Minnesota Cafe Fights Back: Adds Minimum Wage Charge to Bills

Cafe-Oasis-minimum-wage-fee

Earlier, we learned that business owners in the SeaTac community of Washington had found innovative ways to combat the effects of a mandated new $15-an-hour minimum wage — charging for parking, ending free food, making employees pay for uniforms — and now a Minnesota restaurant has taken the battle to the customers.

The Oasis Cafe in Stillwater, Minn., has instituted a 35-charge for each bill to help cover the costs of the state's new $8-an-hour minimum wage effective Aug. 1.

Owner Craig Beemer says the 75-cent increase will cost him $10,000 a year. Other state restaurants, such as Blue Plate with its eight locations, are following suit.

To understand the nation's wage and hour laws, please get a copy of our new Restaurant Industry Wage and Hour Compliance Program.

NB: Waffle Fries? Hmmmm….


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

LinkedIn Hit with $6M in Unpaid Wages and Liquidated Damages

LinkedIn Corp. has agreed to pay $3,346,195 in overtime back wages and $2,509,646 in liquidated damages to 359 former and current employees working at company branches in California, Illinois, Nebraska and New York. An investigation by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that LinkedIn was in violation of the overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). When notified of the violations, LinkedIn agreed to pay all the overtime back wages due and take proactive steps to prevent repeat violations.

“This company has shown a great deal of integrity by fully cooperating with investigators and stepping up to the plate without hesitation to help make workers whole,” said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. “We are particularly pleased that LinkedIn also has committed to take positive and practical steps towards securing future compliance.”
 
LinkedIn failed to record, account and pay for all hours worked in a workweek, investigators found. In addition to paying back wages and liquidated damages, LinkedIn entered into an enhanced compliance agreement with the department that includes agreeing to: provide compliance training and distribute its policy prohibiting off-the-clock work to all nonexempt employees and their managers; meet with managers of current affected employees to remind them that overtime work must be recorded and paid for; and remind employees of LinkedIn’s policy prohibiting retaliation against any employee who raises concerns about workplace issues.

“'Off the clock’ hours are all too common for the American worker. This practice harms workers, denies them the wages they have rightfully earned and takes away time with families,” said Susana Blanco, district director for the division in San Francisco. “We urge all employers, large and small, to review their pay practices to ensure employees know their basic workplace rights and that the commitment to compliance works through all levels of the organization. The department is committed to protecting the rights of workers and leveling the playing field for all law-abiding employers.”

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular hourly rates for hours worked beyond 40 per week. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees. Additionally, the law requires employers to maintain accurate time and payroll records, and it prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under the law.

For a more thorough understanding of the nation's wage-and-hour and other workplace regulations, please consult Personnel Concepts' FLSA Compliance Program.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

MSHA to Increase Frequency of Fines as a Deterrent

The Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced it has published a proposed rule that would amend its existing civil penalty regulations by simplifying the criteria for assessing health and safety violations and increasing emphasis on more serious safety and health conditions, thus providing improved safety and health for miners.

"This proposed rule would simplify the process and increase consistency, objectivity and efficiency in the citations and orders that inspectors issue. Furthermore, it would facilitate improved compliance and early resolution of enforcement issues," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of Labor for mine safety and health.

MSHA's proposal is structured to encourage operators to be more accountable and proactive in addressing safety and health conditions at their mines. Under the proposal, total penalties proposed by MSHA and the distribution of the penalty amount by mine size would remain generally the same; however, the penalty amount for small metal and nonmetal mines would decrease. The existing minimum penalty of $112 and the maximum penalty of $70,000 for non-flagrant violations would not change, but minimum penalties for unwarrantable failure violations — that is, violations that constitute more than just ordinary negligence — would increase to provide a greater deterrent for mine operators who allow these violations to occur.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

HHS Seeks to Verify Obamacare Subsidized Enrollees’ Eligibility

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working to verify the eligibility of those who received subsidized health care policies during the open enrollment period that ended March 31 but had discrepancies on their applications.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), consumers with discrepancies on their applications — generally, unverified information — have 90 days to resolve the issue, but HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, facing a backlog of some 2 million cases, has extended the grace period.

As recently as the end of May, 1.2 million consumers had inconsistencies with their reported incomes, 461,000 had yet to verify their citizenship, and 505,000 needed to prove their immigration status. Of those, some 650,000 cases had been processed by the middle of July.

HHS spokesperson Tasha Bradley said the department is conducting the verification process "to make sure individuals and families get the tax credits and coverage they deserve and that no one receives a benefit they shouldn't."

If in the verification process, reported information has been misstated, those ineligible might end up paying higher premiums or even repaying some of their subsidies.

