Articles Tagged with wage and hour

Nearly three years after the launch of “Fight for 15”, a campaign aimed at boosting the minimum wage to $15 per hour, workers are enjoying some sweet success. The effort involves urging fast food workers in numerous cities around the country to take part in strikes and protests. In large cities like New York and San Francisco, the turnouts have been so huge that city and state officials are taking notice and changing public policy. For instance, Pittsburgh’s mayor, Bill Peduto, said city employees will receive at least $15 per hour by 2021, and the office of New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced state workers will make a minimum of $15 per hour by 2018.

The “Fight for 15” campaign describes workers who receive less than $15 per hour as “a voting bloc that can no longer be ignored.” Leading candidates for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination are definitely paying attention. Both Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have addressed strikers directly and offered encouragement.

The Service Employees International Union, a 2-million-member labor union, funds the campaign, but its successes haven’t led to an increase in due-paying members who could sustain the cause’s support. Therefore, without an ongoing source of funds, the campaign can’t continue indefinitely. However, at least in the meantime, “Fight for 15” wields powerful political muscle and plans to expand its efforts.

After a court ordered Tyson Foods to pay $5.8 million to workers in overtime pay in a class action suit, the food giant appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. Based on a recent hour-long argument session, say experienced court-watchers, the justices don’t appear to be receptive to Tyson’s claims that the lower court used an illegal method to determine damages. The company says the method in question, known as statistical averages, implies that all member of the group of 3,300 workers are identical to average employees.

Tyson contends the statistical average method mirrors the “trial by formula” reasoning that formed the basis of the high court’s rejection of an earlier major class action case. In that lawsuit, workers sued Walmart for denying them equal pay and promotion opportunities. The rejection of the case stemmed from the fact that the unfair treatment affected some workers more than others. In other words, their employment injuries weren’t uniform. While Tyson hopes the precedent this ruling set will lead to a Supreme Court victory, the justices appeared skeptical of the argument.

Both business advocates and consumer advocates are closely watching this case and awaiting the ruling. Those on the business side desire a Tyson victory, as it will put the brakes on what they feel are frivolous class action lawsuits. Conversely, consumer and worker advocates want a Tyson defeat, because they contend group claims hold companies accountable.

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has sent a clear message to the employers of home-healthcare workers and redefined exempt employees as only those who are directly hired by the person or the person’s family and not an outside agency.

This ruling updated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) definition that groups all companionship or domestic service workers together without differentiating between them. It means that even live-in caretakers will receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. The outside agency must pay their employees at least minimum wage plus overtime.

The Court considered a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke, that gave the Department of Labor the authority to interpret the companionship exemption when it implemented those standards. The DOL held that third-party workers were exempt, but Coke, a companionship worker, challenged that exemption and asked for minimum wage and overtime. Although the DOL upheld the exemption, the case set precedent in determining how the definition was applied. Thus, the Supreme Court agreed that the DOL had the authority to decide which workers were included and who was exempt in accordance with FLSA laws.

By a vote of 3-2, the National Labor Relations Board revised how it will decide joint-employer status, a move that will affect nearly three million temporary workers across the nation. The Board determined that the prior standard fell short of keeping up with workplace and financial needs, and the new standard represents the existing market more accurately.

The new definition for joint-employers includes the following:

1.    Both parties meet the criteria for employers according to common law, and /or

The Obama administration’s recent push for stronger labor laws has sparked an intense national conversation over what constitutes fair treatment and fair pay for workers.

Federal agencies, supported by the administration, recently brought a major case against McDonald’s, which we discussed in detail in a previous blog post. The fast-food giant has been charged with labor-law violations and coercive tactics to silence employees. Critics claim executives exploited and extended labor elections to deny union formation among McDonald’s employees. Some dubious company practices, like monitoring employees’ email accounts for hints of union organizations in off-hours, have now stopped. The case has the potential to influence labor regulations concerning pay, overtime, and healthcare.

The suit against McDonald’s is just one piece of important news, though. Promising new technological advances may soon streamline the processes by which workers can enforce and collect back pay. Additionally, legislation proposed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) may improve the way employees who work over 40 hours a week are compensated. If such legislation passes, more workers will qualify for time-and-a-half pay for overtime.

New York employment lawyers, restaurant owners, and employees throughout the country are watching with baited breath as pivotal litigation unfolds against McDonald’s. The civil rights suits filed against the fast food giant stem from employee complaints over workplace bullying, which claimants allege took place after they requested higher pay and better working conditions. The allegations include discrimination, threats, and reduced hours for broaching the subject of better wages and working conditions.

The media has called the suit the “fight for $15,” a reference to a push from labor advocates to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour. Currently, the minimum wage in New York is $8.75. While New York’s rate is technically above the federal standard for minimum wage by 55 cents, critics say this $8.75 figure is woefully inadequate to cover living expenses in New York City, even for those who work 40-hour weeks.

The fast food corporation is attempting to pawn the claim off on franchisee owners, but it appears that intense litigation may be headed for McDonald’s corporate office. That litigation is expected to begin in March, and case watchers believe it will likely lead to a long legal process.

Our New York employment attorneys have witnessed the awful impact of wage cuts and lower salaries on working conditions and employee morale. But what happens when wages go up — when hourly rates are raised on a city, state, or federal level? It’s easy to see how wage hikes work out well for employees. But can wage hikes also benefit business owners and employers?

Our answer is an emphatic yes. Here are five ways that wage hikes benefit everyone:

1.    Security and loyalty. Employees who have one well-paying job don’t need to constantly search for better employment. They don’t need to be working second jobs to make ends meet, leaving them exhausted and distracted at work. A well-paid employee has no incentive to go elsewhere and plenty of incentive to keep performance quality high.

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