By now, most San Diego employers understand that the new federal overtime pay rule take effect December 1 of this year. If you think you will be able to get past these new regulations we have a few things to keep in mind. Wage and hour lawsuits have increased by more than 450 percent over the past 20 years. The spike in the recent three years locally is another indicator that local business owners and employers should be prudent in applying the new federal overtime pay rule. It’s no longer just the employees that are being targeted by plaintiffs lawyers who help them to file a lawsuit against present and former employers. It’s federal and State of California agencies as well.
You should know that 75% of lawsuits brought against employers last year by the US Department of Labor resulted in payouts to the employee. The vertical market segments which suffering the highest number of cases were hotel and accommodation and food service employers. These were closely followed by healthcare and social services, retail, and the construction industry. San Diego employers should take note of the ongoing class action here in San Diego Superior Court against Apple relating to the failure to provide meal and rest breaks, as well as unpaid overtime claims.
The Watkins Firm advises our business and employer clients regarding compliance with all federal, state and local laws as well as developing legal issues that empower and protect the position of San Diego employers. One example is a recent case out of Connecticut where a municipal employee sued her city for requiring an “enhanced fitness certification” at the completion of her FMLA leave. The Court sided with the city (the employer) ruling that the City was within its rights as an employer to demand the higher level of proof that the employee was ready to return for work.
There are complex laws and regulations that govern an employer’s ability to integrate the higher level or “enhanced fitness certification” standard as part of the overall employment risk management strategy. Uniform policies that apply to all employees across a broad class must be consistently communicated and applied, and enforcement must be well documented. This also applies to all aspects of the hiring process, onboarding and associated employment contracts and employee handbooks. Policies and procedures must comply with all federal, state and local laws and regulations. The Watkins Firm has decades of service to the San Diego business community and our track record in employer defense cases is quite strong.
We remind San Diego employers the new federal overtime pay rule take effect December 1 and preparations should be completed by now. Have you communicated clearly with your employees and published new policies and procedures, as well as updates to employee handbooks? Have you required your employees to sign an acknowledgment of these policy and procedural changes? Is your management team trained and prepared to consistently and fairly apply the new rules? Have you required overtime to be approved in advance and in writing by the employee’s direct supervisor?
There are many steps the Watkins Firm employer defense attorneys can recommend that will help you to be prepared when the new federal overtime pay rule takes effect December 1 of this year. If you are concerned about your exposure or responsibilities as an employer, or would like to review your policies and procedures, employment contracts and employee handbooks we invite you to call for a free consultation at 858-535-1511.