Over the last several years, there has been quite a push to broaden who is considered an employee – as well as who is considered an employer – under relevant federal (and even state) laws. For instance, the Department of Labor has stepped up its efforts in singling out employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors. Their recent memo on this subject – which we wrote about here – is the most recent evidence of that. The National Labor Relations Board has also been active in this general area, issuing complaints against McDonalds arguing that a number of its franchisors have as much control over employees as the franchisees do, and therefore are just as legally responsible for ensuring compliance with certain employment laws. These arguments have been advanced by more than just government agencies, however. They have been made by private plaintiffs under anti-discrimination law, too.
With the arrival of summer, many companies are hiring college and high school students to work as interns during summer break. Often, employers do not pay interns at all, or only pay them a stipend or other amount which is lower than the minimum wage. From an employer’s perspective, it may make good business sense not to pay the intern since they usually are not providing the same experience, skill, and expertise which regular employees provide. In addition, usually the practical experience, relationship building, and resume-padding are more valuable to the intern than any compensation.
As we have highlighted previously on this blog, employers have faced an onslaught of wage-and-hour litigation in recent years. Many of those cases have been filed as class or collective actions on behalf of hundreds and even thousands of plaintiff-employees. Most of these cases allege that employees have not been compensated for overtime hours worked as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
The practice of allowing employees to work from home – telecommuting – is a growing trend. After all, today’s technology allows employees to work from almost anywhere, and telecommuting can be beneficial for both employers and employees. For employers, telecommunicating can be a less expensive alternative to traditional brick and mortar locations. Employees like telecommuting because of the flexibility it provides.
The West Virginia Legislature’s 2014 regular session concluded last month. Like in many states, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill to increase the state minimum wage this year. In addition, following the lead of several other state legislatures, the West Virginia Legislature also passed a bill relating to pregnant employees. Both laws have significant implications for West Virginia employers.
As we have reported on this blog before, there has been a trend among employers to adopt mandatory arbitration agreements. For many employers, arbitration is preferred to civil litigation because the process is usually faster and, as a result, tends to be less expensive. In part, this increased use of mandatory arbitration agreements can be attributed to a series of recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court that have reaffirmed the validity of arbitration agreements. West Virginia courts have not always been receptive to arbitration agreements and have found them to be invalid in a variety of contexts, including the employment context. However, this month the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has issued two important decisions that found arbitration agreements to be valid. The Court’s decision in New v. GameStop, Inc. d/b/a GameStop, No. 12-1371, which upheld an arbitration agreement in the employment context, has important ramifications for all West Virginia employers that use or plan to use arbitration agreements.
Regular readers of the Employment Essentials blog know that we frequently post articles about the interplay between the workplace and social media. Most of our social media posts relate to the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) frequent examination of the topic. In fact, two years ago this month, I posted an article about a decision from an Administrative Law Judge with the NLRB Division of Judges who found that Facebook postings constituted protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).