North America

Proposed revisions to tip credit regulations will impact employers

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has a tip credit provision that allows employers to pay a reduced hourly wage or subminimum wage to tipped employees, provided the tipped employees receive enough tips to bring their hourly rate to the prevailing minimum wage. Under section 3(m) of the FLSA, which defines the term “wage,” an employer of tipped employees can satisfy its obligation to pay those employees the federal minimum wage by paying a lower direct cash wage (at least $2.13 per hour) and counting a limited amount of its employees’ tips as a partial credit to satisfy the difference between the direct cash wage paid and the federal minimum wage (known as a “tip credit”) if it follows certain requirements. Read more…

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$2.175M HIPAA settlement highlights breach reporting

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced its settlement with Sentara Hospitals for failing to properly report a breach and for allowing its parent corporation to create, receive, maintain or transmit protected health information (PHI) of Sentara affiliated hospitals without entering into a business associate agreement (BAA). Read more…

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Howard & Howard Marks 150th Anniversary with Donations to Ele’s Place and Make-A-Wish of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Mich., December 19, 2019 – Howard & Howard has made donations to both Ele’s Place and Make-A-Wish Michigan, each in the amount of $6,250. The gifts are part of the firm’s “12 Months of Giving” initiative celebrating its 150th anniversary.

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Addressing workplace violence during the holiday season

While the holiday season is supposed to bring joy and happiness, for many adults it also brings an enormous amount of stress. Lack of sleep and increased pressure at work and at home often causes tensions to run high and tempers to run short, which unfortunately can lead to increased confrontation and even workplace violence. Having proper workplace violence policies in place and ensuring that your employees are aware of places they can go to get help are crucial this time of year.  Read more…

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Second Circuit Approves Offers of Judgment in FLSA Cases

On December 6, 2019, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that judicial approval is not required for offers of judgment to settle Fair Labor and Standards Act (“FLSA”) claims made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68(a). This development may provide employers with a valuable strategic tool for use in FLSA cases, as least in the Second Circuit, allowing the parties to include terms in offers of judgment that the courts might disallow were court approval required.

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NLRB Reverses Purple Communications – Holds Employer May Restrict Employees’ Use of Email and Other Information Technology Systems

On December 17, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) ruled that an employer’s rule prohibiting use of its email system for nonbusiness purposes did not violate employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The 3-1 decision in Caesars Entertainment Corp d/b/a Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, NLRB Case No. 28-CA-060841, overturns the Board’s 2014 decision in Purple Communications, which held that work rules prohibiting employees from using employer-provided email systems for union activity were presumptively invalid.

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The Board Restores Balance in Collective Bargaining by Reinstating Employers’ Ability to Unilaterally Cease Dues Checkoff After Contract Expiration

Approximately four years ago, during the Obama Administration, the National Labor Relations Board upended decades of well-settled precedent by making it unlawful for employers to unilaterally cease dues checkoff after contract expiration.  This week, the Republican-majority Board in Valley Hospital Medical Center, Inc. reversed that unprincipled departure from established precedent and restored balance and stability in collective bargaining negotiations.

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New Fair Warning Act of 2019 would impact more small businesses

On November 20, 2019, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) proposed legislation that would require more small businesses to give their employees an advance warning before closing their doors.

H.R. 5205, the Fair Warning Act of 2019, which is supported by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), would amend a 1988 law called the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act).  The WARN Act currently requires employers to give 60 days advance notice to employees who may experience an employment loss due to a plant closing or mass layoff that effects 50 or more full–time employees at a single site of employment. An employer under the WARN Act must have at least 100 or more full-time employees. Read more…

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Take 5 Newsletter: Five Quick Tips on Wage and Hour Compliance

It seems as though there is a minefield that employers must navigate to ensure that they fulfill their wage and hour obligations to their employees. Employers must somehow comply with overlapping and seemingly contradictory federal, state, district, county, and local requirements. The wave of civil actions that are filed against employers alleging wage and hour violations is not slowing. And given the potential financial consequences for non-compliance, illustrated in part by a $102 million award for technical paystub violations, meeting these requirements must be a priority for all employers.

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New London Connecticut Superior Court Jury Awards $839,423 Verdict for Theft of U.S. Navy Underwater Drone Project Trade Secrets

A New London Connecticut Superior Court jury awarded an $839,423 verdict in November 2019, involving theft of trade secrets for a $70 million U.S. Navy underwater drone project. This case, LBI, Inc. v. Sparks, et al., KNL-cv12-6018984-S, is a classic example of the blatant theft of an employer’s confidential and proprietary information that is so easily traceable to electronic files – and the costly consequences for the defendant employer’s complicity in that trade secret misappropriation.

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