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Today’s Boston Globe reports that:
“Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and other CareGroup Inc. affiliates have agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit against the hospital chain that alleges workers were not paid for working through lunch breaks or beyond their scheduled shifts. The settlement, if given court approval, will cover as many as 9,000 current and former CareGroup employees.
CareGroup Inc. and its affiliates — Beth Israel, Beth Israel Deaconess-Needham, Mount Auburn Hospital, and New England Baptist Hospital — will pay up to $8.5 million. The settlement will include payments to cover back wages. CareGroup and its affiliates deny any wrongdoing.”
To read the entire story, click here.
A reminder to enjoy yourself and unwind this holiday weekend, from the folks at CNN:
“If you’ve been saying for years that long hours at work are killing you, forward this article to your boss–it might literally be true. According to a new study, people who work more than 10 hours a day are about 60 percent more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack than people who clock just seven hours a day.
It’s not clear why this is, but the researchers suggest that all that time on the job means less free time to unwind and take care of yourself. Stress may also play a role–but not as much as you might think. Working long hours appears to hurt your heart even if you don’t feel particularly stressed out, the study found.”
To read the entire article at the CNN website click here.
Arbitrator Rules That Massachusetts Trial Court System Must Pay Workers $30 Million In Retroactive Pay Increases, Boston Herald Reports
The Boston Herald is reporting that an Arbitrator has ruled that Massachusetts’ Trial Court system must pay its clerical workers $30 million in unpaid pay increases.
“In what is being called the costliest settlement of its type in state history, the financially strapped Trial Court system must shell out $30 million in back wages to thousands of unionized clerical workers, the Herald has learned.
In a decision reached May 7, an arbitrator ruled that the Trial Court broke its contract with Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 6, by refusing to pay the negotiated 3 percent pay raises since 2007…
In addition to the $30 million in back pay, the Trial Court must find $17 million in unfunded raises for the union employees for the next budget year, starting in July, said Superior Court Justice Peter W. Agnes Jr., president of the Massachusetts Judges Conference.”
To read the entire article click here.
Reuters is reporting that Wal-Mart has agreed to pay up to $86 Million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing it of failing to pay vacation, overtime and other wages to thousands of former workers in California.
According to Reuters, “[a]bout 232,000 people will share in the settlement, which was disclosed on Tuesday in a federal court filing.
It requires a minimum payout of $43 million, and “far exceeds other recent settlements” involving Wal-Mart, the filing shows. The accord requires court approval.”
To read the entire story click here.
Today’s NY Times reports that there is a growing trend of employers, who illegally deem workers, entitled to be paid at least minimum wage, to be unpaid “interns.”
The article reports that, “[w]ith job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor.
Convinced that many unpaid internships violate minimum wage laws, officials in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined employers. Last year, M. Patricia Smith, then New York’s labor commissioner, ordered investigations into several firms’ internships. Now, as the federal Labor Department’s top law enforcement official, she and the wage and hour division are stepping up enforcement nationwide.
Many regulators say that violations are widespread, but that it is unusually hard to mount a major enforcement effort because interns are often afraid to file complaints. Many fear they will become known as troublemakers in their chosen field, endangering their chances with a potential future employer.”
To read the entire article, click here.
Under the new Health Care Reform Law, the FLSA has been amended in several important respects. In addition to the highly publicized provision of healthcare for previously uninsured people, Thompson reports that employers must now provide breaks for women who are breastfeeding:
“Employers must now provide “reasonable” unpaid breaks to nursing mothers to express milk for their infants under an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act included in the landmark health care law signed by President Obama on March 23.
The health care law adds a new provision to the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. §207(r)(1), which allows nursing mothers to take a break every time they need to express breast milk and requires employers to provide a private location, other than a bathroom, where such employees may express milk. Employees must be allowed such breaks for up to one year after their child’s birth.
Employers of fewer than 50 employees are exempt if the breastfeeding requirements would “impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense.”
A number of states already mandate breastfeeding breaks, and under the FLSA, employers must comply with the standard that is more favorable to the employee (29 U.S.C. §218).
The health care law also amends the FLSA to require employers of more than 200 employees to automatically enroll new employees in existing employer-offered health plans.”
To read the entire article click here.
Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2010-1
The Wage and Hour Division, under the current Administration, has issued its first Administrative Interpretation Letter. The introductory text of the Letter is below:
“Based on the Wage and Hour Division’s significant enforcement experience in the application of the administrative exemption, a careful analysis of the applicable statutory and regulatory provisions and a thorough review of the case law that has continued to develop on the exemption, the Administrator is issuing this interpretation to provide needed guidance on this important and frequently litigated area of the law. Based on the following analysis it is the Administrator’s interpretation that employees who perform the typical job duties of a mortgage loan officer, as described below, do not qualify as bona fide administrative employees exempt under section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1).
Typical Job Duties of Mortgage Loan Officers
The financial services industry assigns a variety of job titles to employees who perform the typical job duties of a mortgage loan officer. Those job titles include mortgage loan representative, mortgage loan consultant, and mortgage loan originator. For purposes of this interpretation the job title of mortgage loan officer will be used. However, as the regulations make clear, a job title does not determine whether an employee is exempt. The employee’s actual job duties and compensation determine whether the employee is exempt or nonexempt. 29 C.F.R. § 541.2.
Facts found during Wage and Hour Division investigations and the facts set out in the case law establish that the following are typical mortgage loan officer job duties: Mortgage loan officers receive internal leads and contact potential customers or receive contacts from customers generated by direct mail or other marketing activity. Mortgage loan officers collect required financial information from customers they contact or who contact them, including information about income, employment history, assets, investments, home ownership, debts, credit history, prior bankruptcies, judgments, and liens. They also run credit reports. Mortgage loan officers enter the collected financial information into a computer program that identifies which loan products may be offered to customers based on the financial information provided. They then assess the loan products identified and discuss with the customers the terms and conditions of particular loans, trying to match the customers’ needs with one of the company’s loan products. Mortgage loan officers also compile customer documents for forwarding to an underwriter or loan processor, and may finalize documents for closings. See, e.g., Yanni v. Red Brick Mortgage, 2008 WL 4619772, at *1 (S.D. Ohio 2008); Pontius v. Delta Financial Corp., 2007 WL 1496692, at *2 (W.D. Pa. 2007); Geer v. Challenge Financial Investors Corp., 2007 WL 2010957 (D. Kan. 2007), at *2; Chao v. First National Lending Corp., 516 F. Supp. 2d 895, 904 (N.D. Ohio 2006), aff’d, 249 Fed.App. 441 (6th Cir. 2007); Epps v. Oak Street Mortgage LLC, 2006 WL 1460273, at *4 (M.D. Fla. 2006); Rogers v. Savings First Mortgage, LLC, 362 F. Supp. 2d 624, 627 (D. Md. 2005); Casas v. Conseco Finance Corp., 2002 WL 507059, at *1 (D. Minn. 2002).”
To read the entire Letter click here.
The Miami Herald reports that Miami-Dade “[c]ounty overwhelmingly passed a new ordinance to combat wage theft, making it easier for workers to bring legal action against employers who fail to pay them.
Thursday’s vote comes after more than a year of work by a non-governmental task force of labor and immigrant advocates in Miami. San Francisco has a similar ordinance. Los Angeles and New Orleans are considering them.”
In addition to recovering the unpaid wages that have been wrongly denied them, workers can recover 2 times that amount in additional damages. The ordinance will result in a a low-cost administrative process that seeks to speed along claims for workers who have not been properly paid their wages.
Companies Slash Payrolls By Calling Workers Independent Contractors; Costly To IRS And States, L.A. Times Reports
The LA Times reports that the “Internal Revenue Service and 37 states are cracking down on companies that try to trim payroll costs by illegally classifying workers as independent contractors, rather than as full employees, The Associated Press has learned. The practice costs governments billions in lost revenue and can leave workers high and dry when they are hurt at work or are left jobless.
Many who have studied the problem believe it’s worsened during the economic downturn, fueling even more aggressive recovery efforts by states.”
The article points out that “[t]ypically, unless workers fight for and win a ruling that they should have been treated as full employees, they aren’t able to collect workers’ compensation for the injury or unemployment benefits when left jobless.”
To read the full article click here.
To read more about the legal factors that determine whether someone is misclassified as an independent contractor vs employee, and industries where misclassification is rampant click here.