What’s Up with WFH and Overtime?

Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, “working from home” or “WFH” is part of our everyday language. The virus seemed to come out of nowhere and forced many employers to rush into remote working arrangements. Because of this, many did not have time to prepare or to consider the legal ramifications of WFH.

With the transition to a remote workforce, the traditional 9-5 workday seems to have morphed into a 24-7 working arrangement. Personal and work life has blurred as the phone, computer and other devices constantly ping workers at all hours, with many employers expecting instantaneous responses. Remote employees, most of whom are just grateful to still be employed during the recession, often feel compelled to be available to their employers around the clock. Not surprisingly then, remote employees often report working longer hours than ever before as work blends into home life. Even more often, these employees are not paid for all hours worked, as their employers either (1) fail to properly track their time, (2) believe that the ”luxury” of working from home allows them to contact their employees at any time, but not pay for that time, or (3) simply do not understand that responding to an employer’s communications – whether via email, text, video chat, IM, or any other electronic communication platform – constitutes “work” within the meaning of the law.

To ensure they are paid all time worked, employees should record all hours on the employer’s timekeeping system. If the employer does not have a timekeeping system, or if the system does not permit an employee to enter time outside of regularly scheduled hours, the employee should then keep a record of all time worked outside of regularly scheduled hours and report that time to their employer at the end of the work week.

If your employer is refusing to pay you for all time worked – including time spent responding to communications outside of your regular shift or after normal business hours – or for any other questions regarding pay or overtime, don’t hesitate to contact Shavitz Law Group at (561) 447-8888 or visit us at www.shavitzlaw.com for a free, no obligation review of your circumstances and consultation regarding your rights.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY. Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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President-Elect Biden’s Pro-Worker Stance

On November 7, 2020, Joe Biden surpassed the 270 electoral votes necessary to become the 46th president of the United States. Before serving as Vice President in the Obama Administration, Biden also served for decades in the United States Senate, where he advanced the cause of workers. As president, Biden plans to make it easier for all workers to unionize and specifically supports educators being able to bargain for better pay and benefits, in addition to having a voice in decisions that affect their students. Biden also supports legislation raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. Furthermore, Biden will seek to ban forcing employees to give up their rights to bring class action class in court by forcing them into arbitrations where they can only bring individual actions. He also has promised to have various departments within his administration – including the Department of Labor and the Justice Department – to aggressively pursue employers who violate federal employment laws.

While Biden’s ability to enact some of these pro-employee legal changes depends on Congress, there are various areas where he can implement substantive pro-worker changes through executive action. Every candidate being considered for the Secretary of Labor has years of advocacy on behalf of workers — so, workers can be assured that no matter who assumes the role of Secretary of Labor, there will be robust enforcement of existing worker-protection statutes in a Biden Administration.

Shavitz Law Group is here to help. If you have questions about whether your employer is violating federal requirements, or if you have any other employment concerns, please do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation at (800) 616-4000.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.
Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY. Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.
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Worker Justice from the Newest Supreme Court Justice?

Amy Coney Barrett just assumed her position as an associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Prior to becoming the ninth seat on the Supreme Court, Justice Barrett served as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Many are concerned that if her tenure on the Seventh Circuit is indicative of how she might rule on employment issues, American workers’ rights may be in jeopardy. For example, Justice Barrett ruled that being called the “N” word did not violate Title VII’s prohibition on hostile work environments. In fact, Justice Barrett sided with employers and corporations over 75% of the time as a judge on the Seventh Circuit.

What does this mean for workers? For one thing, it is important to remember that only a miniscule percentage of cases make it to the Supreme Court. And while lower courts are bound by Supreme Court precedent, those courts do interpret those decisions based upon the facts in an individual case. Therefore, workers should not be discouraged. SLG handles all manner of employment cases, including violations related to overtime and other wage issues; equal pay discrimination; discrimination based upon race, age, and disability; and ERISA.

If you believe your rights as a worker have been violated, Shavitz Law Group is here to help. Please contact us at slg@shavitzlaw.com or 800-616-4000 to discuss whether you have a case.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY. Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.
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Equal Pay for Equal Work: Carrying On Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy

Ruth Bader Ginsburg served on the United State Supreme Court as an Associate Justice for 27 years, and thirteen years before on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Even before her years as a judge, Ginsburg was a trailblazing advocate for equal rights for women.

