wheelchairOver the weekend, I finished planning for our webinar tomorrow on the new overtime rules.  In digging deeper into the materials produced by the Department of Labor on the final rule, I looked at the use of volunteers as a solution — particularly for non-profit organizations.

For the “for-profit” world, this is probably not a

Yesterday on Twitter, a Connecticut legislator posted this:

State Representative Matt Lesser, be careful what you ask for. But since you asked, here’s a

When the U.S. Supreme Court rules on an issue in a 9-0 fashion — with a decision penned by Justice Thomas, no less — you can fairly conclude that the issue is not all that difficult.

Indeed, the SCOTUSBlog summed up the employment law decision today pretty succinctly:

Workers who are required to stay after


Your former employee files suit against your company in federal court in Connecticut claiming that she is entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.   You go to a settlement conference before a magistrate judge. After a few hours of back and forth negotiation, you reach a settlement with the ex-employee.

Is judicial approval

So if last Tuesday’s post about the latest Connecticut Supreme Court decision on travel time was for employers, this post is for the ones who love the nuances of the law.

Dan Klau on his Appealingly Brief blog did a deep dive into the decision. And it wasn’t pretty.

Commuting at 1964 Worlds Fair

The issue Dan highlights is this: The Connecticut Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) interpretation of its own regulation on travel time was first rejected because that interpretation had not been time-tested and was not the product of formal rule-making procedures.

But it was also rejected because the Court said the agency’s interpretation was also not reasonable. Dan questions this:

The DOL based its interpretation of its regulation on a 1995 opinion letter of the United States Department of Labor concerning travel time under the federal Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947. The DOL expressly referenced that letter in a written guide it published, “A Guide to Wage and Workplace Standards.” (The link is to the 2014 revision, which appears to contain the same relevant text (see p. 38) at issue in Sarrazin.) The Court noted that Congress had rejected that position (on policy grounds) in 1996, “yet the department’s handbook inexplicably fails to acknowledge the questionable history of the 1995 opinion letter. . . .” This, according to the Court, is what made the DOL’s interpretation of its own regulation unreasonable.

I fail to see why the DOL’s statement that it interpreted its own regulation in accord with the 1995 opinion letter means that its interpretation is “unreasonable.” It seems to me that the question of reasonableness turns on the “fit” between the 1995 opinion letter and the text of the regulation, not on whether Congress, as a policy matter, disagreed with the 1995 opinion letter. Congress’s intentions are certainly relevant to federal law, but not to the reasonableness of the DOL’s interpretation of its own regulation. Employment lawyers, what say you?

There’s more, of course, to this story. It actually starts with a 1994 US Department of Labor Opinion letter which ruled that the time spent by an employee traveling from home to the first work assignment, or returning home from the last assignment, in an employer provided vehicle was similar to that of traveling between jobs during the day and therefore represented a principal activity, which must be compensated. No compensation would be required in cases where employees used their own personal vehicles.


Continue Reading CTDOL’s Interpretation of Travel Time Not “Reasonable”; What Happens Next?

A reminder: Employees are entitled to overtime for work over 40 hours a week, unless an exemption applies. For so-called white collar workers, there are three main exemptions: administrative, professional and executive.  Each of these categories looks at whether the employee had certain covered “duties” (known as the “duties” test) and a minimum guaranteed weekly salary (known as the “salary” test).

Under federal law (but not state law), there is also an exemption that allows employers to not pay overtime to “highly compensated” employees over $100,000 a year.   These rules have been in place for nearly 10 years, but the regulations are far from clear.

A recent case out of the Second Circuit (Anani v. CVS) examined these exemptions and regulations. You can download the case here.

The case comes down to a fairly arcane part of the federal regulations addressing whether a “reasonable relationship” exists between the guaranteed amount an employee is supposed to receive and the amount actually earned.  The Second Circuit concludes that this section does not apply when workers make over $100,000 under the FLSA.

It’s a fairly straightforward conclusion because to apply that language to highly compensated workers would render the rest of the regulation pretty meaningless. Thus, a win for the employer.


Continue Reading Second Circuit Leaves Some FLSA Issues Up For Grabs