Posts Tagged ‘wage and hour suits’

Choke the “gig economy,” gag workplace innovation

Amazon is hiring on-demand drivers to implement its Amazon Flex same-day-delivery service. Given the confused state of federal wage-hour FLSA law as inherited from the 1930s, and the ever intensifying legal pressure from class action lawyers and various levels of government, will this arrangement eventually be upheld as legal? Who knows? “By the time courts and Congress take a decade to reshape labor law, the companies will have moved on to the next thing.” [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism]

Or is even this too optimistic a view? The premise is that the labor law apparatus would like to catch up with the cool new economy, but is just too klutzy and slow. But the sad truth may be that catching up isn’t the point: the public officials in charge of the system, and the unions that back them, don’t particularly mind whether they choke off innovative forms of work organization.

EEOC pay reporting: the better to sue you with, my dear

“Under a new rule proposed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, all companies with more than 100 employees would be required to submit summary pay data each year. Since 1966, large companies have reported to the EEOC the number of their employees by sex, race, ethnicity and job group. The new proposal would add to that list pay data in 12 salary ranges, [with individual salaries] grouped together to protect privacy.” [USA Today, EEOC press release] “The data will be used to identify employers that may be engaging in pay discrimination so that the agency can target its enforcement resources where problems may be likeliest to exist. The proposal would cover more than 63 million U.S. workers, according to the White House. The plan… won’t require legislative approval.” [WSJ]

Aside from driving a high volume of litigation by the EEOC itself, the scheme will also greatly benefit private lawyers who sue employers, including class action lawyers. An employer might then weather the resulting litigation siege by showing that its numbers were good enough, or not. Would today’s Labor Department and EEOC policies look much different if the Obama administration frankly acknowledged that it was devising them with an eye toward maximum liability and payouts?

Labor and employment roundup

  • “Outdoor guides to Obama: Take a hike” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner; Labor Department imposes higher federal-contractor minimum wage on outfitters operating in national parks, though they do not fit conventional definition of contractors]
  • Los Angeles: “Gov’t Emails Cast Doubt On Berkeley Minimum Wage Study” [Connor Wolf, Daily Caller]
  • Video: David Boaz (Cato) debates Chai Feldblum (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) on identity in the workplace [Atlantic “Ideas”]
  • Oyster visas: when even Sen. Barbara Mikulski says labor regulations go too far, maybe they go too far [Rachel Weiner, Washington Post]
  • Lawsuit: California shouldn’t be letting private employees work seven days in a row whether they want to or not [Trevor Burrus, Cato; Mendoza v. Nordstrom brief, Supreme Court of California]
  • One hopes U.S. Senate will think carefully before ratifying international labor conventions [Richard Trumka and Craig Becker, Pacific Standard]
  • “We’re going to overturn every rock in their lives to find out about their lifestyles”: union chief vows to go after lawmakers seeking to break county liquor monopoly in Montgomery County, Maryland [Bethesda Magazine]

Tipping as progressive bugaboo

The current trend in social justice circles is to disapprove of tipping, and not coincidentally wage and hour law has been ratcheting up the pressure on tip-based compensation arrangements, both by curtailing employers’ leeway to count tip income as a credit toward regular wages, and by more intense litigation pressure on tip pooling and similar arrangements. Such changes alone will probably not suffice to kill the custom, so we can look forward to continuing innovation in other legal weaponry aimed at it, such as — for instance — theories that tipping aids and abets pay discrimination [Workplace Prof]

“One effect of all this regulation is to essentially increase the minimum viable size of any business”

Wage and hour, employee classification and Obamacare regulations are transforming the nature of employment, argues Coyote. And in a development that will surprise few of those who watch this area, it’s been another record year for federal wage and hour lawsuits [Insurance Journal]

Lowballing the cost of junior-manager overtime

How reliable are projections from the Department of Labor about the cost of the President’s ambitious new extension of overtime entitlements to salaried workers earning $23,660-$50,440? The “administration refuses to allow others to check its math. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the state agency that I lead, in August requested the specific data and methodology the Labor Department used to calculate its estimates. Our request was denied.” So the department went ahead with its own analysis. “The rule will supposedly cost $2 billion the first year. Our math shows $1.7 billion for Florida alone.” [Jesse Panuccio, WSJ, earlier here, here, here, here, and here]

Nail salons: an inspector calls

After the New York Times wildly muffed that big outrage story on worker pay at nail salons — and the first installment in Jim Epstein’s series makes a compelling case that it did — Andrew Cuomo’s inspectors descended in force to see what violations they could find. That’s when, to the great detriment of workers and salon owners alike, the real chaos began.

More: Part III of the series is on the supposed miscarriage/cancer epidemic conjured up by the Times. If you like the way Epstein first chipped and then cracked the paper’s well-glossed claws, watch what he does with the solvents.

Wage and hour roundup

  • Danny Meyer decision to move NYC restaurants to no-tip policy “was driven by state and federal laws and regulations” [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism]
  • U.S. Department of Labor will seek comment on whether employers should be liable for overtime when non-exempt employees use company-issued mobile devices after hours [Daniel Schwartz]
  • Yes, the Gig Economy is piecework, no, there isn’t anything particularly horrible about that [Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View]
  • House panel blasts DoL regs prescribing overtime for junior managers [Littler, House Small Business]
  • The madness of King Andrew: Cuomo’s $15 minimum wage would amount to 90% of the median wage in Buffalo metro area, 86 percent in Rochester [Alex Armlovich, New York Daily News]
  • “Asian Nail Salon Staff Demand Apology From The New York Times for Poverty-Porn Series That’s Costing Them Jobs” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason, earlier] And more: Jim Epstein re-reports the Times nail salon story in the first of a four-part series. Devastating, read it;
  • Class action lawyer sues 2 more “Uber for…” startups on wage/hour classification theory [ArsTechnica, earlier]

Wage and hour roundup

  • “No unpaid internship in the for-profit sector ever has or ever will satisfy these [USDOL] rules” [Bryan Caplan]
  • Obama wage/hour czar David Weil doubles as a key ideologist of the kill-outsourcing crowd [Weekly Standard, related earlier on NLRB move against franchise and subcontract economy]
  • “A $15-hour minimum wage could harm America’s poorest workers” [Harry Holzer, Brookings] Alderman Antonio French, a key Ferguson protest figure, opposes minimum wage hike in St. Louis [Washington Post “WonkBlog”]
  • “Andrew Cuomo’s leftward lurch: Calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage is his latest out-of-character move” [Bill Hammond, NY Daily News] Since minimum wage hike, mini-recession has hit employment in Los Angeles hotel sector [Ozimek]
  • Court ruling: Yelp reviewers volunteer their reviews and are not entitled to be paid for them [Courthouse News]
  • 400 Uber drivers: don’t let them take away our independent contractor status [Daniel Fisher, Forbes] Mandated benefits and the “Happy Meal Fallacy” [Tabarrok]
  • “Bill Would Make Maryland Employers Set Work Schedules Earlier” [WAMU on Del. David Moon’s “Fair Work Week Act”; related on national “Schedules That Work” Democratic legislation, Connor Wolf/Daily Caller]