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

Oh, Mystic Pizza!

In Connecticut, we all know that Mystic Pizza isn’t the best pizza in the state.  (I’m not even going to get into the argument about Pepe’s, Sally’s, or Modern in New Haven.)  One of my favorites is actually Harry’s Bishops Corner.

But Mystic Pizza still has a place in many

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing more tweets from human resources types and mainstream reporters using the phrase “wage theft”.  Two recent examples? William Tincup (who runs the popular online DriveThruHR show that I appeared on a while ago) recently tweeted:

And The New York Times labor reporter, Steven Greenhouse yesterday tweeted:

Yes, even The New York Times Editorial Board is beginning to use the term with surprising carelessness suggesting “law enforcement officials” (a term typically reserved for police officers, not Department of Labor officials) routinely use it.

It’s time for employers to beware this phrase and fight its usage because, in my view, it’s really an attempt to turn something often unintentional, into something nefarious and intentional.

Or as Mandy Patinkin’s character in The Princess Bride said: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

What DO I mean? Well, think of the word, “theft” and most of us think of the intentional taking of something that belongs to someone else. Like your jewelry, or your iPhone. Even your company’s trade secrets.

Continue Reading “Wage Theft”: The Trendy Phrase That May Not Mean What You Think It Means

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

As we wrap up summer and start returning from vacations, there are several important Second Circuit FLSA decisions decided over the last few weeks that employers need to be aware of.  I’ll cover them in posts over the next few days.

Earlier this summer, the Second Circuit (which is the appeals court for the federal

In helping employers on wage and hour issues, I’m struck sometimes by the occasional failure to maintain proper records on their employees.

For employers, payroll companies now offer to help an employer with such records and can often provide some of the information once the employer shares it with them.

The Connecticut Department of Labor lists eight types of wage & hour records that all employers, regardless of size must keep. They are:

  • The employee’s name and address.
  • The employee’s occupation.
  • The total daily and total weekly hours worked, showing the beginning and ending time of each work period, computed to the nearest unit of 15 minutes.
  • The total hourly, daily or weekly basic wage.
  • The overtime wage as a separate item from the basic wage.
  • Additions to, or deductions from, wages each pay period.
  • Total wages paid each pay period.
  • Working papers/statements of age for each employee under the age of 18.

The employer must maintain these records on their premises, though I haven’t heard of the Department coming down on an employer when such records are maintained electronically in the “cloud” — which is technically off-site.

But employers should consider going beyond the minimum.  If the Department of Labor does decide to do an investigation, it is likely that they will seek the following eight types of documents, at a minimum:
Continue Reading Sixteen Types of Wage & Hour Records Employers Need to Keep

UPDATED 6/25/10

This afternoon, Bridgeport Connecticut either had a pretty bad microburst, or a tornado.  The National Weather Service has yet to make that determination, though having been right in the middle of it, it sure SEEMED like a tornado, with "whiteout" conditions. 

(UPDATE: The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touched down in Main Street by our office.)

And some businesses, including my law firm’s Bridgeport office (where I was working this afternoon) were in the thick of things. (We’re fine, though some cars in our building’s parking lot weren’t as fortunate.)  And it appears no one was killed in the event overall, thankfully.

The storm was pretty dramatic and I’ve attached a few of my mobile phone photos taken at the time.  

Early reports suggest that although some buildings were damaged and trees knocked down, many businesses were spared the worst of it.  But it’s only a matter of time before another storm (or hurricane) hits Connecticut again.  (And with forecasters calling for perhaps TWENTY named storms to develop this year, the odds on at least one making its way to Connecticut keep improving.) 

In times of disaster, what’s an employer to do if it has been damaged by a storm?

It’s actually a topic that I’ve tackled before in some posts like this one.  Here are some of the issues:

  • Suppose, for example that a business closes for a few days because of storm damage. Does the employer have to pay the employees?  The legal answer may depend on whether the employee is an exempt or non-exempt worker.  But if the employer may decide to pay all employees regardless as a "good will gesture" as some employers have done after fires, hurricanes and the other types of disasters.  
  • What can employers do to prepare for the hurricane season or other storms in the future? Easy. Set up a storm policy. Many employers will have in place for winter storms, but make sure that it is applicable for all types of storms and sets forth what is and is not expected.  Also consider getting cell phone numbers for employees; in case of a storm, you may be able to send them a text message or call with information, particularly if there are power outages.
  • Also, do your employee know what to do if an emergency strikes your workplace while they are there? Where are they supposed to go? While employers may prepare for some fire drills, expanding those drills to include unforeseen disasters will help.

Most employers prepare for storms by worrying about insurance and the physical aspects of an office. But don’t forget dealing with personnel as well. Have rules in place and know the legal limits as well. 

If a disaster does strike, you’ll be one step ahead of everyone else. And have one less thing to worry about to get your business back up and running again quickly.  

Continue below to see some pictures from today’s storm taken from our offices.  

Continue Reading When a Storm Hits, What’s an Employer to Do In Connecticut?