Workplace Wise - Iowa Employment Law Attorneys

Thursday, August 31, 2017

DOL Rule Raising Salary Threshold for Exempt Employees STRUCK DOWN

By Amanda Jansen

Remember that Department of Labor rule that was supposed to go into effect December 1, 2016 that would have raised the minimum salary for exempt employees from $455 per week to $913 per week? Either way, forget about it—it has now been struck down by a federal judge in Texas.

If you’re asking yourself, “Didn’t that already happen?,” the answer is “sort of.” Back in November of 2016, the court had entered a temporary injunction that stopped the rule from going to effect on December 1. The Obama administration’s Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, immediately appealed that ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Then President Trump took office, Alexander Acosta replaced Tom Perez as Secretary of Labor, and the DOL suddenly had a change of heart about the litigation and the fate of the rule. Meanwhile, Judge Amos Mazzant in the Eastern District of Texas, continued considering the case, having refused to stay the action pending the appeal.

Fast forward to August 31, 2017: ruling on a motion for summary judgment filed by 55 states and chambers of commerce (as well as former Governor Terry E. Branstad), Judge Mazzant concluded “the Department’s Final Rule described in 81 Fed. Reg. 32,391 is invalid.” The reasoning for the court’s decision is based on the Chevron doctrine from administrative law. Basically, the court found the Department of Labor overstepped its rulemaking authority by making a rule inconsistent with Congress’s intent under the FLSA to exempt from overtime-pay requirements bona fide executive, administrative and professional employees. The $913/week minimum salary threshold ($47,476) was so high that it would have made many employees who performed exempt duties (e.g., managers) non-exempt because they did not meet the minimum salary.

In a nutshell: 

The Final Rule more than doubles the previous minimum salary level. By raising the salary level in this manner, the Department effectively eliminates a consideration of whether an employee performs bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacityduties.Congress was clear that the [exemption] determination should involve at least a consideration of an employee’s duties.The Department has exceeded its authority and gone too far with the Final Rule.
So, what now? While, theoretically, the DOL could appeal this ruling to the Fifth Circuit, it appears more likely that they will go back to the drawing board and revise the rule. On July 26, 2017 the Department of Labor published a Request for Information (RFI) asking for the public’s input on how executive, administrative, and professional employees should best be identified as exempt from overtime. You can view the RFI here and submit comments here. Comments will be accepted until September 25, 2017. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Do I Need to Update Workplace Postings?

By Ann Kendell

YES! Iowa has updated its Job Safety and Health posting this year. There are some subtle changes, but the key difference is identifying how to report a workplace fatality or “hospitalization, amputation or the loss of an eye.”  This posting in available here.
YES! In July of 2016, the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) revised the FLSA posting to include a section on break time for nursing mothers and note that some workers may be incorrectly classified as independent contractors “when they are actually employees under the FLSA.”  This posting is available here.
YES! The USDOL also updated the “Employee Rights Employee Polygraph Protection Act” posting in July 2016.  This posting is available here.

State Minimum Wage Changes
MAYBE… The following states have had changes to their minimum wage requirements this calendar year: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington. These changes may require updated workplace postings. (Not all states require postings). Similar to Iowa, some states may also have cities and counties with different minimum wage requirements – so it is important to confirm those requirements!

Iowa Minimum Wage
NO, BUT BE AWARE… In Iowa, the minimum wage of $7.25 is still the same; however there have been cities and counties enacting a different minimum wage for use within their jurisdictions.  These include: Johnson County ($10.10 as of 1-1-17), Linn County ($8.25 as of 1-1-17), Polk County ($8.75 as of 4/1/17 and scheduled increases on 1-1-18 and 1-1-19), and Wapello County ($8.20 as of 1-1-17). Therefore, the required posting has not changed in Iowa, but you need to be aware of these wage requirements for specific areas in Iowa.

IWD’s “Required Employer Posters” lists for state and federal posters available here.
USDOL’s “Compliance Assistance Materials – Workplace Posters” (includes postings in other languages) available here.
USDOL’s “FirstStep Poster Advisor” available here.