2019 saw at least ten multimillion-dollar private class action settlements in the wage-and-hour law arena, along with a couple of multimillion-dollar government settlements. While several of the largest settlements involved California, wage-and-hour cases appear to be becoming more common across the nation. The total value of the top 10 wage-and-hour settlements last year was almost double the total value of the top 10 cases in 2018.
On Sunday, Jan. 12, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule on liability for franchisors and companies that outsource services to staffing agencies. The new rule, which replaces a policy put in place by the Obama administration, makes it harder for employees to prove that these companies are legally responsible when a franchisee or staffing firm fails to pay the minimum wage or overtime.
For the so-called "gig economy" to be profitable, it relies on one fundamental idea. The workers who perform the gigs are not employees of the company but independent contractors.
Some working people prefer the flexibility that comes with being an independent contractor. Many more people, however, prefer the stability that comes with being an employee. Sometimes employers wrongly classify employees as independent contractors. This practice is known as misclassification. Misclassification violates the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and many state laws as well. More importantly, misclassification exploits working people.
Under federal and Maryland state laws, the minimum wage is currently set at $7.25. However, many people do not know that restaurant servers are often among those who can be paid a much lower wage, just $3.63 an hour, plus tips, here in Maryland.
In some industries, paying dues is the only way to really break into the business. In TV news, young reporters are often sent out to stand in the snow and talk about harsh weather so veteran journalists don't have to brave the cold. Some great writers have started their careers penning obituaries and in finance, junior consultants often take care of the more menial number-crunching tasks.