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Wage and Hour Archives

DOL Issues Six New Opinion Letters

On August 28, 2018, the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, issued six new opinion letters on issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Family Medical Leave Act. They are summarized below:

Recent Court Ruling On Equal Pay Suggests That Salary History Questions May Be Off Limits In Job Interviews

Asking job applicants how much they make with their current employer, or what they've been paid in prior positions, are common questions in job interviews for many hiring employers. While questions on salary history generally are not per se unlawful - yet - they can land an employer in hot water. The legal theory against salary questions in onboarding is based on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and its state law counterparts. These laws make it unlawful for an employer to pay women less than men for doing the same work. However, despite more than 50 years since the Equal Pay Act became law, there are growing concerns that women continue to be paid less than men. If true, basing job offers on a woman's salary history could serve to perpetuate gender-based disparities in pay. This was the rationale in a recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in California, which held that setting initial pay of new hires based on their salary history cannot serve as a defense to an Equal Pay claim. This decision conflicts with a 1995 opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, which held that salary history is a "factor other than sex" that may provide a defense to claims challenging pay differences based on gender. A showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court now seems likely. Additionally, emerging laws and administrative requirements aimed at "closing the pay gap" and/or "breaking the glass ceiling" are ushering in significant change. Employers who fail to stay ahead of this trend risk trouble down the road.

DOL Rolls Out Voluntary Self-Audit Program (PAID)

On April 3, 2018 the Department of Labor implemented a new pilot program, in effect for the next six months, under which employers may correct inadvertent minimum wage and overtime violations without the imposition of penalties or liquidated damages (employers must still pay 100% of any back wages owed). Under the new program - Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID), employers are encouraged to conduct self-audits, and if they discover any violations, to report them to the Wage and Hour Division, which will work with the employer and affected employees to correct them.

Electronic Timekeeping - A Hidden Source of Liability

Your company utilizes electronic timekeeping software, whether purchased for internal use or provided by a third party payroll service. The system is operating, so it must be doing so legally, right? Not necessarily. On several recent occasions I discovered, much to the dismay of my clients, that the timekeeping system they have been utilizing for years was setup in a manner that violates state and federal wage and hours laws - often discovered, unfortunately and expensively, in connection with a Department of Labor audit or other legal action.

Wal-Mart Loss: Employee Drivers Must Be Paid For All Time Working

In the United States under both state and federal laws, trucking companies generally cannot pay their employee drivers for only "bill of lading hours." Companies/employers must pay their employee drivers from the time the drivers report for duty until they are released from duty for the day-not just for "bill of lading hours."

Village of Barrington "Opts Out" of Cook County Sick Leave

As I am sure most, if not all, readers of this Illinois Client Update are aware, over the last few years both the City of Chicago and Cook County have been very active in creating legislation increasing the obligations of Employers with regard to Hourly Wage Rates and Sick Leave. Both the City of Chicago and Cook County have seen fit to pass legislation increasing the Minimum Wage and creating a Paid Sick Leave concept for Employers within their geographic boundaries:

DOL Remains in the Spotlight, Settling Wage and Hour Claims Brought by Its Own Employees and Fighting Opposition to its Controversial New Overtime Rule

September 2016

Employee Wage Deductions

In a rare and somewhat unexpected action, the Illinois Department of Labor, which is not perceived as an "employer-friendly agency," recently amended the requirements that are imposed on employers when making deductions from employee wages.

Avoid Paying Excessive Plaintiff Legal Fees

Over the last five (5) years, there has been a drastic increase in the number of lawsuits filed alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in an attempt to procure back wages and liquidated damages for affected employees. A vast number of these lawsuits have turned into large class action litigations. Any employer who has been involved in this type of scenario is well aware that the "actual bottom line cost" of these cases is not just the alleged back wages and liquidated damages due to the affected employees, but by statute, will include substantial payments to Plaintiff's counsel for "reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the successful Plaintiff in pursing their claim."

Payment Cards as Wage Payment (?)

The brilliant Illinois legislature has recently recognized payroll cards as an approved method of wage payment in the State of Illinois. This measure has passed the House (House Bill 5622) after receiving prior approval from the Senate and now awaits Governor Pat Quinn's signature. The author believes that this group is the reincarnation of Nero "who fiddled while Rome burned." As presently written, the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act expressly provides only for the payment of wages via Cash or via Check or via Direct Deposit and makes no mention whatsoever of payroll payment cards. Obviously, this dichotomy as to what the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act states and what the Illinois legislature has recently done, creates a quandary.

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