The District of Columbia has joined New York and California in enacting a Wage Theft Prevention Act. And while D.C. employers have been required to provide certain notices since late February, the deadline for providing notices to current employees and meeting record-keeping requirements (including keeping more specific time records) is Wednesday, May 27th.
Wage Theft Prevention laws require employers to provide employees with a detailed notice setting out details about their compensation and how they are employed. While in California these notices need only be presented to non-exempt employees, in New York they must be given to all new employees (a requirement that employees be provided with notices annually was recently repealed).
The D.C. law requires that a notice similar to those required in these other jurisdictions be provided to all current employees by Wednesday, May 27th (a sample of the “Notice of Hire” to be provided to employees notice can be found here). Employers with employees in the District of Columbia need to act fast to provide these notices and post the required posting regarding the Wage Theft Prevention Act by the deadline.
But that’s not all…. the D.C. law also requires employers to record non-exempt employees’ “precise time worked”, rather than just “hours worked”. While the law doesn’t define “precise time worked,” it presumably requires that the employer record the employee’s start time, end time, and the beginning and end of any break time, rather than simply “eight hours worked.” The law requires that employers maintain these records for all employees who are non-exempt under D.C. standards (which are more employee-friendly than federal standards).
Companies with D.C. employees should confirm that notices are provided, that the required poster is posted and that a method for recording “precise time worked” is in effect by the time employees return from the Memorial Day holiday.
Statistics released earlier this month by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts show an 8.8% increase in the number of Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) cases in the year ending in September 2014 as compared to the prior year.
This dramatic increase is the result of a variety of factors. First, the law itself has many ambiguities in its terms and definitions. Although the Department of Labor has attempted to reduce ambiguity in its guidance and regulations, many terms and issues are still unresolved and leave open the potential for legal claims. Also, the law is old. Applying a law passed in 1938 to the modern workplace, with drastic advances in technology, can be very difficult and often times leads to confusion. Finally, both employees and the attorneys to whom they may go to challenge a termination are becoming more savvy regarding wage and hour issues. As a result, we are seeing many cases where a terminated employee who comes into an attorney’s office looking to sue for “wrongful termination” walks out with a wage and hour claim – potentially even a class claim.
Employers should continue to review wage and hour practices to make sure that employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt and are being paid in accordance with local requirements. In addition, employers with specific concerns about class or collective actions should consider an arbitration program, which would require all claims to be dealt with in arbitration on an individual – not class or collective – basis.
During last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama announced that he would issue an Executive Order raising the minimum wage for employees working under new federal contracts to $10.10. President Obama pushed Congress to raise the regular minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and peg it to inflation. The general minimum wage increase is being championed by Democrats in both Houses of Congress, but with the current congressional deadlock, its passage remains unlikely.