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wage and hour suits

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.

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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.

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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]

Labor and employment roundup

by Walter Olson on September 13, 2013

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“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]

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  • “Is the main effect of the minimum wage on job growth?” [Tyler Cowen] Minimum wage is transitional wage; most workers who receive it will earn higher rate in the next year if they stay employed [same] “Obama’s Bogus Case for a ‘Decent Wage’”[Ira Stoll]
  • “Equipment manufacturer sues EEOC over email survey trolling for potential class members” [Jessica Karmasek, LNL]
  • Don’t mess with SEIU? “Service Employees Suit Assesses Harsh Penalties against Breakaway Reformers” [Steve Early, Labor Notes]
  • NLRB is fully staffed now, so watch out employers [Rod Kackley, Crain's Detroit Business]
  • Major League Baseball latest to face suit over unpaid volunteer workers [ABA Journal]
  • Dent in lawyers’ business plan? Judge doesn’t think Michigan meatpacking workers’ $1,000 don/doff claim is adequate basis for $140,000 legal fee award [Free Press]
  • Workplace vagrants: many employees quit jobs regularly as garnishment catches up to them [Coyote]
  • “What’s Wrong with Domestic Workers’ ‘Bill(s) of Rights’” [Wendy McElroy, The Freeman; earlier here, etc.]
  • More on the implications of supervisory-harassment case Vance v. Ball State [Kay Steiger, The Atlantic, and thanks for mention; earlier here and here]
  • N.J. doesn’t allow workers under 18 near construction sites: “Labor law limits volunteer help for Sandy relief” [Asbury Park Press]
  • Charlotte Garden (Seattle U.) on non-labor litigation by unions [Workplace Prof; a 1999 Ohio case]
  • So classically L.A. Times: in wildly slanted article, reporter Alana Semuels quotes seven lawyers/lawprofs attacking workplace arbitration contracts, none in defense;
  • One unintended consequence of limiting unpaid internships: boosting value of pre-existing social connections [David Henderson]
  • “High Court to review sweetheart deals between unions, management” [Sean Higgins, DC Examiner on Supreme Court case of UNITE HERE v. Mulhall]
  • EEOC guidance lost big in last week’s SCOTUS employment decisions [Daniel Fisher, Michael Greve]
  • Classification of obesity as a “disease” has huge employment law implications [Jon Hyman]
  • EEOC goes after BMW, Dollar General over criminal background checks on job candidates [ABA Journal, Althouse, Michael Carvin and Eric Dreiband ("The Government Checks Criminal Records. Why Can't Private Employers?"), Employer's Lawyer, earlier] “So the gov’t convicts minorities at a disproportionate rate. Then the gov’t sues companies that checks those records, smart.” [Surya Gunasekara] Why not ban Google too? (Don’t give them ideas, please) [ Mike Riggs]
  • Wage and hour suits soar, record number filed so far in 2013 [Corp Counsel, Overtime Lawyer, I-Sight] Related: what’s wrong with the epithet “wage theft” [Hyman]
  • Employer’s claim: I can’t get due process from Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities [Daniel Schwartz]
  • The First Amendment protects our speech rights against the government, not against those we deal with in the workplace who may disapprove [Schwartz and more on Connecticut employment proposal] NLRB “attempting to sanction a California newspaper despite a federal appeals court’s decision that such a ruling threatened the publisher’s First Amendment rights.” [Washington Free Beacon]
  • “Bergen, Passaic County towns saddled with costs as lawsuits filed by police add up” [Bergen Record via NJLRA]

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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]

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“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.]

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AP:

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]

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  • NLRB comes to grief again in D.C. Circuit, this time on posting rule [Fox, Adler]
  • Departing executive director of D.C. labor board: higher-ups pressed for discrimination against conservatives, whites [Hans von Spakovsky, Examiner]
  • “Dollar General: Discovery request would give client list to plaintiffs lawyers” [West Virginia Record]
  • Dems do themselves little credit by blocking legalization of flextime [Ramesh Ponnuru, Washington Times]
  • “Government Crowded Out: How Employee Compensation Costs Are Reshaping State and Local Government” [Daniel DiSalvo, Manhattan Institute]
  • Thanks to California Supreme Court, SEIU can tell dissenters we know where you live [DC Examiner, Legal NewsLine] Recalling a furor over member privacy and databases at another large union, UNITE HERE [Labor Union Report, "pink sheeting"]
  • “The fact that it took forced austerity measures for Greece to fire even *corrupt* public servants speaks volumes.” [Christian Science Monitor via @radleybalko]

