As summer internship season approaches, employers should carefully institute internship programs which comply with the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
In the case of “for-profit” companies, unpaid internships must meet the strict criteria of the FLSA. Specifically, as stated in U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) FLSA Fact Sheet #71 unpaid interns must:
- Receive training similar to that provided in an educational environment
- Be for the benefit of the intern, and not the employer
- Not displace regular paid employees
- Be closely supervised by existing staff
- Not be used for the immediate advantage of the employer (and in some cases, may impede the employer’s operations)
- Not necessarily be entitled to a job after the end of the internship
- Understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for time spent in the internship
… Keep reading
Even the most sophisticated employer in the most intellectually demanding industry may misclassify its workers as “exempt” when they are, in fact “non-exempt.” The increasing number of misclassification litigation is a sure sign that no one is completely immune from inadvertently misclassifying workers.
What exactly are the workers “exempt” from anyway? The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that workers be paid a minimum wage for every hour they work and an overtime premium for any hours in excess of 40 hours worked in a week, but it permits employers from excluding certain types of employees from each of these requirements; hence, they are “exempt” employees. The most common areas of exemption are known as the “white collar” exemptions. These exempt employees are:
Of course, these “white collar” classifications may appear straightforward, but like the roads in the Tuscan hillside, they can become quite foggy and have twists and turns from time to time. Don’t fall for the typical myths about exempt classifications.
Myth No. 1: If the employee is paid a “salary” rather than “hourly,” the employee must be “exempt.”
Although any employee who is paid on an “hourly” basis … Keep reading
NOTE: Some changes have occurred since this entry was originally posted. Please see new post from April 18, 2012 for an update.
On April 30, 2012, a number of major changes to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) regulations will take effect and businesses, especially those that are not unionized, should take heed. While many employers view the NLRA as a “traditional” labor law that is not applicable to private, non-union entities, almost all employers engaged in interstate commerce are subject to the NLRA.
Two of these changes (effective April 30) are of particular note:
- Posting of Notices: As of April 30, 2012, all employers must post the Notice of Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act (English). For now, failure to comply with the posting requirement does not automatically result in an unfair labor practice, as the regulation was originally drafted, but it is likely that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)will draw an adverse inference from an employer’s failure to post. The posters must be 11 x 17 inches in size and posted in English and any other language which at least 20% of the workforce speaks, if they are not proficient in
… Keep reading
With the new year, Massachusetts employers must add “gender identity” to the list of classes entitled to protection from employment discrimination and retaliation. What was touted as the “transgender rights” law in Massachusetts is, in fact, a “gender identity” law.
The Massachusetts transgender rights law defines “gender identity” as:
[A] person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.
This law allows employees to establish a workplace gender identity by providing their employer with evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity, or “any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person’s core identity.”
Notwithstanding this new law, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has already found that transgender employees are protected under the Commonwealth’s existing sex and disability discrimination laws. Thus, we have long counseled Massachusetts employers to treat transgendered employees as a protected class, and we do not anticipate that this legislation will change that fundamental advice. … Keep reading
Most employment claims can be avoided by simply being aware of what the law requires. Here are three recurring issues which plaintiffs’ class action attorneys and government agencies are targeting across the country and which can be easily avoided by taking action now.
1. Misclassification of Workers as Independent Contractors
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and US Department of Labor (US DOL) have been increasingly cracking down on independent contractor misclassification. Last year, Massachusetts, along with several other states, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the IRS and DOL, formally agreeing to cooperate in investigating independent contractor misclassifications. If a violation occurs, the government agency investigating the matter is obligated to report it to the other state and federal agencies which may be affected by the misclassification, potentially opening up the company to an audit by the IRS or the US DOL.
Massachusetts has one of the toughest tests to be met in order to classify someone as an independent contractor, and the penalties for misclassifying vary with the legal requirement which was not met as a result of the misclassification. For example, if a worker was not paid accrued wages or vacation time upon termination, the … Keep reading