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President Obama Set to Increase Overtime Eligibility for U.S. Salaried Workers

NEWS: FEB 18 President Obama Speaks at the Safeway Distribution Center

Overtime, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for hours worked beyond the 40-hour workweek. Non-exempt employees, or those who are paid for their hours worked, receive not only the minimum wage, but also overtime. The Act, however, provides that employees who receive salary-based pay are considered as “exempt” from receiving overtime. To be deemed as exempted, employees must meet the requirements set forth by the FLSA based on job description and wage eligibility.

Take for instance those who perform managerial work. These so-called “white collar workers” are exempted from receiving overtime pay if they earn more than $455.00 per week, or about $23,660.00 every year. It was in 2004 when then-President George W. Bush set the $455-per-week threshold, which, at that time, was the first increase since the ‘70s. But President Barack Obama, who has already called for the increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, is making a change to it.

Recent reports revealed that he signed an executive order last March 13 proposing overtime rule changes that would hope to create better opportunities for salaried workers, especially those working in managerial positions, to receive extra pay.

The exact threshold amount is yet to be made known, but President Obama is instructing the U.S. Department of Labor on this. While the call for a federal wage increase that he proposed during his last State of the Union Address would require Congressional approval, this directive isn’t, although this might take a lot of time before this will become effective. It is projected that this move would affect those who are not compensated enough but are still exempted from receiving overtime, such as managers of fast food chains and convenience stores.

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles labor lawyer has mentioned that the proposed changes to the federal overtime rules have already been made in the State of California. Recently, the state set its threshold to $640.00 per week, and it is expected to increase once the increase in minimum wage kicks in this July. As the $8.00 rate in California rises to $9.00-per-hour, employees who earn salaries and are earning more than $720.00 would be exempted from overtime payments.


Complying with the Meal, Rest Break Laws in California: How Employers Must Do It

Wage earners in the State of California are not only entitled to minimum wage and overtime payments for all their hours worked. They are likewise entitled to meal and rest breaks as dictated by the prevailing labor laws in the state. As such, it is every covered employer’s responsibility to comply with the requirements on meal and rest breaks. Failure to do so would mean penalties, as well as lawsuits filed against them by the aggrieved employees.

So what can employers do to avoid facing expensive lawsuits and incurring heavy sanctions for committing certain violations of labor laws  on meal periods and rest breaks? Here are some tips they should always be keeping in mind:

  • Employers must take a closer look at their work system, making sure that they don’t prevent employees from taking meal and rest breaks. There is a tendency for employers to not provide rest breaks if employees are subjected to a working environment wherein they are compelled to skip breaks. This can be remedied by giving employees the right schedules.
  • It is the employers’ responsibility to ensure that their workers are given the opportunity to take their meal break by ensuring that they time out and time in for it. Employers may sanction those who do not follow company policies; that way, they are able to do everything to have their workers take the meal breaks that are required by the law.
  • Employers must be able to uphold a certain system that would allow employees to report meal and/or rest period violations before anything could get out of hand.
  • Employers must have their managers, supervisors, and other key authority in their workplace undergo training with regard to the company policies, including meal and rest breaks.
  • They may include disclaimers on their employees’ time cards regarding meal and rest periods. By having the disclaimers in every time card signed by the employees, it easily means that they acknowledge the company policies and can be used against them if they fail to follow what is required of them.

Putting into practice these tips would leave California workers convinced that their employers are complying with the state’s labor laws. However, there are still companies who still disregard their workers with regard to their meal and rest breaks. As such, employees affected by this kind of illegal practice can seek the expertise of a Los Angeles labor lawyer. They may likewise file complaints with the appropriate California labor agency.

Disability Discrimination Based on Weight: How Can an Employee Prove It

Disciminated because of Obesity

Last year, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced that obesity, which is a medical condition characterized by excess body fat which may cause adverse effects to a person’s health, is considered a disease. This declaration created an impact on the debate on whether or not employees and applicants who are overweight are protected under anti-discrimination laws, particularly the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Prior to the announcement, obesity is only considered a disability if it is the result of an underlying health condition such as diabetes. Other than that, it was considered a lifestyle choice. But thanks to efforts of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the federal courts in expanding the legal definition of obesity, employees and applicants who have been discriminated or harassed in the workplace just because they are overweight can now establish that their condition is not because of an underlying condition. Obesity, as it is, should effectively limit a person to perform one or more major life activities such as walking, bending, standing, and the like.

That, together with the AMA’s announcement regarding obesity as a disease, made it more reasonable for aggrieved employees and applicants to file weight discrimination lawsuits against their employers. But how should one prove that he or she is discriminated against or harassed in employment just because of his or her weight? Here are some of the ways to do so:

  • The employee must prove that he or she has a disability. Like what was pointed out above, his or her obesity should limit or restrict him or her from performing one or more major life activities.
  • To make sure that the employee has the right to sue, his or her employer must be covered by the ADA, which means it employs at least 15 employees.
  • The employee must be regarded as disabled, or has had a history of obesity. Being called names related to obesity, even if the employee is not actually obese, can be grounds for a lawsuit. Also, someone who had lost weight is also covered by the laws if he or she is discriminated against because of his or her history of the disability.
  • A discrimination lawsuit can be filed against the employer if the aggrieved employee has direct evidence of such, which usually include comments about his or her weight. He or she can also do so if he or she was differently treated than his or her other non-obese co-workers under the same circumstances.
  • He or she was not given reasonable accommodations in order for him or her to perform the essential functions of his or her job. Unless the employer can show that doing so would be an undue hardship, the employee can still sue his or her employer.

The ADA is enforced by the EEOC; as such, the employee can file a charge of discrimination with the federal agency. It is usually required before one can sue. Meanwhile, if you have been subjected to weight discrimination or harassment in the workplace, you may consult with a Los Angeles discrimination attorney for you to know your rights.

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