U.S. Department of Labor Announces Increased Salary Requirement for Overtime Exemptions


Last year we informed you of the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposal to amend the white-collar overtime exemption to increase the salary threshold necessary to be considered exempt from the FLSA overtime laws. On May 23, 2016, the DOL announced the long-awaited revision to its regulations, which more than doubles the minimum salary requirement to qualify for the overtime exemption. This change will have significant implications for employers across the country.

According to statistics published by the DOL, the amended regulations will require employers to pay overtime to as many as 4 million additional employees unless their salary is increased to the new minimum threshold. The new regulations take effect December 1, 2016, and raise the requirement for exempt status from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $47,476 ($913 per week).

It is important to remember that the salary requirement under the FLSA will be adjusted for inflation every three years, so this is not a one-time increase. That said, the so-called “duties test” (meaning the primary duties the employee performs must fall into the administrative, professional or executive classification) was not changed under the amended regulations.

Now would be an excellent time for your company to schedule online wage and hour training for your managers. Given the large number of employees who now may be subject to overtime compensation (or a healthy raise), it is important to review all of the wage and hour laws that are the subject of significant litigation throughout the country.

The DOL changes also present special problems for California employers, as the federal salary threshold is actually higher than that currently required under state law (twice the minimum wage). This means that a significant number of employees in California will need salary review to see if they still qualify for overtime exemptions. Further, California’s recently enacted staggered minimum wage increases will place the California salary threshold higher than the federal standard by 2019, causing continued confusion for employers.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid costly incidents associated with wage and hour litigation. Syntrio’s cost-effective wage and hour training courses are designed with the decision-making management employee in mind. Therefore, the examples used within are real-life scenarios that are easy to comprehend, even when the user does not have a technical background in wage and hour law. 

Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our wage and hour courses for employees and management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance that impact your company.

California Updates Anti-Discrimination Regulations for 2016

California Updates Anti-Discrimination Regulations


California has long been known as the most employee-friendly state when it comes to employment laws and regulations. Indeed, California’s bi-annual sex harassment training law and its anti-discrimination laws are some of the most complex in the entire nation. California has revised its Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) regulations to include a host of new rules, all of which are in an effort to keep up with statutory changes in the past several years. Many of the changes modify existing requirements, but there are important new twists. The new rules go into effect on April 1, 2016.

The following paragraphs are a summary of the new rules. All employers with 5 or more employees should study the rules themselves to ensure effective implementation.

Among the provisions of the rules include the following:

  • The new regulations provide precise definitions of the following terms: gender expression, gender identity, sex stereotype, and transgender.

  • California has a new requirement that employers have a delineated policy to combat discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
  • Companies must disseminate that policy to the entire workforce.
  • The regulations extend national-origin protections to undocumented immigrants who hold special “AB 60” drivers’ licenses.

The new regulations also provide guidance on what must be contained in the required policies targeted at preventing discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Specifically, the regulations state that the policy should:

  • State that the employer will not take remedial action if any wrongdoing is detected.

  • State that the employer will not retaliate against an employee for making a complaint or participating in an investigation.
  • Instruct supervisors to report all complaints to a company representative.
  • List all protected groups under the Fair Employment & Housing Act.
  • Specify that supervisors, co-workers and third parties are prohibited from engaging in unlawful behavior under the FEHA.
  • Explain the reporting procedure under the policy.
  • State that all complaints will be followed by a fair and thorough investigation.

In addition to posting these new requirements in a public area at the workplace, an effective means of conveying these rules is implementing an online anti-discrimination training program that explains the policies and procedures in-depth so that your employees understand their obligations under the law. The FEHA is a complicated law that provides many protections to employees that are not available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition to the mandatory California sex harassment training requirement that many companies in the state are required to follow, it is important for companies of all sizes to engage in active training programs to not only aid in compliance with these new regulations but to improve company culture as a whole.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes associated with employment law violations. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our California employment discrimination courses for employees and management and remember to follow on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance issues that  impact your company! 

Individual Liability for California Managers in Wage & Hour Cases Now a Reality


In a bit of news that no employer will be glad to hear, California has further complicated its wage and hour law to include individual liability for managers, officers, and directors who violate California wage and hour provisions. Throughout its legislative history, California has long been known as the most employee-friendly state when it comes to wage and hour law. That said, the state has until now been reluctant to impose liability on managers and other high level employees.

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law an amendment to Labor Code section 558.1, which effectively states that owners, directors, officers, or managing agents of the employer may be held liable as the employer for wage and hour violations. In short, this means that plaintiffs’ attorneys in California will now be able to seek damages from the individual actors in minimum wage, overtime, and meal and rest break cases in addition to the company itself. This shift in policy presents a wide variety of challenges in litigating these matters and will cause the costs of wage and hour litigation to rise even further.

Syntrio Has Developed Cost-Effective California Wage and Hour Training

The best means of avoiding a wage and hour lawsuit is to train your managers on effective compliance with California wage and hour law. Syntrio has recently revamped its online training courses to include the latest changes in California law. Moreover, the courses use real-life scenarios to illustrate the dangers of failing to comply. Indeed, Syntrio’s wage and hour programs go into detail on the nuances of California’s complicated wage and hour laws, and are broken up into distinct sections that highlight where mistakes most frequently occur.

