Why would an employer adopt a rule forbidding employees from using company email after hours or on weekends? Simple enough: lawyers have been busily organizing class actions alleging that employees are owed millions for overtime spent on such tasks. And it doesn’t matter whether the employee wants to do his or her job that way or is responding to an emergency customer request: the legal entitlement to sue isn’t ordinarily waivable by consent. Hence “email curfews.” [Brianne Pfannenstiel, Kansas City Business Journal via Jon Hyman]
“Even though they received back-pay, they are now suing the government….Their attorney said that late payment violates the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act and they’re now owed damages – adding up to hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars per worker.” [Mike Conneen, WJLA]
Caleb Brown interviews me for a Cato podcast on the Administration’s new home-companion overtime rules, which could drive many elderly and disabled persons into nursing homes. Earlier here and here.
Had you heard that disabled-rights activists have staged demonstrations in Washington, D.C. to protest a new Obama administration initiative? Not only that, but the disabled-rights activists are right.
At issue is an awful scheme by the Obama Labor Department, newly headed by Secretary Thomas Perez, to abolish most of the “companionship exemption” to federal wage and hour laws, which has up to now reasonably recognized that serving as a live-in or semi-live-in paid attendant to a sick, elderly or disabled person is not really the same sort of thing as working twelve-hour days on a factory assembly line. I’ve got a new post at Cato at Liberty looking at some of the consequences we can expect from making it far more expensive to provide a kind of round-the-clock care that often keeps people out of nursing homes. More: Bloomberg.
Some background on the controversy, beyond the links in the Cato post: National Council on Disability (a federal disability-advocacy agency that was not entirely prepared to toe the line in favor of the new regs); Stephen Miller, Society for Human Resource Management; Kaiser Health News; Disability Law (“disability rights groups… fear that substantially raising the cost of personal assistance services without increasing Medicaid reimbursements will force people with disabilities into nursing homes”); PHI and Direct Care Alliance (promoting regs); National Association for Home Care and Hospice and more (commercial group opposed); ADAPT (disability rights group opposed).
More reactions: Bill McMorris/Free Beacon, Jon Hyman, Trey Kovacs/Workplace Choice.
Insist that class counsel’s attorneys’ fees be handled separately from the negotiation of relief to the class — and then don’t roll over for those fees the way defendants usually do. “They [Starbucks' lawyers] contend that the $4.2 million request is ‘breathtakingly inflated,’ considering that class counsel managed to win certification of only one of 13 alleged subclasses [in a West Coast wage-hour class action].” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]
“In a federal lawsuit filed Aug. 29, Christopher Hranek contends Morgan & Morgan – one of the most active Florida law firms in filing wage and hour cases – misclassified him as a salaried employee when he was instead working as an hourly employee.” Morgan & Morgan, whose advertising slogan is “For the People,” said it does not owe Hranek overtime and expects to show documentation that it was in compliance with labor law. [Jane Meinhardt, Tampa Bay Business Journal]
An innovative clothing consignment business travels from location to location using consigning parents as volunteers — but now the Department of Labor says the parents need to be treated as employees. [Rhea Lana Riner, USA Today]
“Paying to Learn Nothing = Legal; Paying Nothing to Learn = Illegal” [Andrew Coulson, Cato, contrasting internship ruling with the general lack of a legal or political remedy against educational institutions should you "go into serious debt [but] learn nothing of value”; more on the absence of “educational malpractice” relief; earlier here, etc.]
Unpaid internships have long been a path of opportunity for students and recent grads looking to get a foot in the door in the entertainment, publishing and other prominent industries, even if it takes a generous subsidy from Mom and Dad.
But those days of working for free could be numbered after a federal judge in New York ruled this week that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated minimum wage and overtime laws by not paying interns who worked on production of the 2010 movie “Black Swan.”
More: Dylan Matthews, Washington Post, and earlier here, here, etc.
P.S. “There will still be one place to still get unpaid internships — Congress, since they exempt themselves from these laws.” [Coyote]