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a young lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project. Ginsburg oversaw hundreds of gender discrimination cases. Many of these cases championed women’s financial rights, including the right to equal pay. The victories of the Ginsburg-led Women’s Rights Project led to significant advances in financial equality for women.

Notwithstanding these achievements, there is still work to be done. Issues like the gender wage gap still persist. The average woman in the U.S. earned 81.6 cents to every dollar men earned in 2018, and that gap widens for women of color. Congress enacted the Equal Pay Act (EPA), part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to ensure that women are paid the same money for the same work. Yet discrepancies still persist.

Upon Ginsburg’s passing, SLG is committed to carrying the torch forward. Every American worker – indeed, every person in this country — has benefitted from Justice Ginsburg’s work to ensure equality for all.

If you believe that you – or a woman you know – is being paid less money for the same work performed by a male co-worker, contact The Shavitz Law Group about your equal rights, at slg@shavitzlaw.com or at 800-616-4000. We would be happy to assist you in a free consultation to discuss your concerns.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY. Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.
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Are You Being Paid for Mandatory Temperature Screening?

In the age of COVID, many employers require employees to undergo a mandatory temperature check each day. These temperature checks typically occur either just inside – or even outside – the business premises to protect the health of everyone involved. Depending on the nature of the business, the time of day, and many other factors, these mandatory temperature checks can take upwards of 10 to 15 minutes. Because the temperature checks occur before employees clock in, they are unpaid for this time. This time adds up over the course of a week.

Where employers require temperature checks for their own benefit – that is, maintaining a healthy workforce and workplace – the time spent waiting for and having the temperature screening may be compensable for all employees, regardless of whether the employees’ health is directly related to their job (as in the case of a health care worker). These temperature checks are akin to time spent putting on special protective gear, which courts have found to be compensable, because temperature screenings help to protect the workplace from a highly contagious and dangerous disease. While no court has directly ruled on the compensability of temperature screenings yet, it is likely workers could be paid for the time spent waiting for and having daily temperature checks given the dangers of the pandemic and the necessity of keeping people and businesses virus-free.

If you have any questions regarding your pay and/or your unpaid time spent for screening, contact Shavitz Law Group at (561) 447- 8888 or visit us at www.shavitzlaw.com for a free, no obligation review of your circumstances and consultation regarding your rights.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY. Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.
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Floridians to Decide Amendment 2/Minimum Wage

A YES Vote on Amendment 2 Raises the Florida Minimum Wage to $15/Hour.

Currently, Florida’s minimum wage is $8.56 per hour. Amendment 2 on the November ballot would incrementally raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. Currently, the minimum wage amounts to $17,804 annually, which is far below the poverty level. This wage is not livable, nor does it align with the high cost of living in many parts of the state.

A national study by the Congressional Budget Office estimated that gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 across the country would lift more than 17 million people out of poverty. Those concerned with the affect the raise would have on businesses should know that economists have found that employees reinvest the extra wages into the local economy, by spending more on food, gas, and entertainment – including eating out in restaurants.

One poll indicates that 60 percent of Floridians support Amendment 2. To pass, the law requires 60 percent of Floridians to approve Amendment 2, so your vote counts more than ever. Please voice your support in this election by voting “YES” on Amendment 2 this November.

Shavitz Law Group is here to help. If you have any employment questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation at (800) 616-4000.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY. Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Champion of American Workers has died at the age of 87

Equality For All

Equality For AllJustice Ruth Bader Ginsburg championed the rights of everyone who struggled for equality – women, yes, as well as minorities, the marginalized, and workers. As a young lawyer, Ginsburg herself was discriminated in the workplace. Although she graduated at the top of her law school class at Columbia, employers repeatedly rejected her. As Ginsburg later mused, “Not a law firm in the entire city of New York would employ me…. I struck out on three grounds: I was Jewish, a woman and a mother.”

This experience let to Ginsburg’s her early work with the ACLU. In a landmark case, Ginsburg successfully argued to the Supreme Court ruling that discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender is unconstitutional — a revolutionary concept at the time. After assuming the bench, both her opinions and her dissents shaped the lives of American workers in fundamental ways. Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. led Congress to pass of one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in the past twenty years. As she read her dissent in Ledbetter from the bench, Justice Ginsburg called on Congress to act. Her passionate call for justice resulted in the passage of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to allow more time for workers who have faced pay discrimination to file complaints. The Ledbetter case demonstrates that even Justice Ginsburg’s dissents had profound implications for American workers.

