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CLIENT ALERT: U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division Sets Enforcement Record

In advance of Halloween, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the results of its Wage and Hour Division's (WHD) recovery efforts for Fiscal Year 2019, and it reads like a horror story.

The good news to lull you into a feeling of safety was that the 18,844 Complaints Registered was the fewest amount over the past 22 years or published records.

Even more reassuring was that that total number of Concluded Cases was the fewest since 2009/10.

NOW FOR THE SCARE...

the total amount of Wages Recovered was $322M!  This amount overwhelmingly surpasses the $260M average of total wages recovered for the previous five (5) years.  These wage recoveries do not include any data from civil litigation.

WHAT WERE THE VIOLATIONS?

As usual, the vast majority of enforcement actions were Unpaid Overtime - approximately 83%.  This includes the typical errors in calculating overtime for employees as well as the Misclassification of Independent Contractors.  

WHAT INDUSTRIES WERE HIT THE HARDEST?

The biggest increase in wage violations hit the Construction Industry, which saw a greater than 25% increase in back wages recovery from the previous year.  A similar increase struck Health Care, which increased just under 25% from FY 2018.  The Food Services and Hotels and Motels industries both saw significant decreases in violations from previous years.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Frequent followers of these posts know we highlight that, each year, the annual budget of the Wage and Hour Division increases to allow more investigators and more enforcement action.  Emboldened with a record recovery, we can expect more and more investigations for years to come.  It means that Construction and Health Care employers need to take a close look at their wage and hour practices to ensure compliance.

For questions about your Wage and Hour practices, the recent changes to Overtime Exemption Thresholds, the Increase to Minimum Wage, or any other Labor + Employment questions, please contact any of our Team Members.  

Jeffrey C. Miller, Esq.

Labor + Employment Partner

BMD Cleveland | 200 Public Square | Suite 3270 | Cleveland, OH 44114

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.

FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.

Finding Opportunity in Adversity: Optimism for the Construction Industry

Looking for good news? If so, you are not alone. Aside from the collective mental, physical and emotional human toll imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, entire sectors of the economy have been ravaged, and old, familiar ways of doing business have been disrupted. Although deemed essential, the construction industry has not been immune to interruption and uncertainty during these unprecedented times. Amid new health and safety concerns, coupled with financial uncertainty, progress on projects has slowed, and the start dates for a number of new projects slated to begin in 2020 have been deferred. However, resilience has always been a trademark of contractors, subcontractors and other industry professionals. Reports indicate that while the construction industry lost more than one million jobs February through April, at least 600,000 of those jobs had been gained back by the end of June.

Yard Sign Do’s and Don’ts: How to Avoid Legal Challenges to Municipal Sign Codes this Election Season

As the nation heads into the tail end of the 2020 general election, municipalities will inevitably face challenges as they seek to regulate the seasonal proliferation of yard signs on residential property. While the matter may seem trifling, a seemingly benign yet content-based sign ordinance can result in significant legal exposure for municipalities that have not heeded recent Supreme Court decisions on content neutrality.