Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 3:52 PM

No April Fool's

Today's posting features two quite-different items, neither of which involves litigation (yet):

The US Department of Labor has published three more opinion letters (2008-1, 2008-2, and 2008-5NA). the second and third are of interest only to public-sector employers, since they deal with employees who substitute shifts and "fire protection and law enforcement personnel performing occasional or sporadic" civilian duties. However, Opinion 2008-1 concludes that purchasing agents for a motor home manufacturer qualify for the administrative exemption, and the reasoning is instructive. The link - www.dol.gov/esa/whd/opinion/opinion.htm - leads you to the DOL website, a very useful resource which you should bookmark; free e-mail subscriptions are also available.

The other news comes from California, where three bills are pending in the legislature which would, if enacted, slow the rush toward a complete abdication of the state's wage and hour laws to the plaintiffs' bar. The most ambitious (and, therefore, least likely to receive serious consideration) is SB 1192, a measure designed to overturn the decision in Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions. Murphy, you may recall, dealt with the issue of employees who missed their required meal breaks and were therefore eligible to receive triple back pay plus attorneys' fees. SB 1192 would replace that remedy with a civil penalty only, and would afford the complaining employee only one year, not three, to file suit. Plaintiffs' attorneys are aghast, fearing that the Golden State may not prove as lucrative for them as it has in the past. For a more detailed discussion, see http://employment.law360.com/Secure/printview.aspx?id=51380 (subscription required).

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