Category Archives: Labor & Employment

EMPLOYERS: Are You Exempt from Paid Sick Leave for COVID?

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Among other things, the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) provides paid leave to employees to care for a child and paid sick leave.  Though the FFCRA generally applies to employers with less than 500 employees, employers with less than 50 employees can be exempt if compliance with the FFCRA would jeopardize “the viability of the employer’s business as a going concern.” Upon enactment, Congress did not clarify the mechanism for claiming an exemption, but the Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued some guidance.

A small business (with fewer than 50 employees) may be exempt from certain paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements if: (a) leave is requested because the employee’s child’s school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons; and (b) providing that employee such leave would jeopardize the viability of the employer’s business as a going concern.  As to (b), an authorized officer of the business must determine that at least one of the following three conditions is satisfied:

  1. the requested leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations to exceed available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at minimal capacity; or
  2. the absence of the employee or employees requesting leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business or responsibilities; or
  3. there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting leave, and those labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at minimal capacity.

The exemption applies only to leave requests under the FFCRA due to school closures and child care unavailability and does not exempt small businesses from providing sick leave for any of the other types of permissible requests under the FFCRA. 

The DOL does not explain how small businesses go about claiming the exemption and specifically advises employers not to send any materials to the DOL.  So what is an employer to do?  We recommend having an authorized officer of the employer sign a statement verifying that one or more of the three qualifying reasons apply and attach supporting materials if available.  The employer must maintain this record for at least four (4) years in case of a lawsuit, DOL audit or other challenge. Remember that this exemption only applies to employers with less than 50 employees and is otherwise inapplicable to employers with 51 to 499 employees.

Ellen M. Leibovitch

Board Certified Labor & Employment Lawyer

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

2300 Glades Road

East Tower – Suite 135

Boca Raton, Florida 33431

Main: 561-361-6566
Direct: 561-948-2479

[Bio] [V-card] [Directions]

eml@assoulineberlowe.com

www.assoulineberlowe.com

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U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Rule To Update FLSA’s Joint Employer Regulations

In addition to all the other labor and employment updates in the law of the last week, the issue of “joint employment” has gone through an official transformation this past week. 

The issue of Joint Employer arises frequently in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases when employees seek to hold more than one “employer” liable for overtime and other wages claimed to be owed.  Oftentimes, the question of whether entities can be considered joint employers is uncertain and differs from court to court.  In an effort to clarify the matter, the Department of Labor (DOL) has adopted a four-factor balancing test to determine joint employer status that is focused on decision-making (did the alleged employer have the right to hire and fire the employee?), supervision (did the alleged employer substantially control the conditions of employee’s employment?), payment (did the alleged employer set the employee’s pay?) and record-keeping (did the alleged employer maintain employment records?).

As with all balancing tests, no one factor is more important than the other.  The questions becomes whether, on balance, the employee performed work that benefitted more than one employer, and additional facts relevant to this inquiry may also be considered.

This final rule quietly went into effect on March 16, 2020 but was understandably overshadowed by critical issues surrounding COVID-19. 

Important to note that this rule is only applicable to joint employer issues arising under the FLSA and not to other federal laws impacting employment such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

More information about the new rule can be found at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa/2020-joint-employment.

Of course, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Ellen M. Leibovitch

Board Certified Labor & Employment Lawyer

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

2300 Glades Road

East Tower – Suite 135

Boca Raton, Florida 33431

Main: 561-361-6566
Direct: 561-948-2479

[Bio] [V-card] [Directions]

eml@assoulineberlowe.com

www.assoulineberlowe.com


Intellectual Property, Labor & Employment Law,  Real Estate, International Dispute Resolution, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Law, Bankruptcy, Trusts & Estates, Probate and Guardianship


Miami • Ft. Lauderdale • Boca Raton 

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URGENT EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE – FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Act”) was signed into law on March 18, 2020, takes effect on April 2, 2020 and expires on December 31, 2020.  This email briefly summarizes those aspects of the Act applicable to employers with fewer than 500 employees.

EMERGENCY FAMILY & MEDICAL LEAVE

The Act amends the Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) by providing 12 weeks of job-protected leave for employees who have been on the job for at least 30 days, as follows:

  • The emergency leave must be for an employee to quarantine due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus, to care for an at-risk family member who is quarantined due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus, or care for a child if the child’s school is closed or a child-care provided is unavailable due to the virus.
  • The first ten (10) days of the leave may be unpaid (though the employee may elect to substitute any accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave for unpaid leave), but the rest of the leave must be paid as follows: two (2) weeks of fully paid leave, and the remaining leave paid at two-thirds (2/3) the employee’s usual pay.
  • Paid leave shall not exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
  • While employees taking this leave have the right to be reinstated in a position with equivalent pay and benefits, employers with fewer than 25 employees do not have to reinstate an employee if the position held by the employee when the leave commenced does not exist due to economic conditions or changes of operation that were caused by the public health emergency.
  • Employees who are emergency responders or who work for health care providers may not be eligible for emergency FMLA.
  • Employers with less than 50 employees can be exempted from the Act’s requirements when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.

EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE

The Act also allows for paid sick leave for employees (the “Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act”) who are unable to work due to: 

  1. A governmental quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. Advice from a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  3. The employee experiencing symptoms of coronavirus and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. A need to care for or assist an individual who is subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or
  5. A need to care for a child whose school or place of childcare is closed or unavailable due to coronavirus.

Other highlights of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act include the following:

  • Employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for full time employees.  Part-time employees can receive an amount equal to the to the number of hours the employee works on average over a two-week period. 
  • Employers may not require that employees use other paid leave time prior to using emergency paid sick time. 
  • Employers may not require employees who request paid sick leave to find a replacement to cover for their scheduled hours as a condition to grant the request.
  • Sick time will not carry over after 2020.
  • As with emergency FMLA, employers of health care providers and emergency responders may elect to exclude such employees from the application of the paid sick leave; and employers with less than 50 employees can be exempted from the Act’s requirements.
  • This section of the Act makes it unlawful for an employer to discharge, discipline, or in any other manner discriminate against any employee (1) who takes leave in accordance with this Act, or (2) has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this Act (including a proceeding that seeks enforcement of this Act), or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding. 
  • An employer who fails to provide sick leave as required under the Act shall (1) be considered to have failed to pay minimum wages in violation of section 6 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and (2) be subject to the penalties described thereunder with respect to such violation, including liquidated (double) damages for willful violations.
  • As with other labor law posters, employers will be required to post notice of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (to be provided by the Secretary of Labor) in a conspicuous place on the employer’s premises within seven (7) days from enactment.

TAX CREDITS

Employers who pay employees for emergency FMLA leave or sick leave under the Act are entitled to refundable tax credit taken against the employer’s share of certain employment taxes. The credits are limited up to $200 per day for up to 10 days for each employee who takes paid sick leave, but if the sick leave was for the employee’s own covered quarantine or isolation or for the time for the employee to receive his or her own diagnosis, the credit is limited to up to $511 per day. 

CONCLUSION 

This time of crisis requires everyone to be flexible – employers and employees – and employers must definitely update their time off and sickness policies to reflect the  changes imposed by the Act.  Employers who are able to allow employees to work from home and remain productive, should do so.  Employees who cannot work remotely and who do not qualify for emergency FMLA or sick leave should continue to work for as long as local ordinances do not require sheltering in place and so long as the employer has work for the employee.  The bigger issue, and one which Congress may next have to address, is the slowing down of commerce and the lack of work in many sectors of the business community.  More on that to follow as the matter winds its way through the halls of government.

As always, please stay safe and take care of yourselves and your families.

Ellen M. Leibovitch

Board Certified Labor & Employment Lawyer

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

2300 Glades Road

East Tower – Suite 135

Boca Raton, Florida 33431

Main: 561-361-6566
Direct: 561-948-2479

[Bio] [V-card] [Directions]

eml@assoulineberlowe.com

www.assoulineberlowe.com


Intellectual Property, Labor & Employment Law,  Real Estate, International Dispute Resolution, Commercial Litigation, Corporate Law, Bankruptcy, Trusts & Estates, Probate and Guardianship


Miami • Ft. Lauderdale • Boca Raton 

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BANKRUPTCY LAW – Small Business Reorganization Act, New Interim Rules Released

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The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, through its Chief Judge, Laurel M. Isicoff, issued several updates tonight regarding the new Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA), which goes into effect TOMORROW!

As stated by the Chief Judge: “The SBRA creates a new subchapter V of chapter 11 for the reorganization of small business debtors.  It does not repeal existing chapter 11 provisions regarding small business debtors, but instead creates an alternative procedure that small business debtors may elect to use.”

The Court further stated that: The Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States has promulgated Interim Rules and Form Amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure as a result of the passage of the Small Business Reorganization Act.

Among the numerous orders, is Administrative Order 2020-02 In re: Adoption of Interim SBRA Bankruptcy Rules.  This is an important set of rules that bankruptcy practitioners in the Southern District of Florida must follow.

