Category Archives: Wage and Hour Issues

Quirky Question #223, Meal Periods Outside California

Question:

We have offices in 13 states, a headquarters in Iowa and a manufacturing facility in Alaska.  Several employees have used our “open suggestion box” to request that we allow them to work through lunch so they can go home earlier.  I am aware of California’s unique laws which require that non-exempt employees be offered meal periods of at least 30 minutes during which they are relieved of all duty.  I am assuming this is applicable to California only.  Are short lunch periods a problem in any other states? Answer→

Quirky Question #214, Christmas Bonus as Part of Regular Rate of Pay When Calculating Overtime Pay

Question:

 Each year, we provide our employees with a Christmas bonus of varying amounts.  We’ve always done this because we want to reward our employees for a hard year of work and also spread a bit of holiday cheer.  We were recently told by someone that we may have to pay additional overtime wages if we keep giving our employees a Christmas bonus.  We don’t want to take away the Christmas bonus since our employees really appreciate it, but we might have to if this is true.  Is this person right and is this true in Minnesota and Iowa? Answer→

Quirky Question #207, New York Wage Deduction Law

Question:

We are a New York employer.  We had an outside vendor doing our payroll and we recently discovered several of our employees were overpaid three months in a row.   Is there anything we can do other than get the employees’ agreement to make a deduction to recoup the overpayments?  I seem to recall that many states, California comes to mind, forbid deductions except in very limited circumstances. Answer→

Quirky Question #204, Unpaid Internships

Question:

I am a Human Resources representative of an independent for-profit company that publishes multiple travel and vacation magazines.  Some of my company’s executives have expressed an interest in hiring interns for next summer and for a possible year-round program, if the program is successful.  Currently, we aren’t sure what we would like our interns to do exactly but one thing is clear – the company wants to save costs by having an unpaid internship program.  I am generally aware of recent litigation involving unpaid internships, but I am not sure what this means for my company and our potential unpaid internship program.  Can you provide some guidance? Answer→

Quirky Question #201, Tip Sharing

Question:

I run a restaurant chain that operates in different states, and I’m about to open my first location in Minnesota.  We generally ask our servers to share a portion of their tips with bussers.  We also include mandatory charges for large groups.  I’ve heard the rules surrounding tips and service charges are quite unique in Minnesota.  Is there anything special I need to be aware of? Answer→

Quirky Question # 183, Retaliating Against an Applicant Who Previously Sued Under the FLSA

Question:

We recently made an offer to an applicant for an important job at our company. The offer was conditioned on a satisfactory background check and her passing our standard drug test. She had no problem with the drug test. But, when we did the background check, we discovered that she had sued her former employer for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Based on that fact, we want to pull the offer. Do you see any problems with that decision? Are we buying litigation? Answer→

Oracle: Non-Residents Performing Work in CA For CA Companies Are Covered by CA Overtime Provisions

Sullivan v. Oracle Corporation, et al.

June 30, 2011, in Sullivan v. Oracle Corporation, et al., the California Supreme Court decided three certified questions from the Ninth Circuit regarding work performed in the State of California by non-residents for California based employers.

Three plaintiffs worked as “Instructors” for Oracle Corporation from 2001 to 2004. As Instructors, Plaintiffs’ job was to train Oracle’s customers in the use of the company’s products. Two Plaintiffs resided in Colorado, one Plaintiff resided in Arizona. Plaintiffs worked mainly in their home states but also traveled to work in California and 19 other states. In the three-year period, one plaintiff worked approximately 74 days in California, one worked 110 days and one worked 20 days.

Plaintiffs sued Oracle under three theories. First, Plaintiffs claimed overtime compensation under the Labor Code for days longer than eight hours, and weeks longer than 40 hours, in which such work was performed entirely in California (See Lab. Code §§ 510 (a), 1194.) Second, Plaintiffs restated the same claim alleging violation of California’s overtime laws as one for restitution under the Unfair Competition Laws (“UCL”) (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17203.) Third, and again under the UCL, Plaintiffs claimed restitution in the amount of overtime compensation due under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) (29 U.S.C. § 207(a)) for weeks longer than 40 hours worked entirely in states other than in California. Answer→