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  • For most private-sector employers it’s illegal to let workers take comp time off in lieu of overtime; H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, would fix that [Hyman]
  • Christine Quinn take note: laws requiring paid sick leave do not constitute social progress [Richard Epstein]
  • Occupational hazards of bagpipe playing (other than being chased out of your neighborhood) [Donald McNeil Jr., New York Times]
  • “Phoenix ‘Not Looking for Strong Swimmers’ for Lifeguard Jobs” [David Bernstein; earlier on discrimination against deaf lifeguards]
  • Decline of full-time work in retail sector in response to ObamaCare: year’s biggest employment story? [Warren Meyer, FoxNews (largest movie theater chain cuts hours for thousands of employees)]
  • City of Philadelphia not doing well on workers’ comp program, to say the least [Workers' Compensation Institute]
  • “New labor rule will violate attorney-client privilege” [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, D.C. Examiner]
  • “Calling a Co-Worker ‘Stupid’ Not Enough to Prove ‘Disability’, Court Says” [Daniel Schwartz]

Labor and employment roundup

by Walter Olson on February 12, 2013

  • “Lying to Doctors for Fitness for Duty Exam Can Still Get You Fired …But Only If You’re a Police Officer” [Connecticut cop smashed into two cars during epileptic seizure; Daniel Schwartz]
  • “Emotional labor”: is having to be cheerful to customers a form of capitalist slavery? [Tim Noah v. Andrew Sullivan]
  • CalPERS: “The pension fund that ate California” [Steve Malanga, City Journal]
  • Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), other “worker centers” on the rise: “Will ‘alt-labor’ replace unions?” [Salon; critical anti-ROC site via Matt Patterson/CEI]
  • Without benefit of an act of Congress, EEOC is interpreting the law to prohibit transgender bias [Workplace Prof]
  • “The Nation: Government-Mandated Lunch Breaks are Somehow Libertarians’ Fault” [Shackford, Reason]
  • Historian challenges received account of Haymarket Affair [Ron Radosh]
  • Seventh Circuit upholds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s public sector labor law reform [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
  • In theory, California workers fired for cause aren’t entitled to unemployment compensation. In practice… [Coyote]
  • Comstockery meets occupational licensure: how New York’s Cabaret Law tripped up Billie Holiday [Bryan Caplan]
  • New Jersey lawmakers move to cut nonunion workers out of Hurricane Sandy recovery jobs [Jersey Journal]
  • Cheer up, plaintiff’s bar, you’re doing very well these days out of FLSA wage-and-hour actions [Max Kennerly]
  • Back to “spiking”: “CalPERS planning to gut a key cost-control provision of new pension law” [Daniel Borenstein, Contra Costa Times] When government negotiates with public sector unions over pay, the process should be transparent to taxpayers and the public [Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute]
  • Sacre bleu! Labor law reform reaches France [NYT]

“Judges rejected a bid from unpaid bloggers at the Huffington Post to revive a lawsuit against AOL that contends the company should pay them a third of the $315 million it spent last year to buy the news site.” [Alexander Kaufman, The Wrap] “The problem with plaintiffs’ argument is that it has no basis,” observed the Second Circuit. [Politico, earlier here, here, etc.]

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  • Maryland: “Montgomery County Police ‘Effects’ Bargaining Bludgeons Public Safety” [Trey Kovacs, CEI, earlier] Time to revisit “effects” bargaining for other employee groups too [Gazette]
  • “A New Whistleblower Retaliation Statute Grows Up: Dodd-Frank is the new Sarbanes-Oxley” [Daniel Schwartz]
  • Proposal for disclosure of “persuaders” would threaten many employers [Michael Lotito/The Hill, earlier]
  • Judge greenlights union suit challenging new Indiana right to work law [RedState]
  • “Discovery of Immigration-Status Denied in FLSA Case” [Workplace Prof]
  • “Same Song, Umpteenth Verse – No Discrimination, Retaliation Worth $2 Million” [Fox/Employer's Lawyer; Ithaca, N.Y.]
  • NLRB on collision course with Indian tribal sovereignty [Fred Wszolek, Indian Country Today]

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Gov. Brown starts vetoing

by Walter Olson on October 8, 2012

The California legislature this term chose to pass a raft of exceptionally bad legislation burdening business and employers, and Gov. Jerry Brown, perhaps mindful of the state’s ongoing poor economic performance, last week vetoed many of them [Ira Stoll, NY Sun; Steven Greenhut, City Journal] Among the vetoes: bills widening the rights of housekeepers’, babysitters’ and other domestic workers to sue their employers [earlier here, here]; greatly widening the survivors’ benefits paid for public safety workers [earlier, update]; unionizing grad student research assistants [Daily Californian] and an ostensible farmworker safety measure [Ruth Evans, Fresno Bee]

P.S. “Starts” isn’t really accurate, since, as David Boaz has pointed out, Gov. Brown cast some good vetoes last year.

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