Employment Law This Week®: Salary History, Wage and Hour Compliance Training, Non-Competes, Misclassified Workers

Episode 38: Week of August 15, 2016

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We invite you to view Employment Law This Week® - a weekly rundown of the latest news in the field, brought to you by Epstein Becker Green. We look at the latest trends, important court decisions, and new developments that could impact your work. Join us every Monday for a new five-minute episode! Read the firm's press release here and subscribe for updates.

This week’s stories include ...

(1) Massachusetts Bans Salary History Question

Our top story: Beginning in 2018, pay history will be off limits for Massachusetts job applications and interviews. In a unique attempt to close the gender wage gap, the state has passed a pay equity law that will bar employers from asking applicants about their previous salaries. Employers will also be prohibited from seeking that information from an applicant’s prior employers. While this provision is the first of its kind in the country, the new law also contains more common equal pay protections, broadens the definition of “equal work,” and prevents employers from banning the discussion of salary among employees. Mickey Neuhauser, from Epstein Becker Green, has more.

“The hope is that by taking the salary history question off the table, employers will rely only on relevant factors and won't even unconsciously rely upon an irrelevant factor, such as the employee’s prior salary. . . . The law does not prohibit applicants from disclosing their current salaries or salary history, and it doesn't prevent applicants and employers from negotiating over salary. However, the law does not protect employers from paying a salary lower than what would otherwise be permitted under the act simply because an individual has agreed to accept that salary. In other words, an employee cannot agree to be illegally underpaid.” Click here for more information.

(2)  Subway Partners with the DOL

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Subway teamed up to break new ground. The world’s largest fast-food franchisor has reached a voluntary agreement with the DOL to provide wage and hour compliance training to franchisees. The agency conducted more 800 investigations into underpayment of workers at Subway franchises in recent years. This partnership will focus on helping the franchises comply with federal wage and hour laws moving forward. While the DOL hopes to enter into more agreements like this one, franchisors are hesitant, noting that the deal could make them joint employers under the National Labor Relations Board’s standard. Click here for more information. 

(3) New York Attorney General Cracks Down on Non-Competes

New York’s crackdown on non-compete agreements continues. An investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that Examination Management Services Inc. required all of its workers, even those who had no access to trade secrets or sensitive information, to sign non-compete agreements. Non-compete agreements in the state are usually permissible only for employees with a high level of access to trade secrets or sensitive information. Under the agreement, the company will stop using the non-competes for most employees in New York.

(4) Citigroup Unit Pays Misclassified Workers After DOL Probe

A Citigroup affiliate shells out a hefty sum for misclassifying workers. A subsidiary of Citigroup in Florida recently paid almost $2 million to workers whom it had misclassified as exempt from overtime pay. An investigation by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that the company mistakenly applied the Fair Labor Standards Act’s exemption to a group of 882 employees. This case serves as a reminder that salaried workers are not necessarily exempt from overtime.

(5) Tip of the Week

Lisa Glass, Chief Human Resources Officer for The Child Center of NY, is here with advice on how to create an effective onboarding program.

“An important way organizations can help combat employee turnover and help employees adjust to the new organization is through an effective onboarding program. An onboarding program allows employees to understand the expectations of their role in terms of performance as well as social expectations. . . . Effective onboarding is key in creating employee expectations and sharing organization values. The goals must align with the goals of the organization, and the program initiative must be driven by senior management, and not solely driven by human resources.”

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