In the most recent case, the Supreme Court ruled that an employee who verbally complains to the employer about wages, overtime, salary, exempt status or other concerns is protected from retaliation, just as an employee who files a written complaint is.
Many employers expected such a ruling and have long refrained from retaliation against employees who lodge verbal complaints regarding wage and hour issues.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that a negative action against an employee’s spouse or relative was also illegal retaliation, under FLSA.
In Kasten v.Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, employee Kevin Kasten complained repeatedly that he and other hourly employees were entitled to payment for the time spent putting on and taking off special protective gear required in the industry. In particular, Kasten complained that the location of the time clocks – between the work floor and the locker room used for changing – made it impossible for employees to be paid for this time, as the FLSA requires.
Saint-Gobain argued that Kasten’s many gripes and confrontations with supervisors about this payment practice did not constitute an actual complaint, because it was not in writing. They argued that Kevin Kasten was fired for not clocking in and out properly, not as illegal retaliation for his many complaints. They argued that if (more…)
In Camara v. Attorney General, the state’s highest court determined that an employer could not make wage deductions when the employer had unilateral power to determine the employee’s negligence and the amount of the damages. Michael Camara is Vice President of ABC Disposal, a garbage company based in New Bedford, and the employer in question.
In this case, truck drivers for ABC Disposal Service were given a choice after an accident. They could accept disciplinary action for causing the accident, or they could pay the company for the damages incurred. Payment was made through weekly payroll deductions with the employee’s written consent. The deductions were small enough so the employee still earned at least the minimum wage each week.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court determined that these deductions were not allowed because the company determined who was at fault for the accident and set a dollar amount on the damages. A company safety office would investigate the accident and report his findings. The supervisory safety manager would then (more…)
Employers need to be aware of a number of deadlines to be met in the first quarter of 2011.
On January 10, 2011 the final regulations for GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, went into effect. These regulations require employers not to collect information on an employee’s genetic makeup, including information on the health status of family members. The final regulations include model language that employers should include in every employee handbook. In addition, employers should use language that avoids genetic information when asking questions about employee health or absences, such as, “Without disclosing any protected genetic information, can you tell me why you were absent yesterday?” Every supervisor and manager should be trained to avoid discrimination under GINA.
By January 31, 2010 employers must implement new tax tables under the new tax bill. The IRS has recently released instructions to help employers implement the 2011 reduction in payroll taxes. These measures will include a reduction in FICA that takes the place of the Make Work Pay employee tax credit. Social security withholding is reduced by 2 %, from 6.2% to 4.2%.
OSHA 300A reporting posters must be completed and posted by February 1, 2011. This annual recap of all the time-lost accidents in 2010 keeps employers and employees informed, and helps them avoid future accidents. Employees should not be listed by name on the form, to protect private medical information. These forms must remain on display until April 30, 2011.
Employers have until February 22, 2011 to make comments on workplace accommodations for nursing mothers under the health care reform act, also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA. That law amended the FLSA to require employers to offer reasonable unpaid break time to nursing mothers to express breast milk for their babies. Mothers are entitled to this accommodation for one year after the baby’s birth. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that usually this is 15-20 minutes, but the amount of time may vary in different situations.
The employer is also required to make reasonable accommodations to provide a break space other than a bathroom for the mother to use a breast pump. The space must be private. The Department of Labor is particularly interested in comments about (more…)
On the same date, the Colorado minimum wage for tipped employees will also increase 12 cents, from $4.22 to $4.34 per hour. Under Colorado law, employers can take a maximum tip credit against the minimum wage of $3.02 per hour. However, if the employee does not average at least $7.36 per hour in tips and wages combined, the employer must pay the difference as wages.
Colorado employers must update their labor law posters, including minimum wage posters. Employers are required to prominently display the posters in an area accessible by all employees.
Colorado is one of a dozen states that provide for an annual adjustment in the state minimum wage based upon the cost of living. On January 1, 2010 the state minimum wage actually decreased 4 cents per hour from $7.28 to $7.24. However, most employees were still entitled to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The annual adjustment is base don the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers in the Denver-Boulder-Greeley combined metro area. Colorado is one of the few states that permit a reduction in the minimum wage.
The Colorado minimum wage generally applies to private sector (non-government) employees in certain industries including: retail, service, food, beverage, health, medical and commercial support service. It does not apply to government employees or those in manufacturing, construction or the wholesale industry.
The statues provide myriad (more…)
The Arizona minimum wage for tipped employees also increases 10 cents from $4.25 to $4.35 per hour on the same date. Arizona includes car wash attendants, hair dressers, barbers, valets and service bartenders as tipped employees, along with waiters, waitresses and busboys. However, if the tipped employees wages and tips do not average at least $7.35 per hour worked (more…)