In August, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) upheld an arbitration agreement that required individual arbitration of claims under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Court’s decision is in line with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis.

Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Upholds Mandatory Arbitration Of FLSA Claims

US Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, recently announced the creation of a new office, the Office of Compliance Initiatives. The “OCI” will be tasked with promoting greater knowledge of federal labor laws and regulations through enhanced compliance assistance outreach efforts. The goal of the OCI initiative is to prevent workplace violations.

Continue Reading The DOL Creates A New Compliance Office And Announces Six New Opinion Letters

In recent years, joint employer liability has emerged as a persistent threat for companies who use franchise business models. Franchisors are increasingly facing claims brought by employees of franchisees for entitlements flowing from their employment. The outcome in these cases is unpredictable because the law is undergoing change. As such, the joint employer aspects of franchising arrangements can prove to be a minefield for the unwary and are a growing global concern.

Click here to read the full article (originally published in the September 2018 edition of Franchising World), which covers key developments in joint employer liability for franchisors operating in Australia, Canada and Mexico and describes a proactive approach to help mitigate risk.

The First District Court of Appeal’s August 1, 2018 decision in Nishiki v. Danko Meredith, APC reminds employers of the harsh consequences for failing to timely (and properly) pay an employee’s wages upon resignation or termination.

The Court of Appeal addressed the Superior Court’s order 1) affirming the California Labor Commissioner’s award of $4,250 in “waiting time” penalties (i.e., the statutory penalty under Labor Code section 203 for the time an employee has to wait for the late payment of final wages), and 2) awarding Nishiki attorneys’ fees in the amount of $86,160 following the employer’s unsuccessful appeal from the Labor Commissioner to the Superior Court. On further appeal to the Court of Appeal, the employer argued the waiting time penalties were unwarranted and the attorney fees award was excessive. Though the Court of Appeal reduced the waiting time penalties, it otherwise affirmed the judgment and remanded for the trial court to award Nishiki additional attorneys’ fees incurred in responding to Danko’s appeal to the First District.

Continue Reading Substantial Penalties For Innocent Mistakes Regarding Final Wages Upon Termination

Last week, in Troester v. Starbucks Corporation (Case No. S234969), the California Supreme Court weighed in for the first time on the viability of a de minimis defense to California wage and hour claims.

Many commentators have since rushed to declare that “de minimis” is dead. Not so.

Continue Reading California Supreme Court Leaves Open The Possibility Of A De Minimis Defense For Wage And Hour Claims – But Not Under The Facts Of This Case

Last month the Seventh Circuit drew a distinction between “commissions” and “bonuses” as those terms are used in the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA) and its implementing regulations. For employers, particularly those in retail, Sutula-Johnson v. Office Depot informs how employers structure, amend and communicate their employee incentive compensation schemes.

Continue Reading Be Careful What You Call It — Commission Plans In Illinois

On June 14, franchisors received good news when the US District Court in the Eastern District of Illinois ruled that Jimmy John’s Franchise, LLC is not a joint employer of its franchisees’ employees.

In 2014, former employees of various Jimmy John’s franchisees brought a collective action against their former franchisee employers and against Jimmy John’s Franchise, LLC. The former employees alleged they were misclassified as exempt under the FLSA and consequently denied overtime pay. They also claimed that Jimmy John’s, as an alleged joint employer, was jointly liable for their damages.

On summary judgment, the Court applied a modified version of the Seventh Circuit’s Moldenhauer test to determine joint employment. It stated that all of the factors reviewed boiled down to one essential question: whether
Jimmy John’s exercised control and authority over franchise employees in a manner that caused the FLSA violation (at least in part). And, the Court determined that the evidence demonstrated that the franchise owners determine how to classify and compensate franchise employees — not Jimmy John’s. As such, Jimmy John’s did not exercise control over the alleged FLSA violation and was not a joint employer.

Click here to read more on the decision and its impact on franchisors.

In our latest episode, listen to partners Arthur Rooney and Mike Brewer discuss the recent decision from the US Supreme Court regarding class action waivers in arbitration agreements.

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