Shouldn’t Employers Be Permitted to Prohibit Defamatory or Inappropriate Comments by Employees? New NLRB Report Says No.
It may come as a surprise to many private employers, who often don’t realize that the requirements of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) apply to non-unionized workplaces. However, in a recently released report the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) addresses the decisions invalidating a variety of handbooks rules found in many employer handbooks.
For more information on how this applies to you read the full alert.
Both Federal and Massachusetts law require that employers pay their non-exempt employees overtime wages whenever employees work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The law requires that employers pay overtime when they knew or should have known that the employee worked more than 40 hours. As a result, employers can be liable for overtime hours which they did not specifically authorize. Employers can minimize this liability by establishing an overtime policy and a mechanism for requesting and reporting overtime.
Overtime policies should include: who is eligible for overtime; what, if any conditions apply to the authorization of overtime; a specific mechanism for employees to request authorization to work overtime; and a specific mechanism for employees to report overtime hours which have been worked. Any policy should be clearly and conspicuously communicated to employees, and consistently enforced. Managers should not, under any circumstances, instruct employees to falsely record time or avoid reporting overtime hours worked.
Maintaining an overtime policy will not only result in transparent workplace expectations but it could also help an employer defend against an expensive wage and hour claim. In Vitali v. Reit Management and Research, LLC, SUCV2012-00588-BLS1 (Mass Super. June 2, 2014), a Massachusetts employee claimed she had worked through her lunch regularly and as a result often worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, entitling her to overtime. However, her employer had an overtime policy in place which required advanced approval for working overtime, as well as mechanisms for reporting overtime hours, which the employee had not followed despite her familiarity with the policy. The employee presented no evidence that management knew that the employee was working through lunch. Because the employer had clearly communicated rules and policies in place, and because the employee had failed to follow them, the employee was not able to maintain her claim for unpaid wages and the employer escaped a potentially expensive claim.
For more information on overtime policies, please contact a member of our Employment Law Group.
In March 2014, one year ago, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the U.S. Secretary of Labor to make changes to the federal overtime regulations concerning the “white collar” exemptions to the overtime requirements. The President directed the Secretary to “restore the common sense principles” to the overtime exemptions.
In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a target date of November 2014 for publishing the proposed changes. The Department subsequently engaged in meetings with businesses and employees in which it solicited input and ideas, including on raising the minimum required salary level from its current level of $23,660 and adjusting the primary duties test. The Department did not meet its November 2014 target date and, instead, set a new target date of February 2015. The February date has come and gone without publication of the proposed regulations.
Last week, on March 18, the U.S. Secretary of Labor stated that the Department was “working overtime” on the proposed changes and that he “hoped” they would be published this Spring. Once published, the proposed changes will be subject to public comment and, most likely, substantial modification. Consequently, the final revised regulations will most likely not go into effect until sometime in 2016.
We will keep clients updated on the proposed changes. In the meantime, please feel free to contact the Employment Law team with any questions.
By: Scott Connolly
A physician’s employment agreement with a group practice or hospital is an important document. It may set expectations regarding clinical duties, working conditions, the resources the physician needs to treat patients, service locations, and evaluation for ownership (for group practices). These factors will greatly affect the physician’s professional and personal life. A physician’s employment agreement also will establish key contractual obligations for both the physician and the group practice or hospital concerning compensation and benefits, the term of employment, early termination and its consequences, professional liability coverage, patient records, post-termination restrictions, indemnification, and mediation and dispute resolution.
Here are 10 important points that should be carefully reviewed in a physician’s employment agreement.
For more information on this topic, please contact Scott Connolly.