I’ve got a new post at Cato about the latest federal court smackdown of overreaching enforcement by the Obama administration, this time in a Department of Labor prosecution regarding a Texas company’s wage-and-hour classification. I mention some greatest hits of the past couple of years reversing DoL, the EEOC, the EPA and other agencies, and suggest that a useful step might be for regulated businesses to contest unreasonable cases more often rather than, as is so often the norm now, paying to get them over with.
So says Coyote, and I agree with him (earlier here).
…companies will quickly restructure their work processes to make sure no one works overtime. And since their new hires are working just a straight 40 hours (with mandatory unpaid lunch break time in CA), they will likely pay less. If I am paying $40,000 a year for someone who will work extra hours for me, I am not going to pay that amount to someone just punching a time clock. And the whole psychological relationship is changed – a salaried person is someone on the management team. A person punching a timeclock may not be treated the same way. …
…for those who think schools assign too much homework, this could well be the end of homework. The most dangerous possible thing with hourly workers is to give them the ability to assign themselves unlimited overtime. Teachers could do this at home with grading papers. If I were a school, I would ban teachers from doing any grading or schoolwork prep at home — after all, it’s hourly and probably overtime and they could work unlimited hours at home and how would you get it under control? The only way to manage it would be to ban it entirely.
He marches through some of the implications, all bad, for employee travel (why allow it except for the direst company needs if every hour on the road is going to be paid at time and a half?), ObamaCare incentives, and the erosion of a minimum pay guarantee for those whose salary now provides one. (On the homework issue, incidentally, teachers are exempt under current FLSA rules; grading papers at home would only be dangerous assuming a change in those rules.)
Here comes a more regimented, polarized, lawsuit-ridden workplace with less upward mobility — at least if the President gets his way. I deplore some of the likely effects, unintended or otherwise, in a new Cato post: “Increasingly, Obama’s binge of executive orders and unilateral decrees to bypass Congress is coming to resemble a toddler’s destructive tantrum.” More: Daniel Schwartz, Daniel Fisher. Our wage and hour law category has more than 80 posts.
More from Scott Shackford, Reason, from Brett Logiurato at Business Insider on organized business opposition, and from the WSJ. And from George Leef, John Locke Institute:
The Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal statute that imposes the minimum wage along with other intrusions into what ought to be matters of contract between the parties.There is no real constitutional authority for the federal government to dictate the terms of labor contracts. During the New Deal, Congress relied upon the notion that if anything might have any possible effect on interstate commerce, then it’s fair game for federal control. That idea stretches the concept of interstate commerce far beyond its intended meaning.
Yet more: Welcome Andrew Sullivan, Washington Times readers. And see followup post (why this could do much more damage to economy than minimum wage hike)
Safer to have the failed business go through total liquidation, it seems:
An employer that acquired the assets of a defunct bar and restaurant and continued to operate a restaurant on the same premises was liable for unpaid wages owed to the defunct restaurant’s former employees, the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled. Blachana LLC v. Bureau of Labor and Industries, No. S060789 (Ore. Jan. 16, 2014).
Reversing the Oregon Court of Appeals, the Court found that the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) did not err in deciding the employer was a successor for state wage liability purposes because it conducted “essentially the same business as conducted by the predecessor,” even though it did not employ any of the predecessor’s employees. [emphasis added]
“Obamacare Call Center Faces Unpaid Wages & Overtime Class Action Lawsuit” [BigClassAction.com]
“So… stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Man sues staffing agency and Biglaw firm for overtime — because document review isn’t really legal work. Man then applies to the exact same staffing agency for more document review work — touting all his legal experience reviewing documents.” [Alex Rich, Above the Law]
Only 1,999 unclarities left to go. I explain yesterday’s decision in Sandifer v. U.S. Steel Corp., the “don/doff” case, at Cato at Liberty (& welcome SCOTUSBlog readers).
“French officials have fined a pub in Brittany €9,000 for “undeclared labour” after a customer returned some empty glasses to the bar. For customers at the Mamm-Kounifl concert-café in Locmiquélic, carrying drinks trays and used glasses back to the bar was a polite tradition.” [Independent]
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]