Every American worker – indeed, every person in this country — has benefitted from Justice Ginsburg’s work to ensure equality for all.

If you want to learn about your equal rights, please contact The Shavitz Law Group at slg@shavitzlaw.com or at 800-616-4000. We would be happy to assist you in a free consultation to discuss your concerns.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY. Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.
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Is Your Employer Driving Your Hourly Rate Below Minimum Wage?

In the era of COVID-19, many employers have hired additional drivers to better meet their customers’ needs by offering delivery services.  Often, employers require these employees to drive their own vehicles.

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently issued an Opinion Letter addressing how employers may reimburse workers for their out-of-pocket expenses in a way that complies with the federal minimum wage law.  The DOL’s Opinion Letter directly impacts those who drive as part of their duties, whether for deliveries or some other purpose.

Employees’ “tools of the trade”, including their use of a personal vehicle, are materials that primarily benefit employers, because they are necessary for a worker to perform their duties.  Employers violate the federal minimum wage laws if employees’ wages, minus expenses, are less than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.  Thus, employers must  reimburse workers for their “tools of the trade” expenses – including mileage – so that the employees’ effective hourly rate is not less than $7.25.  Employers can rely on approximations of employees’ expenses, but those estimates must be reasonable.  The DOL also indicated that an employer would be safe in using the IRS business standard mileage rate.

Ultimately, workers using their own vehicles for the benefit of their employers (like delivery drivers) are entitled to reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, like mileage.  If your employer is not reimbursing you for your mileage, calculate whether those expenses bring your hourly rate under $7.25.  And if your employer is reimbursing your mileage using an alternative method to the IRS business standard mileage rate, you should double-check if your effective hourly rate falls below minimum wage.

Shavitz Law Group is here to help. If you have questions about whether your employer is violating federal requirements, or if you have any other employment concerns, please do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation at (800) 616-4000.

 

 YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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A Major Victory for California Uber and Lyft Drivers

A California state judge has ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify their workers from independent contractors to employees.  This would require the companies to provide workers with benefits and better working conditions. Uber and Lyft would be responsible for paying drivers minimum wage, overtime compensation, paid rest periods, and reimbursements for the cost of driving for the companies, including personal vehicle mileage. Currently, drivers are classified as independent contractors and receive none of these benefits

Per the judge’s ruling, Uber and Lyft have refused to comply with a California law passed last year that was supposed to make it harder for companies in the state to hire workers as independent contractors. The purpose of the legislation was to give gig economy workers such as drivers the same benefits as employees.

While both Uber and Lyft have indicated they will appeal the decision, the ruling could have significant consequences for gig economy workers if it survives the appeals process. The order could have broad implications not only for ride-hailing but also the tech industry, which relies on gig workers to provide massive labor forces without providing them the traditional benefits of employment.  In addition, while the decision is based upon California law, other states may follow.  Given California’s market share, the ruling will undoubtedly have an impact on the industry nationwide, to ensure consistency in the treatment of ride-hailing drivers, as well as other gig workers. 

If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor – whether you are a driver, gig worker, or perform other work – please contact the Shavitz Law Group, P.A. at slg@shavitzlaw.com or 800-616-4000.  to ensure your rights are being protected.

 

 YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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Is Your 401k Shrinking Based Upon the Stock Market or High Fees?

In these uncertain economic times, workers have witnessed wild gyrations in their 401k accounts. A downturn in your 401k may be the result of the overall stock market decline, but something else also may be at play.

Employers who offer 401k plans use plan fiduciaries – trusted financial experts – to invest employee funds. However, these experts sometimes fail in their fiduciary duty, in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

ERISA requires the 401k plan fiduciaries to objectively and adequately review the plan’s investment portfolio with due care to ensure that each investment option was prudent in terms of cost, among other factors. In other words: Your employer needs to pick financial experts to manage the 401k plan who are looking out for the investor-employees’ best interests. ERISA violations may include the failure of the plan manager to minimize costs to the employee-investors by investing in more expensive funds when less expensive, comparable plans offering similar returns are available.

In these difficult economic times, finding out that you are paying for a “Cadillac” plan when a “Toyota” will provide comparable risks and returns at significantly less cost, is another hit to your wallet. Take a moment to review those 401k statements, with particular attention to the fees and costs. If you have questions, contact The Shavitz Law Group. You can call us at 800-616-4800, and we would be happy to assist you in a free consultation to discuss your employment concerns

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY. Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.
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