Tag Archives: DOL

New Overtime Regulations Impacting You

 

 

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Board Certified Labor and Employment Partner Ellen Leibovitch will be speaking on October 20, 2016 about important changes to the overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that will go into effect on December 1, 2016.  Ellen, who recently appeared in the Boca Raton Observer, will discuss what employers need to know about the changes to the FLSA to protect their companies.

Please join the South Palm Beach County Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Committee on October 20, 2016 for breakfast and a panel discussion on the scope of the new rules and best practices for making sure your business is fully compliant as of day one.  To register online, click here.

Ellen is a Florida Board Certified Labor and Employment Attorney with Assouline & Berlowe, P.A.  For any employment and labor questions, please contact Ellen below.

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

1801 N. Military Trail, Suite 160

Boca Raton, Florida 33431

Main: (561) 361-6566

Fax: (561) 361-6466

Email: EML@assoulineberlowe.com

http://www.assoulineberlowe.com/

Intellectual Property, Labor & Employment Law, Bankruptcy, Commercial Litigation, Real Estate, and Corporate Law

Miami • Ft. Lauderdale • Boca Raton

 

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New Changes to the FLSA and Compensation toLive-In Domestic Care Workers

Department of Labor

In December 2014, Ellen Leibovitch held a seminar to discuss changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) relevant to third party agencies who employ companions and live-in domestic service employees.  The new regulations – which were set to go into effect on January 1, 2015 – made the long-standing exemptions to the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements for companions and live-in domestic employees inapplicable to third-party employers (like home health care agencies).

Just days after the seminar, a federal court struck down the new regulations.  Since then, the issue has been batted around the courts, but on August 21, 2015, a federal appellate court issued a unanimous opinion affirming the validity of the new regulations.  The appellate court’s opinion became effective on October 13, 2015.  The Department of Labor (DOL) will not begin enforcement of the new rules until November 12, 2015 but, more than likely, the DOL will not begin prosecuting offenders until January 1, 2016.

For more details, go to http://www.dol.gov/whd/homecare/litigation.htm#.VilP87RgRps.email

So what does this mean to you and your businesses?  For those who have been taking a wait-and-see approach or who had hoped that everything would remain unchanged, the time to act is now.  Businesses need to come to grip with the fact that live-in domestic care workers who reside in the private household where they are employed and home-health companions are going to be subject to the FLSA’s overtime and minimum wage requirements as well as the record-keeping requirements.  Among other things, this means these workers need to be paid a minimum wage (currently $8.05 in the State of Florida but likely to increase as of January 1, 2016), that employers need to maintain accurate records of the hours such employees work each day and each week and that overtime must be paid for all hours worked in excess of 40 each week.

Please note that these new rules apply only to employees, not independent contractors.

For additional information about these changes, please contact Ellen M. Leibovitch below:

Ellen M. Leibovitch

Florida Board Certified Labor and Employment Attorney

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

1801 N. Military Trail, Suite 160

Boca Raton, Florida 33431

Main:  (561) 361-6566

Fax: (561) 361-6466

Email: EML@assoulineberlowe.com

http://www.assoulineberlowe.com/

Intellectual Property, Labor & Employment Law, Bankruptcy, Commercial Litigation, Real Estate, and Corporate Law

Miami • Ft. Lauderdale • Boca Raton

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Labor Law – Make Sure You are NOT DOA When the DOL Comes Knocking – Hire an Attorney

Knock Knock.  Who’s There?  The Department of Labor (the “DOL”).

The DOL is here to see you – now what?!

Imagine the scene: you are the owner of a business, not too big but not small either.  You have done pretty well for yourself and have grossed over $500,000 in revenues over the past few years.  You have a staff of employees, most of whom are hourly.  It’s a typical day, business as usual, when all of a sudden your receptionist announces that some people from the Department of Labor (DOL) are here to see you.  A myriad of thoughts and questions race through your mind: “Why is the DOL here?  I never got a letter or any notice that I had any problems!  Why didn’t they call and make an appointment?  Am I in trouble?”

One thought that will not likely go through your mind is this: “I need to call my attorney.”  The reason for that is simple: most business owners are used to solving problems by employing obvious and simple solutions and turning on their best “customer service” skills to nip problems in the bud.  Consequently, you walk into the lobby to meet your “guests,” show them into your office (or preferably to a conference room), sit them down, offer them a cup of coffee from your brand new Keurig machine, ask how you can help and wait for a response.  Little do you know that the DOL is already five steps ahead of you, and they are waiting to pounce.  These DOL investigators come armed with the tools of their trade, starting with a detailed, comprehensive, all-encompassing request for documents that would take hours, days or maybe even longer to compile.  They are not impressed with your graciousness; they want blood, and they want it now.

