read More ›

Clarity on Legality of Work Rules Under NLRA has Arrived!

Last month, in an effort to clarify what types of employee handbook rules are lawful under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued new Guidance on the topic. Determining which rules are permissible and which may violate the NLRA has troubled both union and non-union employers in recent years due to the Obama-era NLRB’s tendency to find that standard handbook rules (e.g. those on basic civility, insubordination, confidentiality, etc.) violate employees’ rights to engage in “concerted activity” for “mutual aid and protection” under Section 7 of the NLRA. Read More ›

Supreme Court Strikes “Knock-Down Blow” to Public Sector Unions

For about six years the writing was on the wall; the U.S. Supreme Court was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to reconsider its now 41-year old ruling allowing public sector unions to require non-union members to pay them “agency” or “fair-share” fees. Today, the Supreme Court has spoken: agency fee arrangements are allowed no more. Read More ›

5th Circuit Reminds Employers to Follow Requirements of Arbitration Agreement

On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, holding that waivers of class/collective actions included within an agreement between employers and employees to arbitrate any and all disputes was valid and enforceable (see previous Epic Systems blog post), the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reminded employers this week of the importance of adhering to the requirements of the arbitration agreements that they seek to enforce, holding that the employer’s failure to sign the agreement prevented its enforcement. Read More ›

Supreme Court Approves Waiver of Class/Collective Actions In Arbitration Agreements. What Does it Mean for Employers?

On May 21, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, resolving an issue on which several Courts of Appeals and various federal agencies and administrations had disagreed. At issue in Epic Systems (and two companion cases presenting the same issue: Ernst & Young LLP. v. Morris and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.) was whether a provision in an employer’s mandatory arbitration agreement with employees that waived individuals’ rights to participate in class and/or collective actions against the employer was valid. Finding that federal law supported the right to participate in individualized proceedings, and that there was no conflict with federal law protecting employees’ rights to engage in “concerted activities,” the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision that waivers of class/collective actions included within an agreement between employers and employees to arbitrate any and all disputes was valid and enforceable, precluding the efforts of employees to avoid arbitration in order to pursue collective actions against their employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Read More ›

Easy as ABC: California High Court Mandates New Test for Independent Contractors–Most Workers Should Now be Classified as Employees

On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court reversed a long standing precedent that provided employers with some flexibility in classifying employees as independent contractors versus employees. In Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, the court dealt with the standard under California law in determining whether workers should be classified as employees or independent contractors for purposes of California wage orders, which impose obligations relating to the minimum wages, maximum hours, and basic working conditions (such as required meal and rest breaks). Dynamex offers “on-demand” pickup and delivery services to the public and large business customers. The underlying lawsuit in Dynamex involved two individual delivery drivers, suing on  behalf of a class of allegedly similarly situated drivers. The workers filed a complaint against Dynamex, a nationwide package and document delivery company, alleging that Dynamex had misclassified its delivery drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Read More ›

Higher Learning: Employees of Educational Institutions Likely Protected From Sexual Orientation Discrimination under Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding. Many K-12 educational institutions and nearly all colleges and universities are subject to Title IX’s sex discrimination protections. Title IX and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 both protect employees against sex discrimination in the workplace, yet neither law expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation. Since case law interpreting Title VII generally influences how courts assess Title IX claims, it is important for educational institutions to closely monitor important developments in Title VII rulings pertaining to sexual orientation discrimination. Read More ›