To understand the ACA better and learn how it applies to your business, no matter how large or small, please procure a copy of our ACA Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

Disapproval of Obamacare Rises to New Height

After remaining steady for several months, the share of Americans expressing an unfavorable view of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rose to 53 percent in July, up eight percentage points from June to its highest level since the ACA was passed in 2010, according to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. The poll also finds that a majority of the public continues to prefer that Congress work to improve the health care law (60%) rather than to repeal and replace it (35%).

The share of Americans with a favorable view of the ACA held relatively steady in July at 37 percent, little changed since March. The share of the public who offered no opinion about the ACA fell to 11 percent in July, down from 16 percent in June.

The share of the public preferring to see the law improved rather than repealed has held steady for several months. It was 59 percent in May and 58 percent in April. Similarly, in January 55 percent of the public said opponents should accept that the ACA is the law and work to improve it, while 38 percent said the law’s opponents should continue efforts to repeal it. Even among Republicans (32%) and those with an unfavorable view of the law (36%), about a third would prefer to see the ACA improved rather than repealed and replaced, the July poll finds.

(more…)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

Another Executive Order Targeted at Federal Contractors

Failing to get a divided Congress to buy into his agenda, President Obama has lifted his pen again to penalize those who deal with the federal government as contractors.

Henceforth (after Jan. 1, 2016, anyway), those seeking federal contracts of at least $500,000 will have to reveal labor law violations dating back three years.

Dubbed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, the document potentially affects some 24,000 businesses with 28 million workers operating under federal contracts, provided they seek new federal contracts.

House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) was quick to label the action a sign of "weakness" that the president couldn't cooperate with Congress.

For a more thorough understanding of the nation's wage-and-hour and other workplace regulations, please consult Personnel Concepts' FLSA Compliance Program.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

DOL to Increase On-Site FMLA Investigations

The Department of Labor (DOL) is ramping up on-site investigations of company Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) practices in an effort to uncover systemic abuse, including refusing to authorize leave and discouraging employees from taking FMLA leave.

In confirming the new emphasis, Branch Chief Helen Applewhaite of the DOL called 2014 a "pivotal year for FMLA enforcement."

Now is a good time to audit and review your company's FMLA policies and implementation. If you need help, please get a copy of our informative and comprehensive FMLA Compliance Program.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

House Republicans to Sue President to Enforce ACA Letter of the Law

In a move related to what they see as President Obama's continual flouting of the Constitution, House Republicans have voted to sue the president in federal court over the changes his administration made to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without the authorization of Congress. 

The focus of the lawsuit will be the Shared Responsibility Provision of the ACA — the so-called "play or pay" provision requiring large employers to offer health insurance or pay a fine to the government. By letter of the ACA, the provision was to have kicked in this past Jan. 1, but the administration has delayed its implementation twice. It will now phase in over two years beginning next Jan. 1.

The largely party-line vote to sue was 225-201.

Democrats have vowed to make the lawsuit a campaign issue by intimating Republicans will impeach Obama after the November elections. House Speaker John Boehner denies the allegation.

To understand the ACA better and learn how it applies to your business, no matter how large or small, please procure a copy of our ACA Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

McDonald’s a Joint Employer with Franchisees, NLRB General Counsel Proclaims

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Office of the General Counsel has investigated charges alleging that McDonald’s franchisees and their franchisor, McDonald’s, USA, LLC, violated the rights of employees as a result of activities surrounding employee protests.

The Office of the General Counsel found merit in some of the charges and no merit in others. The Office of the General Counsel has authorized complaints on alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). If the parties cannot reach settlement in these cases, complaints will issue and McDonald’s, USA, LLC will be named as a joint employer respondent.

The NLRB Office of the General Counsel has had 181 cases involving McDonald’s filed since November 2012. Of those cases, 68 were found to have no merit, 64 cases are currently pending investigation, and 43 cases have been found to have merit. In the 43 cases where complaint has been authorized, McDonald’s franchisees and/or McDonald’s, USA, LLC will be named as a respondent if parties are unable to reach settlement.

In short, this is the first time a franchisor has been linked legally to actions of its franchisees, and the corporate giant could be sued along with the named franchisees should no settlement be reached with the franchisees.

For more information on how the NLRA and NLRB can affect your business, please consult a copy of Personnel Concepts' National Labor Relations Act Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top

IRS Releases ACA Employer Reporting Forms But Not Instructions on How to Use Them

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released draft versions of the forms that employers with 100-plus employees must begin using in 2015 to show compliance with the employer shared responsibility and minimum essential coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Employers with 50-99 employees must use them (when finalized) beginning in 2016.

Draft instructions on using the forms will not be issued until late August.

“In accordance with the IRS' normal process, these draft forms are being provided to help stakeholders, including employers, tax professionals and software providers, prepare for these new reporting provisions and to invite comments from them,” the IRS said in a statement accompanying the forms' release.

The various forms, all dated July 24, 2014, can be found on the IRS's Draft Tax Forms page.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
GoTo top Top