BLOGS: Fair Labor Standards Act Law

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Friday, February 20, 2015, 3:11 PM

Womble Carlyle Launches Resource Page for Proposed Rules on "White Collar" Exemptions

Updated, September 19, 2017:  Due to the 2016 regulations being struck down by a federal court, we have removed the Resource Page as no longer relevant or accurate.

The last week of February is upon us, and the Department of Labor has not yet issued the highly anticipated new FLSA regulations which will propose changes to the white collar exemptions.  Announced by President Obama nearly a year ago, the proposed rules (which have already been postponed once) are currently scheduled for release sometime this month.  If the FLSA proposed rules become law, they are expected to dramatically change which employees can be classified as exempt, which in turn may significantly impact wages and overtime pay to workers.

Womble Carlyle is pleased to announce a Resource Page to help businesses prepare for these proposed rules, which will be the most significant change to the FLSA in more than a decade.  The Resource Page provides businesses with the latest information and updates on these proposed rules, including background information and references to key materials. 

The Resource Page can found here.

When the proposed rules are finally released, we look forward to offering our analysis and practical recommendations to assist businesses with understanding the proposed rules, and meeting the expected compliance challenges if the proposed rules become law.

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Friday, February 13, 2015, 8:46 AM

As Intern Season Approaches, Remember That Unpaid Internships Can Be Risky

Right now, many organizations are getting ready for a new class of interns to arrive in May when schools and colleges finish for the summer.  With fully laudable intentions, many organizations offer summer internships as a chance to allow students to get their feet wet in a business or industry, fully recognizing that the students’ contributions and added value, if any, are not that great.

Experience teaches that many organizations do not pay interns.  However, this is often a risky proposition.  Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the legal standard to qualify as an unpaid internship is actually quite high.  The consequence of failing to meet that legal standard—and in our experience many may not—is that the “intern” is deemed to be a misclassified employee, and would be entitled to be paid minimum wage and overtime for all of the hours worked as an unpaid intern. 

This exposure, including liquidated (i.e., double) damages and potential penalties and attorneys’ fees, can be significant. In addition, there could be tax exposure for any unpaid employment taxes and withholdings that were not made because the wages that should have paid were not.

So, if you are considering an unpaid internship program this summer, take the time to ensure it is legally compliant.  For those that want to take a closer look at their internship programs, our Client Alert on this issue provides a detailed summary of the compliance issues and risks, and practical tips for employers.  The Client Alert can be found here.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 2:10 PM

Wisconsin Joins DOL’s Worker Misclassification Initiative

On January 20, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that Wisconsin has also joined the growing list of states that have entered into formal agreements with the DOL to share information about worker misclassification.  Under the terms of a "partnership agreement," the DOL and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development agreed to share information about workers who may be improperly classified as independent contractors instead of employees.  The DOL's news release can be found here.

As noted here previously, workers who are misclassified as contractors may be denied benefits, minimum wage, and overtime pay that they might receive if properly classified as employees.  Likewise, the federal government and state taxing authorities miss out on payroll and other taxes that they would receive if the workers were properly classified. 

By sharing information, the DOL and the states participating in the initiative hope to reduce misclassification and increase compliance with employment, wage and hour, and tax laws.  The DOL reports that similar agreements have been entered into with the states of Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Utah and Washington.

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