The Ninth Circuit affirmed a $54.6 million jury verdict for truck drivers who said Walmart violated California wage and hour laws including failure to pay minimum wage for layovers, rest breaks and inspections as a matter of law. The majority of the damages awarded in this case rested on whether Walmart exercised control over its employees’ off duty time, a significant question that has been litigated in several contexts in recent years. This case is another reminder that employers who exercise even minimum control over employees during off duty hours could face hefty awards from a jury for unpaid wages. In the present case, the Court held that Walmart exercised enough control over truck drivers during their off duty periods that it was tantamount to working hours. Ridgeway v. Walmart Inc., DBA Wal-Mart Transportation LLC. (2020).

With the New Year right around the corner, agricultural employers must review and update their overtime policies yet again to comply with Assembly Bill 1066. The timetable created by Assembly Bill 1066 back in 2016 will continue to be felt in the agricultural community until 2025. If you recall, the new law passed gradual change to overtime rules in order to align California Wage Order 14 overtime to be paid on the same basis as most other industries.

The changes are a phase-in schedule that require employers with 26 or more employees to pay overtime, effective January 01, 2020, after nine hours of work. The schedule for changes can be found here. Small employers with 25 or less employees can still pay straight wages for workdays that are 10 hours or less, or workweeks that are 60 hours or less. As a reminder, these small employers with 25 or less employees will be effected beginning January 01, 2022, at which point they will be required to pay overtime for workdays greater than 9.5 or workweeks over 55 hours.

We have just received word that the Department of Labor (“DOL”) is showing up to agricultural employers, and in particular Citrus Growers, in the Central Valley and the Desert performing Wage and Hour Audits. The most critical thing for employers to do in the event of an audit is BE PREPARED! Ensure you are in compliance and that your employee and supervisors are prepared. DOL can request verification of compliance by way of document production that can go back 4 years.

Penalties for non-compliance and the accompanying civil money penalties can be expensive. If you have any questions about what to do when the DOL shows up, contact the experts at the Saqui Law Group, a Division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated. 

Last month the 10th Circuit confirmed that the Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”) applies to cannabis industry employees. At issue, the cannabis industry titan Helix TCS Inc. – a publically-traded company providing security, inventory control, and compliance services to the marijuana industry in Colorado. The Company’s former security guards filed a class action lawsuit alleging that they were misclassified as exempt from FLSA overtime obligations.

On October 1, 2019, the Ninth Circuit ruled that McDonald’s Corp. (“McDonald’s”) could not be held liable as a joint employer for certain wage and hour violations committed at restaurants owned and operated by a McDonald’s franchise owner in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Because McDonald’s does not exercise direct control over the wages or hours of the franchise owner’s employees, the Ninth Circuit did not allow those employees to bring their wage and hour claims against McDonald’s.

California employers may remember the scramble that occurred in 2016 after the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) under the Obama administration revised the regulations governing white-collar exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). At that time, the DOL intended to more than double the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees under federal law.

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