Tag Archives: FLSA

Labor and Employment Law Annual Update

Department of Labor

Partner Ellen Leibovitch, Florida Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law, will be speaking at the 17th Labor and Employment Law Annual Update and Certification Review. The annual course, presented by the The Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Committee and the Labor and Employment Law Section, is an advanced level course covering a wide array of labor an employment topic.  Ellen will be speaking on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on January 26, 2017.  Given the recent law changes and case law surrounding the changes, this will be an informative panel about the FLSA.  Details about the event are below.

January 26 – 27, 2017
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
6000 W. Osceola Parkway
Kissimmee, FL 34746
(407) 586-0000

For those interested in attending, you can register for the event at the Florida Bar website.

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/

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Significant Changes to Overtime Regulations!

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Just this week, the Department of Labor (DOL) released its much-anticipated final changes to the overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new guidelines will go into effect on December 1, 2016, so now is the time for covered employers to start preparing.

What has changed?

Most significantly, the new rules change the salary requirements for exempt employees. Under the old rules, employees could be classified as exempt from overtime if they were earning a salary of $455/week (or $23,660/year) and if they performed exempt professional, managerial, executive or administrative duties. Under the new rules, however, employees must earn $913/week (or $47,476/year) – MORE THAN DOUBLE THE PRIOR SALARY LEVEL – to meet the salary component of the exemption. The salary threshold will automatically be updated every three years, so this is a moving target. Note that the final rule did not include a change to the duties test.

Also, the new rule raises the salary threshold level for the highly compensated employee (HCE) exemption from $100,000 to $134,004. To be exempt, a HCE must customarily and regularly perform any one or more of the exempt duties or responsibilities of a professional, managerial, executive or administrative employee and have the primary duty of performing office or non-manual work. Like the standard salary level, the highly compensated employee salary level will increase every three years, beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

What does this mean?

For exempt employees earning at least $913/week, nothing will change. However, employees who are now classified as exempt but who are earning less than $913/week will lose their exempt status as of December 1, 2016. Becoming non-exempt means that these employees will be eligible for overtime pay when working over 40 hours in a work week, which also means that these employees will be required to record their hours worked. For exempt employees who never “punched a clock,” this may be demoralizing, although some may welcome the opportunity to earn overtime.

Note that employers will be able to count non-discretionary bonuses, incentive payments and commissions toward as much as 10% of the salary requirement. However, such payments must be made on at least a quarterly basis.

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What should you do?

Step 1: EVALUATION

  • Determine which employees will be impacted by these new rules, if anyone.
  • Assess the cost of reclassifying these employees as non-exempt or increasing their salaries in accordance with the new guidelines to keep these employees exempt.
  • For employees who will be reclassified as non-exempt, no additional costs will result:
    • if the newly non-exempt employees do not work overtime. Remember that even if you have a policy that requires all overtime hours be approved in advance, non-exempt employees who work over 40 hours a week must be paid at the time and one-half rate.
    • if the hourly rate paid to the newly non-exempt employees is reduced to take into account the need for these employees to work some overtime hours each week.
  • Remember to train all newly-exempt employees on your time-keeping procedures.

Employers impacted by these new rules may need to consider covering increased overtime costs by reducing benefits, but this will certainly result in a drop in employee morale.

Step 2: COMMUNICATION

  • Notify impacted employees that changes are the result of new rules imposed by the DOL rather than a company decision
  • Assure reclassified employees that the changes do reflect the employer’s opinion of their work or the employees’ value to the company

As always, you should contact legal counsel for any specific questions you may have about the applicability of the FLSA to your business, these new rules and how to best implement same.

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/

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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

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Breaking News! Federal Court Puts Home Health Care Rule Changes on Hold!

laborAssouline & Berlowe, P.A. Board Certified Partner Ellen Leibovitch recently spoke at a seminary regarding important changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that were set to take effect on January 1, 2015.  These changes are relevant to third party agencies who employ companions and live-in domestic service employees.

After this seminar, on December 22, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia – in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, 1:14-cv-00967-RJL – struck down significant portions of the new rules which were set to go into effect on January 1, 2015.  As Mrs. Leibovitch spoke about at the seminar , the new regulations would have 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).  The federal court determined that the Department of Labor (DOL) exceeded its authority and improperly sought to impose obligations on employers in violation of the plain language of the FLSA.

What does this mean to you and your businesses?  While the decision was a victory for many in the home health care industry, the court did not strike down the entire regulation, including the new definition of “companionship.”  What is clear from the decision is that the new rules will NOT be applied to live-in domestic care workers who reside in the private household where they are employed.  These workers will NOT, as the DOL had planned, be protected by the FLSA’s  overtime requirements, although the minimum wage requirements and the record-keeping requirements will remain enforceable as of January 1, 2015.