Amended Official Forms 101, 201, 309E (renumbered 309E1), 309F (renumbered as 309F1), 314 (use Local Form LF-33), 315, and 425A, and new Official Forms 309E2, and 309F2 become effective February 19, 2020. For changes in the Bankruptcy Forms please visit: https://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/pending-rules-and-forms-amendments/pending-changes-bankruptcy-forms.

Additional SBRA Resource:

A Guide to the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019” by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul W. Bonapfel Northern District of Georgia.

Eric N. Assouline, Esq.

 

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HAPPY 17th ANNIVERSARY to ASSOULINE & BERLOWE!

MIAMI – Assouline & Berlowe, P.A., The Business Law Firm, is pleased to announce that today it is celebrating its 17th Anniversary.

Started on February 10, 2003, through humble beginnings, in a small subleased space in Coral Gables, Assouline & Berlowe has weathered the many business climate changes and challenges of the past two decades.

Assouline & Berlowe is proud of its contributions to its communities in the tri-county area, as part of its presence with offices in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale/Dania Beach, and Boca Raton.  Assouline & Berlowe regularly supports both its legal community and numerous charitable organizations alike.

Assouline & Berlowe is strategically positioned to continue its expansion as a strong player in South Florida’s international business environment.

To all those that we have worked with in the past and to those we hope to work with in the future, we say thank you.

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INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION / BANKRUPTCY PANEL DISCUSSION – October 23, 2019 at the University of Miami

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ONLY 7 DAYS LEFT.

The International Arbitration Society at the University of Miami School of Law is presenting a panel discussion on the conflict between International Arbitration and Domestic Insolvency.

Date : October 23, 2019

Time: 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

The discussion will be followed by a networking social.

Students, professionals and practitioners are invited to attend and participate.

Please RSVP here: https://lnkd.in/eAT24JM

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PARALEGAL SEMINAR – OCT. 19, 2019 – South Florida Paralegal Association

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Assouline & Berlowe Litigation Partner Peter E. Berlowe is one of the guest speakers at this year’s Annual Fall Seminar for the the South Florida Paralegal Association. 

On October 19, 2019 at the Florida International University – College of Law

Located at Rafael Diaz Balart Hall (RDB) Room 2008, 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33199

Offering 6.5 Credits

Including 1  Ethics Credit and 0.5 Technology Credit

With Keynote Speaker

Mercedes M. Prieto, Esq., Clerk of the Third District Court of Appeal on Introduction to Legal Research and Legal Memoranda Writing

and guest speakers


 Peter E. Berlowe, Esq. of Assouline & Berlowe, P.A. on Analysis of an Injurious Falsehood Case and the Paralegal’s Role

 Marc Hurwitz of Crossroads Investigations on A Former CIA Officer’s Guide to Investigations for the Divorce Process

Bianca Moreiras of Bianca Moreiras & Associates on Time Management, Goal Setting and Taking Action

 Felice Solomon of Solomon Search Group on How Paralegals Can Deal With Seven Personality Types in the Workplace

and

 Valencia N. Poitier, Esq. of American Integrity Insurance of Florida, Inc. on HIPPA: Accountability, Ethics and Evidence – Avoiding the Pitfalls of Suppression and Lack of Foundation

The cost to attend the event is:

Students: $25 

Member & Affiliate Members: $55

Non-Members: $65

Continental breakfast & hot lunch will be provided Your Savory Fare

For more information regarding the event, please contact SFPA Vice-President Summer Marshall by email at smarshallfrp@gmail.com


For more information on how to sponsor this event, please contact

Sadena Blatt Miropol by email at sb0929@gmail.com

This seminar meets the requirements of the NALA Certifying Board for Paralegals for continuing legal education credit required to maintain the CP (Certified Paralegal) credential.

To recap:

The South Florida Paralegal Association is proud to present its 2019 Annual Fall Seminar on October 19, 2019 at the Florida International University – College of Law, located at Rafael Diaz Balart Hall (RDB), RDB 2008, 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33199

Celebrating 40 Years of Commitment to the Legal Community

Offering 6.5 Credits (including .5 Ethics Credit and 1 Technology Credit)

With keynote speaker:
Mercedes M. Prieto, Esq., Clerk of the Third District Court of Appeal

And guest speakers:
Peter E. Berlowe, Esq. of Assouline & Berlowe, P.A.,
Marc Hurwitz of Crossroads Investigations,
Felice Solomon of Solomon Search Group,
Valencia N Poitier, Esq. of American Integrity Insurance of Florida, Inc., and
Bianca Moreiras of Bianca Moreiras & Associates

The cost to attend the event is:
Students: $25
Member & Affiliate Members: $55
Non-Members: $65

Continental breakfast & hot lunch will be provided Your Savory Fare

For more information regarding the event, please contact SFPA Vice-President Summer Marshall by email at smarshallfrp@gmail.com

For more information on how to sponsor this event, please contact Sadena Blatt Miropol by email at sb0929@gmail.com

This seminar meets the requirements of the NALA Certifying Board for Paralegals for continuing legal education credit required to maintain the CP (Certified Paralegal) credential.

