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Challenges to wage and hour pay practices have been a defining litigation trend of the past decade. The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated this trend and added new complexities.
Wage and hour law is never static. Decades-old statutes and regulations are changing rapidly, plaintiffs’ lawyers are challenging accepted industry practices, and new technologies and business models redefine conventional notions of what constitutes “employment.” The abrupt shift to remote work caused by the pandemic brought additional questions and as employees return to the workplace, more questions will arise.
But ongoing change is not the only thing making wage and hour compliance challenging. Disparate laws across cities and counties make an already complex area even more complicated. Employers with operations in multiple states are often subject to different laws; even within a single state, the rules aren’t necessarily the same. And it’s not enough to simply adhere to the growing patchwork of laws. Local, state, and federal agencies interpret wage and hour laws/regulations through a patchwork of opinions that are many times unknown to employers. Businesses have to ensure they have access to accurate, up-to-date information, all under the ever-present threat of class, collective, and representative actions in both state and federal courts.
Our team is comprised of over 400 attorneys with wage and hour experience and a deep understanding of the complex landscape – from unpaid overtime to off-the-clock work, from employee misclassification to improper paycheck deductions, and covering every industry sector. With the sheer number of attorneys dedicated to wage and hour compliance, we have the opportunity to focus on many niche areas of the law. Need help designing an incentive compensation plan or determining if travel or commuting time is compensable for a remote worker? We have you covered.
Our attorneys not only have experience in the complexities of wage and hour law, but our national footprint means we can help employers with national issues. Wage and hour risk is no longer laser focused on California. States, counties, and cities across the country are rushing to pass new and complex wage and hour laws. A further subset of states deviate from federal standards in various ways, such as with the legislative choice not to follow the federal Portal-to-Portal Act.
COVID-19’s impact on wage and hour law will not be limited to the pandemic and its situation-specific scenarios, including the compensability of temperature checks and COVID testing or “home office” expense reimbursement. Instead, the pandemic will have long-lasting effects because it fundamentally altered how we think about where, when, and how employees work. Now, a “place of work” might be wherever a “wandering worker” is at that moment. Although the location itself might not change, how the employee performs work may alter how much employers must pay them to perform the work, for how long employees can work before receiving a break, meal period, day off, or overtime pay, how frequently employees must get paid for working (or how soon employers must pay them after they stop working), what forms of payment employers can use to pay wages, and even whether certain activities an employee performs qualify as “work.”
With increased employee mobility comes heightened legal challenges as employers face an always-expanding list of wage and hour laws at the federal, state, and local levels. Regardless of where an employee works, there will be wage and hour issues to consider—and a local Littler attorney can advise employers on options and solutions to ensure compliance.
Employers need to stay competitive amidst a changing business world and a changing legal environment. Littler can help your business achieve a delicate balance – managing risk and reducing your company’s liability through creative compliance solutions and effective wage and hour litigation defenses. Compliance is not a one-size fits all process. At Littler, we consider the nuances of every situation. We’re not afraid to step outside the box to suggest unconventional tactics when it’s the right decision for our clients. Sometimes doing things differently is the only way to do them better, and this principle inspires our proactive approach to all wage and hour issues. We leverage this know-how to power our imagination – offering innovative, tech-based tools that drive better outcomes, such as our Littler Xmpt®, Littler CaseSmart®, and ComplianceHR solutions.
“Our wage and hour team operates like the gears behind a watch. We collaborate, bringing together interlocking pieces – like our deep experience and local knowledge – to deliver the best results for our clients.”
– Stacey James, Wage & Hour Practice Co-Chair