Minnesota's wage and hour laws underwent a historic change last year when Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation authorizing substantial and periodic adjustments to the state's minimum wage.
Tomorrow will prove to be a historic day here in Minnesota as the minimum wage currently paid to hundreds of thousands of employees in a multitude of sectors is set to increase for the first time in almost ten years.
Minnesota lawmakers made headlines this past legislative session when they voted to raise the minimum wage in the state to $9.50 an hour by 2016, a move that has been since been lauded by both employees throughout the state and employment advocacy groups across the nation.
As with other areas of the law, the landscape of employment law is ever-changing. Court opinions and regulatory actions always impact the real life applications of employment protection laws, particularly as debates continue over issues like employment discrimination. One influential case from last year has cast a long shadow in that area – the nationwide employment discrimination case against Wal-Mart. That case was dismissed by the United States Supreme Court for lack of cohesiveness as a class action. The result was stricter standards for filing class action lawsuits for employment discrimination.
The question of whether workers are the legal employees of or independent contractors for the companies they work for is important to individuals, because independent contractors are often paid much less and are not entitled to benefits. It's also important to the government because businesses don't pay employment taxes for contractors.
Rick's Cabaret International, operator of the gentlemen’s club here in Minneapolis and others nationwide, could be facing substantial liability in a class-action lawsuit brought by more than 1,900 current and former exotic dancers at its Manhattan location. Other Rick’s Cabarets had better evaluate their own policies or they could find themselves facing lawsuits, as well.
A couple of years ago, unpaid interns in the movie and media industries began making noises about whether those internships were all they were promised to be. Everyone understands that it's hard to get jobs in these popular industries and that unpaid internships are a way to get your foot in the door. After some of those interns found themselves unemployed anyway, they began to suspect that the months -- and sometimes years -- they spent sacrificing for their careers had been some kind of trick.
According to research by a national, employer-side law firm, wage and hour litigation is still on the rise. As we discussed on this blog in August of last year, the number of Fair Labor Standards Act cases brought by workers reached a 20-year high as early as March 2012, and it appears they continue to skyrocket this year despite some indications they had reached their peak.
In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case called AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion that the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 supersedes state laws that had prohibited employment contracts forbidding class-action arbitration. The ruling allowed employers nationwide to force workers to sign contracts in which, not only did all disputes have to be settled through arbitration, but they couldn't bring those disputes forward as a class.
The U.S. Department of Labor wants to know just how much the average worker understands about the job classification system and his or her rights under that system. Unfortunately, according to the Labor Department, it is fairly common for employees' rights to be violated through the misclassification of workers as independent contractors versus employees.