All content © SFPA 2019.

South Florida Paralegal Association, Inc. is a non-profit organization. 123 S.E. 3rd Avenue, #367, Miami, Florida 33131.

http://sfpa.info/event-3565682

 

 

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LABOR LAW UPDATE – Exempt Employee Thresholds

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It is Finally Here!

Over the years, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has attempted to change certain rules applicable to implementation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and increase the salary threshold for exempt employees from $455 per week (the level it has been at since 2004).

Many may recall that a rule to increase the salary thresholds for exemptions was first enjoined and subsequently invalidated by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in 2016.   A year later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held the appeal in abeyance pending further DOL rulemaking regarding a revised salary threshold.  In other words, the DOL has consistently enforced the 2004 salary level for the last 15 years.

However, the DOL has now finally announced a final rule which is expected to make 1.3 million American workers eligible for overtime pay under the FLSA.  In a nutshell, this rule, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020, accomplishes three primary objectives:

First, the rule updates the earnings thresholds – from $455 to $684 per week – necessary to exempt certain white collar positions, i.e., executive, administrative and professional employees, from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.

Second, the new rule will allow employers to meet up to 10% of the new salary level from nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions).

Third, the rule will increase the salary requirements for the “highly compensated employees (HCE)” exemption from $100,000 to $107,432 per year.

Again, please note that the final rule will be effective on January 1, 2020.

Additional information about the final rule is available at www.dol.gov/whd/overtime2019.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Ellen M. Leibovitch, Head of Labor & Employment Practice – Boca Raton Office and can be reached by email at eml@assoulineberlowe.com or by Telephone: 561-361-6566.

 

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NEW BANKRUPTCY JUDGE – Scott M. Grossman has been Appointed as a Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of Florida

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MIAMI – Welcome to Scott M. Grossman, to the bench!  Scott M. Grossman is the first bankruptcy judge appointed to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Division, since February 2006, when Judge John Olsen joined the Court.

Judge Grossman was appointed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which controls all the federal and bankruptcy courts in the State of Florida.  Judge Grossman was appointed as a Bankruptcy Judge for a fourteen-year term, effective today, October 2, 2019.  [Press Release to the announcement from the Chief Judge is available through this link: General Order 2019-03 re: Assignment of New Cases and Adversary Proceedings, and Reassignment of Pending Cases Upon Appointment of Bankruptcy Judge Scott M. Grossman.

Assouline & Berlowe SuperLawyers 2019

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Eric N. Assouline, Esq. – Commercial Litigation and Bankruptcy Litigation Partner

 

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EMPLOYERS: Department of Labor Issued its Final Rule on Overtime Pay under FLSA – EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2020

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Board Certified Labor & Employment Partner Ellen Leibovitch and Litigation Partner Eric Assouline, of Assouline & Berlowe

Human Resource Departments should take note, the overtime rules have now been clarified by the Department of Labor.

Over the years, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has attempted to change certain rules applicable to implementation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and increase the salary threshold for exempt employees from $455 per week (the level it has been at since 2004).

Many may recall that a rule to increase the salary thresholds for exemptions was first enjoined and subsequently invalidated by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in 2016.

A year later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held the appeal in abeyance pending further DOL rulemaking regarding a revised salary threshold.  In other words, the DOL has consistently enforced the 2004 salary level for the last 15 years.

The DOL has now announced a final rule which is expected to make 1.3 million American workers eligible for overtime pay under the FLSA.

In a nutshell, the rule, which goes into effect on January 1, 2020, accomplishes three primary objectives:

First, the rule updates the earnings thresholds – from $455 to $684 per week – necessary to exempt certain white collar positions, i.e., executive, administrative and professional employees, from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.

Second, the new rule will allow employers to meet up to 10% of the new salary level from nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions).

Third, the rule will increase the salary requirements for the “highly compensated employees (HCE)” exemption from $100,000 to $107,432 per year.

Again, please note that the final rule will be effective on January 1, 2020.

Additional information about the final rule is available at www.dol.gov/whd/overtime2019.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Ellen M. Leibovitch

Board Certified Labor & Employment Lawyer

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

2300 Glades Road

East Tower – Suite 135

Boca Raton, Florida 33431

Main: 561-361-6566

Direct: 561-948-2479

Assouline & Berlowe SuperLawyers 2019

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