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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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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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EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE – Significant Changes to Overtime Regulations!

 

For loyal followers of these updates, this Department of Labor “update” may seem like déjà vu.  Indeed, three years ago I sent out an update notifying you that the Department of Labor (DOL) had released final changes to the overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and that the changes were scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016.  Well, as it turned out, the new regulations never did go into effect, but the DOL recently decided to revisit the issue.

So what’s new?

In a nutshell, the proposed rule (which is expected to go into effect in January 2020) would require that all employees earning less than $35,308 per year (or $679/week) – regardless of their job duties – be paid overtime for working 40 hours in a work week.  Overtime is typically equal to one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.  This means that employees who are now exempt from receiving overtime will no longer remain exempt if they earn less than $35,308 per year.

Without sounding like the boy who cried wolf, now is the time for covered employers to start preparing.

What does this mean?

For exempt employees earning at least $679/week, nothing will change.  However, employees who are now classified as exempt but who are earning less than $679/week will lose their exempt status if and when the new rule goes into effect.

Becoming non-exempt means that these employees will be eligible for overtime pay when working over 40 hours in a work week, and it 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.

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

Board Certified Labor & Employment Lawyer

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

1801 N. Military Trail, Suite 160

Boca Raton, Florida 33431

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

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eml@assoulineberlowe.com

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Ellen M. Leibovitch is a 2015 Finalist for Leaders in Law!

Leaders in LawAssouline & Berlowe, P.A. is proud to announce that Boca Raton Partner Ellen M. Leibovitch has been nominated for the 2015 Leaders in Law Award in Labor and Employment Law.  The South Florida Business & Wealth Leaders in Law Awards, created by Lifestyle Media Group, honors lawyers, law firms, and corporate counsel that promote excellence in their field of law, maintain the highest level of ethics, are committed to their community, and are proven leaders in their field.

Candidates for the Leaders  in Law Award are judged on outstanding litigation, advocacy, counseling, and advancements to the legal profession, along with contributions to the advancement of the bar, including public service, bar association activities, and pro bono activities.

The South Florida’s Leaders in Law April 29, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. at The Gallery of Amazing Things, 481 South Federal Highway, Dania Beach, FL 33004.  To purchased tickets to the event, click here.

Ms. Leibovitch is proud to be nominated as a finalist for such a prestigious award.  As part of her labor and employment law practice, Ms. Leibovitch routinely counsel clients on employee handbooks, training, and audits.  Employers receive training on topics such as, recognizing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Managers also need to know the dos and don’ts in hiring decisions, employee complaints, and complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Also, some employers use the same employment applications, handbooks, and other forms for years without updating these forms with changes in the law.

Assouline & Berlowe is available to review employer policies, procedures, systems and documentation to ensure compliance with all applicable local, state and federal employment laws.  These preventative exercises will help all employers reduce the costs of non-compliance and avoid litigation in the future.  The often used maxim, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, is highly applicable for these type of employment matters.

For a thorough review of your employer policies and procedures, or for any questions about the Leaders in Law award, 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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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/

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

Miami • Ft. Lauderdale • Boca Raton

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The Boca Raton office of Assouline & Berlowe has moved!

Assouline & Berlowe’s Boca Raton, Florida office has recently moved to 1801 N. Military Trail (Suite 160), Boca Raton, Florida 33431.  Our Boca Raton office includes Partner Peter Koziol, head of the Intellectual Property Litigation practice, and Partner Ellen Leibovitch, Florida Board Certified and head of the Labor & Employment Law practice.

Mr. Koziol frequently counsels clients regarding their intellectual property needs.  Whether you need advice on protecting your inventions and intellectual property, or if you have recently been sued for infringement, Mr. Koziol is well versed to assess the situation and recommend the best course of action.  In today’s legal climate, patent assertion entities, or patent trolls as they are commonly referred to, are actively enforcing their IP portfolio against alleged infringers.  If you or your company need help defending an infringement lawsuit, contact Peter Koziol.

Ms. Leibovitch focuses her law practice on labor and employment counseling and litigation, in addition to commercial and business litigation.  If you are starting a new position and need an attorney to draft or review an employment agreement, call Ellen Leibovitch to make sure your rights are protected.  Or, if your company is setting up or modifying internal employee handbooks, non-compete agreements, or other employee-related agreements, Ellen can provide you the appropriate counseling to ensure applicable state and federal laws are followed.

Again, please remember that our Boca Raton office has changed physical location, but all our other contact information remains the same.

For more information on your business needs, call the attorneys at ASSOULINE & BERLOWE – The BUSINESS LAW Firm

http://www.assoulineberlowe.com

Miami (305) 567-5576

Ft. Lauderdale (954) 929-1899

Boca Raton (561) 361-6566

ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.

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

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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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