Stuart M. Gerson, Member of the Firm in the Litigation and Health Care & Life Sciences practices, in the firm’s Washington, DC, and New York offices, was quoted in the Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report, in “Offshore Oil Rigs Governed by Federal Wage Law, Justices Say,” by Erin Mulvaney. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Federal wage and hour law applies to offshore oil rig workers, rather than state laws that govern similar issues such as minimum wage, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 10.

The decision is a win for companies that operate oil rigs off the coast of California. … Business groups feared that if the justices ruled in favor of California’s more rigid law, other states that are near oil rigs along the Gulf Coast—where the majority of activity in the industry resides—could pass similar wage and hour laws.

Employment attorneys say the ruling, while narrow and specific to the offshore drilling industry, signals the Supreme Court’s reluctance to extend a state law beyond its borders. …

Narrow Ruling

The ruling is narrow, but the outcome may be transferable beyond the universe of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, said Stuart Gerson, Epstein Becker & Green attorney. He said the case demonstrates that the high court will likely continue to be interested in the supremacy clause and federal preemption issues.

He said it will be interesting to watch how states play a role as the Trump administration pushes a deregulatory environment.

“This decision doesn’t affect a lot of people immediately or directly,” Gerson said. “The court will look very carefully at what it is that Congress has done and has a presumption that if Congress occupies a field, there is little room for the state to act if there are no gaps left by Congress in that field.”


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