One of the more closely watched and hotly debated topics at both the state and federal level over the course of the last few years has been the adequacy of wage and hour laws.
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.
An Oakland Raiders cheerleader just filed a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of 40 current and former Raiderettes. She claims the Raiderettes’ contract violates both state and federal wage and hour laws -- and cheerleaders’ contracts with other NFL teams probably do, as well. She invites other dancers with similar problems to join. Twenty-six of the NFL’s 32 teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, have cheerleaders.
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.
Across the arc of American history, our nation’s labor and employment laws have trended toward greater protection for workers from wage and hour abuse, but there have been setbacks. For example, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt 75 years ago, it had been watered down substantially from its original plan, which would have set a maximum workweek of 35 to 40 hours, with a minimum wage of $12 to $15 a week. Instead, the law as passed st the maximum workweek at 44 hours and the minimum wage at $11 a week. Moreover, it only applied to about 20 percent of the labor force.
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.
If you work as a contractor, you may believe you have little or no protection from U.S. employment law. While that is largely untrue -- contractors have legal rights under the minimum wage, anti-discrimination and many other laws -- the fact is, many of the protections and benefits of employment law are reserved for employees.
You know those little tip jars often found on the counter at coffee shops like Starbucks? You've probably assumed that any tips are divided among the workers at the end of the shift. Apparently, that isn't quite true.
Florida-based Darden Restaurants Inc., which operates the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse the Capital Grille and other full-service chain restaurants, has been accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. And, according to a federal lawsuit brought by current and former food servers, the company's illegal practices may affect wait staff nationwide.