On July 14, 2016, several house democrats, including Representative Gwen Graham from Florida, sponsored the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act. The OREA (H.B. 5813) proposes to change the Department of Labor’s new overtime rules in two significant ways. First, the OREA would provide a gradual schedule to increase the minimum salary required to meet the salary basis test for purposes of determining whether an employee is exempt from overtime. Second, the OREA would eliminate one of the more controversial aspects of the DOL’s new rules, the automatic three-year increase to the salary threshold. The OREA was read twice and then referred to the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The OREA is supported by the US Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human Resource Management, and opposed by the AFL-CIO.
See a summary of the proposed changes here: http://schrader.house.gov/overtime/
For a list of members of the Education and Workforce Committee (there are two Florida members), see http://www.house.gov/representatives/#state_fl. Phone numbers of Florida’s Representatives can be found here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/#state_fl
On August 1, 2016, the Department of Labor increased civil money penalties for more than 60 kinds of violations of labor and employment laws, ranging across the board from wage-and-hour rules and occupational health standards to benefits requirements and immigration regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has seen the first increase to its civil penalties in 25 years, with maximum fines rising by nearly 80% to $12,471 for serious violations and $124,709 for willful or repeated violations. Other significant increases involve penalties for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s prohibitions on displacing a U.S. worker with an H1B visa holder (rising from $35,000 to $50,758), as well as for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s prohibitions on child labor (rising to $12,080 per violation, $54,910 if serious injury or death occurs, and $109,820 if child labor violations are willful or repeated resulting in serious injury of death). Penalties for willful violations of the FLSA’s wage and overtime provisions have also increased from $1,100 to $1,894. The increase in fines for willful FLSA violations comes on the heels of the new DOL rule extending overtime protections to nearly 4 million more workers, which could drive more wage-and-hour litigation. The DOL began applying these new, increased rates to penalties assessed after August 1, 2016.
The DOL’s announcement of its new rules to adjust civil penalties may be found here: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/opa/opa20160630.
Lindsey L. Dunn
The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) applies to employers with 50 or more employees in 20 or more work weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The FMLA requires covered employers to post a General FMLA Notice that explains not only the protections and requirements of the FMLA, but also how employees can file complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging violations of the FMLA. The notice should be displayed in a conspicuous area, and posted regardless of whether any employees are FMLA eligible. Earlier this year, the DOL released a new version of this notice. Although employers can continue with the existing poster, the new poster presents the required information in a more user friendly manner and its use ensures the most recent required information is posted.
The new poster can be downloaded from: https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/fmlaen.pdf