Wage and hour lawsuits are some of the most frequently litigated employment matters in the state of California. By failing to prepare your managers for the challenges they are likely to face from Plaintiffs’ attorneys and employees, you are putting your high-level employees at a significant disadvantage. Now that those employees can be held personally liable for wage and hour violations, arming them with education is a protection they deserve. With the recent changes in the law, now is the perfect time to review your policies and procedures and schedule training for your managers, officers, and directors that will keep them from making mistakes that could leave them personally lighter in the wallet.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes (and litigation) that are associated with complicated areas of employment law. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our wage and hour courses for management and remember to follow on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance issues that may impact your business!


Large California Grocery Chain Sued for Unpaid Overtime

Wage and Hout Training


On September 24, 2015, a group of California employees filed a wage and hour lawsuit against grocery giant Vons in Santa Barbara County. The lawsuit seeks $4 million in damages and alleges that the grocery chain did not pay required overtime compensation. The suit also claims Vons required its employees to work through meal periods over a four-year period and alleges that Vons destroyed and falsified time records to eliminate overtime hours and show that employees had taken their meal breaks when they allegedly had not.

Lawsuit Yet Another Example of California Employers in Hot Water

California wage and hour law is the most complicated in the country. If you or your company have employees working in that state it is imperative that you seek advice and training to ensure that your managers and payroll administrators understand the laws and their nuances and are doing everything they can to comply with California’s complex overtime, meal and rest, and recordkeeping requirements (among others).

As the Vons lawsuit shows, repeated violations over a period of time can go unnoticed and can add up to a significant amount of damages. Worse yet, California law allows for plaintiffs’ attorneys to recover fees on behalf of their clients in the event they successfully pursue a claim. Therefore, in addition to the potential $4 million in damages Vons could be liable for if they are found to have violated California law, there could be hundreds of thousands of dollars more in attorneys fees that the company may have to pay. Don’t let this happen to your business.

Syntrio Has Developed Cost-Effective Training Programs for Your Business

Syntrio has recently released two new courses specifically designed to aid California managers and supervisors in complying with California Wage and Hour law. The first, “Wage and Hour Basics for California Managers” is designed for California managers who supervise employees subject to California state minimum wage, overtime, and meal and rest break laws. The shorter second course is entitled, “Meal and Rest Break Training” and goes into greater detail about the nuances of this complicated area of California law that is one of the bases of the lawsuit discussed above. We recommend your managers and supervisors participate in both courses to have the fundamentals necessary to comply with the law.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes (and associate litigation) that are associated with complicated areas of employment law. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our wage and hour courses for management and remember to follow on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance issues that may impact your business!


Fight Back Against Workplace Bullying: It May Soon Be a Legal Obligation

You may be unaware that California has recently enacted a law entitled Assembly Bill 2053, requiring employers with 50 or more employees to train their supervisors on workplace bullying. Although this law does not create an outright cause of action for employees who have been the victims of an office bully, it is a step in that direction. As is often the trend, other states have picked up on California’s aggressive stance toward bullying and have begun considering similar legislation to curb the all too common practice of abusive conduct by supervisors and co-workers.

For many years, employers have educated themselves (and their employees) about the various harassment and discrimination laws at both the state and federal levels. However, only recently have studies shown that office bullying and abusive conduct are occurring at extremely high levels. That said, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is silent with respect to abusive managerial tactics and office bullying, and ignores the fact that this sort of behavior can be as damaging (if not more damaging) than the types of conduct the law prohibits (such as race and sex discrimination and harassment).

Bullying Creates a High Cost

You may be wondering what impact office bullying has on your workplace, especially given that it is likely not against the law at this time. Therefore, you may also be wondering why it might be worth the time and expense to conduct training courses to prevent this type of conduct when such courses may not be required by your state. The simple answer is 30-35% of United States employees report that they have been victims or witnesses of abusive workplace conduct. This amounts to millions of employees who may lose productivity or even seek to change jobs to avoid a bully that creates a hostile environment. This type of turnover is costly to a business. Therefore, conducting proactive training to avoid this type of conduct can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

What Types of Conduct Can be Considered Abusive?

California’s new law spells out a specific definition of abusive workplace conduct, but generally speaking any sorts of swear words and raised voices; belittling of employees; physical actions such as thrown paper; offensive or humiliating conduct; or attempts at sabotage of work (among other things) should be considered particularly risky behavior if they occur frequently at your office.

Syntrio’s Preventing Workplace Bullying training courses are specifically tailored to meet the needs of your business or industry, and cost-effectively train your managers and employees on what abusive conduct and bullying is, and how to spot and eliminate it before there is a problem. Syntrio’s workplace harassment training courses also cover workplace bullying

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses of all sizes eliminate abusive conduct and workplace bullying across the board, and therefore provides harassment in the workplace courses that are cognizant of the value of time to modern businesses.  Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about ourHR compliance courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your company!