As for companions (not live-ins), the rules are still somewhat unclear.  It may take days or weeks to get a better handle on the situation, so please be on alert for further developments.  While it would appear that the rush to comply with the new rules has come to a grinding halt, everyone should remain proactive and ready for what happens next.  Mrs. Leibovitch will attempt to stay on the forefront and provide information as gathered.

Ellen M. Leibovitch is a Florida Bar Board Certified Labor & Employment lawyer and head of the firm’s labor and employment practice.  If Mrs. Leibovitch can be of any assistance to you regarding these rule changes, please do not hesitate to contact her using the information 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/

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Home Health Care – Labor Law Changes Take Effect Jan. 1, 2015

Home Health Care

Significant changes in the law become effective on January 1, 2015

January 1, 2015 marks the end of the long-standing “companionship exemption” for agency-employed direct care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Most importantly, the death of the exemption means that companions and live-in domestic workers who were previously deemed “exempt” from the overtime requirements of the FLSA will now be eligible for significantly higher wages, i.e., time and one-half of a worker’s regular rate of pay for all hours over 40 worked in a week.  Conversely, this means that businesses employing such workers need to adjust their business models to ensure these workers are properly paid for all hours worked.

In adopting these new rules, the Department of Labor pulled no punches when it noted, “[T]he primary effect [of the changes] is the transfer of income from home care agencies. . . to direct care workers.”

Undoubtedly, the changes in the law will expose home care agencies to significant wage and hour liability unless they have prepared in advance to comply with the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements.  Among other things, the changes in the law will require, among other things, the following:

  • Overtime pay for all hours over 40 worked in a week;
  • Payment for sleep time or other breaks unless the employee is completely relieved of all duties during these times
  • Payment for meal periods when the employee is eating with and available to assist the employer’s customer
  • Payment for off-duty time if the employee is considered “on call” on the employer’s premises so that the employee cannot use the time effectively for personal reasons
  • Payment for travel time from one worksite to another during the day

In order to assist business which employ these workers to comply with these changes, Assouline & Berlowe, P.A., is hosting a FREE breakfast seminar on December 17, 2014 from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at Lakeside Terrace, 7800 Glades Road, in Boca Raton.  During the seminar, the changes in the law will be outlined and a discussion had on what businesses need to do to become compliant with the FLSA’s requirements.

laborEllen M. Leibovitch, a Florida Bar Board Certified Labor & Employment lawyer and head of the firm’s labor and employment practice, will explain to whom the new laws apply, how businesses will be impacted by the changes and recommendations of best practices for compliance. Assisting Ellen in the presentation will be Michael Seifert and Wendra Johnson, SPHR, of CBIZ Payroll, who will highlight the time, payroll and other records that employers need to retain in order to be compliant with the law as of January 1.  Important to remember is that an employer’s failure to maintain proper records is, in itself, a violation of the FLSA.

If you are interested in learning more about the changes in the law applicable to businesses employing direct care workers (companions), please RSVP today and plan to attend this event.  While attendance is FREE, you must be registered in advance to attend.  Please send your response to rsvp@assoulineberlowe.com.  If you have any questions, call 561-361-6566.

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, and Corporate Law

Miami • Ft. Lauderdale • Boca Raton

 

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LABOR LAW Update – 11th Circuit Clarifies Liquidated Damages Awards in FLSA Cases

11th Circuit Seal

In the case of Davila v. Menendez, decided on June 10, 2013, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which controls all federal courts in Florida, clarified the respective roles of the jury and the district court in deciding issues relevant to claims arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims.

In the Davila case, the trial court entered a directed verdict in favor of the defendant employer on the issue of intentional, reckless or willful behavior, thus precluding an award of liquidated (double compensatory) damages.  The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the jury was first required to decide whether the defendant willfully violated the FLSA before the court could rule on liquidated damages.

The Eleventh Circuit agreed and held that the district court erred when it entered judgment as a matter of law that the defendant did not violate FLSA.  The appellate court clarified that the district court was required to await the finding of the jury as to whether the defendant willfully or in good faith violated the law before assessing liquidated damages.  The court further noted that a jury’s finding of willfulness will establish both the period of limitations (willful violations of FLSA allow for a three-year look back period whereas non-willful violations allow only a two-year look back) and the propriety of liquidated damages.  A jury’s finding of willfulness mandates liquidated damages whereas a non-willful finding leaves the question of liquidated damages to the district court’s discretion.

Davila v. Menendez, __ F.3d __, 2013 WL 2460199 (C.A.11 (Fla.)).

For more information on any labor or employment issues, please call

Labor & Employment Partner Ellen Leibovitch.

For more information on Mrs. Leibovitch’s practice, go to: http://www.assoulineberlowe.com/Ellen_Leibovitch.asp or you can contact her by e-mail at eml@assoulineberlowe.com

Assouline & Berlowe is a full service business law firm with offices in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Boca Raton.

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

Miami: 305-567-5576

Ft. Lauderdale: 965-929-1899

Boca Raton: 561-361-6566

 

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