Wage and Hour Law and Practice

The economic repercussions of COVID-19 have been immediate and in many cases, debilitating, to American business across all industries, from food & beverage to manufacturing to healthcare.  Challenges faced include government-mandated closures of certain “non-essential” businesses and reduced demand of products and/or services.  As business revenue plummets, many companies are faced with the need to cut significant human capital costs in order to keep their business afloat.  Below are some options for companies to consider as they work to address reduced staffing needs.

Furlough

While the term furlough is used to describe various arrangements, typically a furlough is an unpaid leave of absence.  A furlough is often ideal for employers who anticipate a temporary need for reduced staffing.  Employees on furlough are still technically employed by the employer and, as a result, may be able to remain on the employer’s group health plan(s) if permitted by the terms of the plan(s).  Employers may require employees to pay the applicable employee portion of the premium during the furlough.  If the employer’s group health plan(s) is not available to employees on furlough, COBRA coverage would commence.  Also, many states allow for unemployment compensation to employees on an unpaid furlough.


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Please join the Bass, Berry & Sims labor & employment attorneys at a webinar briefing covering key information for employers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Employers’ obligations will become effective no later than April 2, 2020. Get the information you need to know regarding the following aspects of the Act:

  • Emergency Paid Sick

On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. The final version of the law contains significant revisions to the bill that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

Employers’ obligations will become effective no later than April 2, 2020. A summary of the employment-related provisions and answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the Act are provided below.

On March 23 from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. CT, we will host a webinar titled “Employer Obligations Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act”.

Please register here and join us as we discuss the latest guidance for employers and answer your frequently asked questions.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

Employers must provide paid sick time to employees who are unable to work (or telework) for the following purposes through December 31, 2020:

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order related to COVID-19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order described in (1) above or has been advised as described in (2) above.
  5. The employee is caring for a child if the school or place of care has been closed or the child care provider of such child is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.


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On Saturday, March 14, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Act is expected to be voted on by the U.S. Senate, and signed by President Trump early this week.

There are two different versions of the bill that are being circulated, but both versions contain extended FMLA

In an article published by the Nashville Business Journal, we urge employers to get ready for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s data reporting. Although facing criticism, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is moving forward with its pay data collection, and with the reporting deadline set for September 30, employers should prepare now.

Employers with more than 100 employees and any federal contractors with more with 50 employees are required to submit an EEO-1 survey, which has historically analyzed organizations’ employment data categorized by sex, race and ethnicity. Under the new reporting requirements, employers and federal contractors with more than 100 employees will also report compensation data.


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Bob Horton will be presenting on recent pay equity trends at the Tennessee Human Rights Commission’s (THRC) 2019 Employment Law Seminar.I am looking forward to presenting on recent pay equity trends at the Tennessee Human Rights Commission’s (THRC) 2019 Employment Law Seminar.

The seminar will be held at the One Century Place Conference Center in Nashville on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. CST.

For more information and to register, visit

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, employers should ensure compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new electronic reporting requirements for injury and illness data. The deadline for compliance was December 15, 2017, but OSHA’s website states that they will be accepting submissions of Form 300A through December 31, 2017.

What is the purpose of the new OSHA reporting rule?

According to OSHA, “making injury information publicly available will ‘nudge’ employers to focus on safety.” OSHA will post the establishment-specific injury and illness data it collects under this recordkeeping rule on its public website (after removing personally identifiable information).

The final rule also prohibits retaliation against any employees for reporting injuries or illnesses and requires that employers notify employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation.


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On November 29, 2017, a California Superior Court judge ruled that employers that require employees to set aside time for a shift and have them call in to determine if they will indeed be working are required to pay employees “reporting time pay,” even if the employee never actually steps foot inside the business for a shift.  This ruling serves as a cautionary reminder to employers that California disfavors “on-call shifts,” and employers should expect to pay employees a premium to utilize such shifts.

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Several new minimum wage rates are slated to take effect on January 1, 2018 in various cities throughout California, as well as the state as a whole.  California employers should begin preparing now to adjust employee wages to ensure compliance with the new rates.

A summary of the new minimum wage rates for nonexempt employees is provided below:


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Although the Trump administration rescinded its guidance on worker misclassification earlier this year and appears to have otherwise taken a “softer approach” to misclassification enforcement, California employers should remain diligent in properly classifying their workers and should not allow lax federal enforcement to lead to similarly lax corporate policies.  California employers remain subject to strict laws governing worker misclassification.  California law presumes that all workers who render services for another are non-exempt employees unless employers prove that they are independent contractors or exempt employees. Cal. Lab. Code § 3357. Employers who willfully misclassify their workers can be subject to steep penalties.

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