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Regulatory Wrap-Up: More action on wages and paid leave



Labor Department: The Labor Department appealed a federal court decision to block the Obama Administration's overtime rule which was finalized in May 2016. The Trump Administration has indicated it plans to rewrite the suspended rule and the filing of this appeal is an effort to ensure that the Labor Secretary retains the authority to develop a new overtime rule.

Illinois: Lawmakers announced they do not have the votes to override the governor’s veto of the $15/hr minimum wage bill that was considered earlier this session. Supporters indicated they may pursue compromise legislation in the future but did not share specifics at this stage.

Facebook: The social media company is facing a class-action lawsuit in federal court alleging purposeful misclassification of employees in an attempt to avoid paying overtime.

Paid Leave

U.S. House: House Republicans introduced legislation that would offer employers with qualifying programs a safe harbor from the requirements of state and local paid leave mandates. The proposal is modeled off discussion drafts brought forward by business groups such as the Society of Human Resource Management and the HR Policy Association. The proposal would apply to full and part time workers.

EEOC: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued beauty product manufacturer Estee Lauder for offering different levels of family leave benefits based on gender. At issue in the case is a discrepancy in benefits between maternity and paternity policies.

Wage Theft

Michigan: Legislation to increase penalties and enforcement for wage theft will be introduced in the coming weeks. Under the language, employees would qualify for up to three times the amount found to be owed, which is up from double under current law. The bill is unlikely to advance in the Republican-controlled legislature, however, the conversation may present reputation challenges for some employers.

West Chester County, N.Y.: A bill to strengthen enforcement of wage theft in home improvement industries with a focus on day laborers was introduced last week.

Smokey Bones: A judge approved a class action lawsuit, consisting of servers and bartenders from several states, alleging that the restaurant chain repeatedly violated the FLSA tip credit provision by requiring wait staff to perform tasks not related to their tipped work, or “side work,” among other issues.

Labor Policy

Federal: National Democrats announced an expansion of their “better deal” platform designed to aid union organizing efforts. It includes a federal ban on right-to-work laws. While the platform has little chance to advance in the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress, it demonstrates the Democrat’s allegiance to the labor community, despite many union households supporting President Trump’s populist message.

Illinois: The house failed to garner the necessary votes to override a gubernatorial veto of legislation that would have banned localities from implementing right-to-work legislation. Localities, for the time being, will be able to enact right-to-work measures that would prevent unions from mandating dues. The override vote lost by a single vote and the effort could resurface following negotiations by the house speaker.

New York: Every two decades, a constitutional convention is automatically proposed on the statewide ballot to explore proposed changes to the state’s constitution. A successful convention could alter the basic rules of government for the state which unions currently view as very favorable. As a result, labor leaders in the state are leading efforts to defeat a pending measure that will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot. The measure is likely to fail regardless.


U.S. House: Republican leaders unveiled their long-awaited tax reform legislation, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The bill mostly follows the blueprint released earlier this year, adding additional details. Generally the legislation cuts the corporate tax rate to 20 percent as well as applies a 25 percent tax rate for net income distributed by a passthrough entity. Of note to operators, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) would be repealed in 2018 under the legislation as written. The House Ways and Means Committee will take up the bill on Nov. 6.


Commerce Department: The Commerce Department issued final antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of Canadian lumber. The duties would only go into effect if the U.S. International Trade Commission pending a final determination that U.S. producers are injured by Canadian Imports. That decision is expected in mid to late Dec. The dispute could have ramifications in the ongoing NAFTA negotiations between the two countries and Mexico.


U.S. House: The House Financial Services Committee is drafting data breach notification legislation in the wake of the Equifax breach. Attempts at a federal breach notification bill, which would preempt dozens of state level laws, have failed to gain enough support in previous Congresses. The draft currently under review is based on negotiated language between the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Financial Services Roundtable, indicating the potential for wider support than past versions.

FTC: A wide range of business interests, including retail representatives, submitted public comments urging the Federal Trade Commission to update its enforcem
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