It makes no seeming sense unless you’re aware of the grim legalities for employers whose “nonexempt” employees work off the clock [Richard Bales/Workplace Prof, BoingBoing, ABC "Good Morning America"]
“A youth group adviser from California has brought a class-action suit against her employer, the Orthodox Union. …Her complaint states that in addition to her ‘nine-to-five’ duties of teaching classes, meeting with students and co-workers, cooking for holiday meals and running programs, she also had students at her house on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays. She had to make herself constantly available to students and their parents by phone and e-mail, and she worked around the clock while chaperoning Shabbatons and trips.” Overtime was not paid for these duties as legally required, her lawyer says. [JTA via Helfand/Prawfs; related on scope of "ministerial exception" in employment law]
Entrepreneurial lawyers have filed numerous suits against New York City restaurants over alleged violations of tip-splitting and overtime rules, a trend helped along by wage rulings from the state Labor Department. Now one of the town’s best-known restaurateurs says he’s had enough, per the New York Post:
“Money-hungry lawyers, through frivolous lawsuits, are shaking down the very foundation of Manhattan’s restaurant industry,” fumed Joe Bastianich, co-owner of Eataly, Del Posto and Babbo.
Bastianich said the litigation — he has been sued twice — has left such a bitter taste that he’s done with setting up new ventures in New York.
“We opened Eataly and put 700 jobs in the New York economy. Since then we haven’t opened another restaurant in New York, nor will we,” Bastianich told The Post. “We opened three other restaurants, in California and Connecticut, worth 1,000 jobs that could have been here in New York. Someone in Albany needs to understand the agenda, what this is really costing the greatest restaurant city in the world.”
Earlier here, etc.
The bill would also require employers of babysitters, i.e. parents, to prepare extensive paperwork and keep it on file for at least three years after a wage payment. Some critics say the obligation to provide periodic breaks would require families to hire a second sitter to relieve the first. Homeowners would be required to permit all-day domestic workers to prepare their own food in the family kitchen and would be forbidden to object to the workers’ choice of food. AB 889, sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-S.F.) and grandly labeled the “Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights,” has passed the lower house in Sacramento and will now be considered by the Senate. [NBC Los Angeles, Matt Welch, Sen. Doug LaMalfa, earlier] Last year New York made itself the first state to extend general workplace regulation to domestic employment.
In a new Reason symposium on how to revitalize the American job market, I explain my answer to that question.
More: This set off a round of discussion on employment blogs including Jon Hyman (nominating FLSA for vaporization), Suzanne Boy (concur), Daniel Schwartz (leave laws), Suzanne Lucas (citing “the fabulous Overlawyered.com”), the ABA Journal, Tim Eavenson, Jon Hyman again, HR Daily Report, and Russell Cawyer. Also relevant on age discrimination laws: a June symposium in the NYT’s “Room for Debate” feature; ComputerWorld on age bias and IT.
The CEO of the Carl’s restaurant chain “said he’s had to fire managers who insisted on working more hours than state allows.” [David Houston and Jot Condie, San Jose Mercury-News]
Keen to sic the feds on your boss? There’s an app for that, courtesy of the Department of Labor. [Michael Fox]
“Bookworm,” the Bay Area-based blogger, tells the story of what happened in a case on which she worked, which arose after an employer encountered the interaction of two California laws, one requiring that final wages be paid within three days, another tilting attorneys’ fee awards toward employees in disputes with employers. A highlight: when the California Supreme Court attempted to correct some of the most extreme unfairness arising from the fee rules, it got overridden by the state legislature. [Bookworm Room]
It’s not getting one-ten-thousandth the coverage of Mr. Tasini’s suit against the Huffington Post, perhaps because it’s not based on quite such an exotic set of legal theories. FindLaw pays staffers to write legal blogs and the suit charges that they were encouraged/allowed to work unpaid overtime. [ABA Journal] Eric B. Meyer has more (“Working through lunch may create overtime issues for employers”).
Amid the general hail of dead cats that commentators have aimed at the class action suit claiming to speak for unpaid Huffington Post bloggers, Jack Shafer’s contribution stands out (action “proves that we’re becoming a nation of Winklevosses who file legal motion after legal motion every time a pot of money is spotted….the proper time to negotiate payment for an article is before publication”).
The site generally promised to pay nothing to its bloggers, and has lived up to that promise. [Romenesko/Washington Post, Radley Balko, Atlantic Wire, Coyote (FLSA is a more unreasonable law than you may assume), Max Kennerly ("unjust enrichment" theories not going anywhere), Volokh (next: suits on behalf of unpaid commenters), Lawrence Cunningham ("close to zero" chance of suit prevailing); & followup (with Jack Shafer's views)]