At this point, most business owners are still thinking they have it under control.  Just give the DOL what they want, and they will go away.  If only it were that simple.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, the first shot across the bow.  Your business is now in the DOL’s sight, and the DOL will not leave without their pound of flesh.  If you have not thought about bringing in legal counsel before, now is the time to make the call.

You may be wondering how the DOL chose your business.  Usually, the DOL will act on either an anonymous complaint, a follow-up from a prior investigation or a focused concentration on businesses similar to yours.  The anonymous complaint is usually made by a current or former disgruntled employee who believes that you are not paying what you owe him.  Chances are, if you are not paying one employee in accordance with the law, then you are probably making the same errors across the board.  The “follow-up” investigation comes after a prior investigation, just when you thought the DOL was through with you.  The DOL loves to pop in to make sure that you are following through with all the things required under the law – like keeping accurate time and payroll records, making sure hourly employees are getting paid time and one-half for overtime hours worked each week, not docking employees who work through lunch, etc. (you know, all the things for which you were cited and paid dearly for previously).  The third type of investigation commences with the DOL’s decision to focus on specific industries in the local geographic area based on a history of reported violations.  Some South Florida industries that have been on the DOL’s radar in the past include restaurants (especially those with tip pools), farms and nurseries, dry cleaners, home health agencies, etc.

So even if you did not think about calling your attorney before you offered the DOL investigators a seat in your conference room and a cup of coffee, do not fear.  A skilled labor & employment law attorney can help you communicate with, respond to and negotiate an exchange of documents (and more) with the DOL.  A labor & employment attorney speaks the DOL’s language and is invaluable in these type of situations.  Regardless whether you hire an attorney before you meet the DOL investigator, after you provide copies of all your business’ financial statements and tax returns or after the DOL has determined that you owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages and penalties, a seasoned labor & employment attorney will be able to help.

For more information, please feel free to contact me.

Ellen M. Leibovitch

Board Certified Labor & Employment Lawyer

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

2700 N. Military Trail, Suite 150

Boca Raton, Florida33431

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

Fax: 561-361-6466

Email: eml@assoulineberlowe.com

http://www.assoulineberlowe.com/

Intellectual Property, Labor & Employment Law, Bankruptcy, Commercial Litigation, and Corporate Law

Miami • Ft.Lauderdale • Boca Raton

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What’s Next for the Department of Labor?

On March 27, 2012, members of The Florida Bar Labor & Employment Law Section Wage & Hour Administration Liaison Subcommittee participated in a conference call with representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage-Hour Division’s Jacksonville District Office.  The purpose of the call was to gain insight into the DOL’s strategic plans for 2012.

Employers who are in any of the following industries should be aware that the DOL has your business on their radar:

  1. residential construction industry – the DOL will be targeting subcontractors on these projects (all trades are subject to review)
  2. agricultural industry
  3. limited food establishments – i.e., restaurants which focus on a singular food items (like subs, chicken wings, etc.) – which typically serve a high volume of tourists and which employ a transient work force
  4. projects covered by the Davis-Bacon Act
  5. industries employing a high volume of independent contractors (such as the cable TV industry, construction industry, etc.), which are notorious for misclassification
  6. inSouth Floridaparticularly, the DOL’s “white table cloth” initiative will target upscale restaurants which allow servers to retain all their tips but pay no hourly wages

The DOL is also seeking to expand its pilot program for the collection of liquidated damages (LD) during the investigative process and sees the imposition of LD as a reasonable deterrent to future violations.  The DOL will be seeking to impose LD on employers who should have known that a violation has occurred or where a reasonable person would know there has been a violation of law.  The likelihood of LD is even greater when the employer is a repeat violator.  Nonetheless, the DOL will negotiate certain reductions, particularly when the employer enters into an agreement to pay back wages.  The DOL has sought to involve the solicitor in investigations when the intent is to impose LD.

Another hot topic for the DOL is tip pools.  The DOL has engaged in wholesale invalidation of tip pools when any portion of the pool is co-opted by the employer.  The DOL has imposed a near zero-tolerance policy when it perceives the tip pool has been tainted in any way, shape or form.

Given the DOL’s intentions and the meteoric rise of wage & hour lawsuits throughout the State of Florida, employers are wise to consult with skilled legal counsel to ensure that employees (and independent contractors) are properly classified as such, that employees are properly classified as exempt/non-exempt, that non-exempt employees are being paid overtime, that systems are in place for accurate record-keeping, that the employer’s payroll practices comply with the law, that tip pooling arrangements are valid and well-documented, and that wages are being paid at the proper rates.

Ellen M. Leibovitch, Esq. – Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by teh Florida Bar

eml@assoulineberlowe.com

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

www.assoulineberlowe.com

With Offices in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Boca Raton

 

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