Nevada Wage & Hour Lawsuits

We’ve been warning employers for several months that wage & hour compliance issues will result in numerous lawsuits this year – especially in Nevada.

It’s starting to happen.

Wells Fargo & AutoZone have been sued (class-action status is currently pending) for mis-classifying employees.

With Wells Fargo, business banking specialists were allegedly mis-classified as exempt (from overtime, meal and rest breaks) when they were required to be ‘on-call’ on certain evenings.

In AutoZone’s case, Assistant Managers were not compensated for working overtime (this is a case very reminiscent of the Long’s Drugstore case in 2004).

The federal government is taking Wage & Hour violations seriously: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis recently announced plans to add 250 field investigators, increasing staff by 33%. The DOL believes 7 out of 10 businesses are not in compliance with Wage & Hour laws.

Garry Mathiason of Littler recently wrote:

No employment-law trend is more certain, universal or important than the total wage-and-hour compliance initiative and stopping the epidemic of wage-and-hour class-action (lawsuits)…

More ominous and prescient are these words from Mathiason (and, I believe, completely true):

With thousands of plaintiffs’ attorneys examining every aspect of the payroll process, employers must expect maximum scrutiny…”Every employee who is terminated or demoted, or who experiences an unpleasant workplace event, is encouraged by Internet and television advertising to seek the advice of counsel. In almost every intake interview, the attorney’s questioning turns to wage-and-hour issues in an attempt to find additional claims. Inspired by the prospect of turning a small individual claim into a multimillion-dollar class-action, the organization’s wage-and-hour compliance goes under the microscope.”

Thanks to Las Vegas Sun.

Businesses Taking Action Against E-mails, Linkedin, Facebook

In its 6th annual survey, the security firm Proofpoint reveals some new information regarding social media and e-mails by employees – and it’s almost always resulting in bad news for the employees:

  • 43 percent of US companies surveyed have investigated an email-based leak of confidential or proprietary information in the past 12 months. Nearly a third of them, 31 percent, terminated an employee for violating email policies in the same period (up from 26percent in 2008).
  • US companies are also experiencing more exposure incidents involving sites like Facebook and LinkedIn as compared to 2008 (17 percent versus 12 percent). US companies are taking a much more forceful approach with offending employees — eight percent reported terminating an employee for such a violation as compared to only four percent in 2008.
  • Even short message services like SMS texts and Twitter pose a risk. 13 percent of US companies investigated an exposure event involving mobile or Web-based short message services in the past 12 months.

Read the entire survey here.

Krispy Kreme Fined for hiring illegal workers

If Krispy Kreme didn’t have enough problems already – here comes news they’ve been fined by the EEOC for hiring illegal (undocumented) workers in their Cincinnati factory. The fine amounts to $40,000.

What is remarkable about this fine is how easily it could have been prevented. The paperwork is easy – you just download an I-9 form off the internet. If there is any doubt about the documentation a candidate provides, just login to e-verify that’s provided by the Department of Homeland Security. That would have been much cheaper than $40,000 and the embarassment caused by the resulting publicity.

And in case you think it might not happen to you – ICE has announced audits of 652 other businesses in the coming months (and we’re sure there are more to follow!). The Obama administration has changed the focus from illegal employees to the employers that employ them.

American Apparel and a Big Immigration Problem

American Apparel has been accused by ICE of employing 1,800 people in Los Angeles who are not authorized to work in the United States.

It begs the question – is your I-9 house in order?

One of the biggest mistakes we see when conducting HR Audits is when businesses screw up their I-9 process.

We’ve seen I-9’s unsigned, misfiled, lost – and – in many cases – business owners who never used I-9’s in the first place!

Get an audit completed today – you may be next…

Why Health Care Reform Is Necessary

It’s a deliberately provocative title. And this is not an article about which reform is best for our country.

But…

The Department of Labor just came out with their statistics regarding benefits paid by employers.

The cost of medical benefits to private employers has doubled in the past 10 years.

In March 1999, employers paid an average of $1.03 per employee per hour for medical benefits (about 5.4% of total compensation)

In March 2009, employers paid an average of $2.00 per employee per hour for medical (about 7.3% of total comp).

And based on my work with small and medium-sized businesses, the quality of those benefits has declined dramatically in the past 10 years (along with huge increases in deductibles, co-pays, etc.).

Twice the cost with half the benefits. All underwritten by private businesses.

Something must be done.

Nevada Expands Parental Leave Requirements

Effective August 15, Nevada has expanded its parental leave entitlements for employees who wish to attend or participate in school activities of their children.

AB 243 allows parents, guardians and custodians of children in private or public schools up to 4 hours of unpaid leave per school year for each child.

The law requires employers who have 50 or more employees to grant that unpaid leave.

More detailed information from Rick Roskelley of Littler Mendelson.

California Labor Complaints – 2008

The California Department of Fair Employment & Housing released its statistics for 2008 last month, and there are some ominous signs that all employers should know:

  1. Complaints to the DFEH increased by more than 15% in 2008 (3,000 more complaints);
  2. Disability claims were most frequently filed, followed by retaliation, sexual harassment and age discrimination;
  3. In fact, disability claims comprised more than 36% of all claims;
  4. Prosecutions of employers increased by 28 percent.

California also has a disproportionate ratio of total employee complaints – one out of every 5 complaints in the country is from California.

Time to get your house in order!

And a good analysis of these statistics is found from Christopher Olmstead of Barker Olmsted & Barnier.