Posts Tagged ‘wage and hour suits’

“The Oxford Comma Case Proves We Need New Employment Laws, Not Better Grammar”

Suzanne Lucas (Evil HR Lady), in her column at Inc., uses the Oxford comma trucking-hours case as a jumping-off point for a wider discussion of how the current workplace regulatory regime needs overhaul, starting (but not ending) with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, a long-obsolete, coercively paternalistic, hard-to-understand mess:

Do I have a solution for all employment law? No. But where would I start? Well, with the assumption that employees over the age of 18 are adults and should be able to make their own contracts with employers. The key of my proposal would be that all job offers must be in writing (electronic or on paper) and that those terms could not be changed without advance notice. Let each person decide if a job offer makes him or her better or worse off.

She quotes my recent essay in the Cato Handbook for Policymakers (earlier on which).

Cato Handbook chapters on labor and employment, minimum wage law

My chapter on labor and employment law in the new 8th Edition Cato Handbook for Policymakers has caused a riffle or two of reaction, what with its proposals to repeal the NLRA, ADEA, FMLA, and a bunch of other laws (and that’s just the start, really). Robin Shea and Jon Hyman both respond with posts on the theme of what would happen if they ran the world, could push a button, or were monarch for a day. Their responses are good-tempered in both agreement and disagreement, which cannot be said for all the corresponding fun had once the list started circulating over on Twitter.

If my chapter doesn’t manage to flood the outrage zone completely for committed supporters of current law, the handbook’s chapter on the minimum wage can help provide further stimuli. It’s written by Thomas Firey.

Workplace roundup

  • Bad idea keeps spreading: “Philadelphia to Prohibit Asking Job Applicants About Their Prior Wage History” [Ford Harrison] Bill introduced in Maryland legislature [Danielle Gaines, Frederick News-Post on HB 398]
  • “New York (State and City) Imposes New Rules for Freelancers, State Contracts” [Daniel Schwartz]
  • On the minimum wage, lame reporting and motivated reasoning make war on Econ 101 [David Boaz and Ryan Bourne, Cato]
  • In final Obama days, EEOC finalizes rules toughening affirmative action requirements for federal agency employers regarding workers with disabilities [Joe Seiner, Workplace Prof]
  • Study: Indictments of union officials correlate with close election outcomes [Mitch Downey via Tyler Cowen]
  • “Ohio again tries to restore sanity to its bonkers employment discrimination law” [Jon Hyman]

Fighting the last war, on courts and executive power

Some on the left are still blasting judges as activist for standing up to Obama administration assertions of executive power in the regulatory sphere. That might prove shortsighted considering what’s on the agenda for the next four years, or so I argue in a piece in Sunday’s Providence Journal.

I take particular exception to a Bloomberg View column in which Noah Feldman, professor at Harvard Law, assails federal district judge Amos Mazzant III for enjoining the Department of Labor’s overtime rule for mid-level employees (earlier). In a gratuitous personal jab, Feldman raises the question of “whether Mazzant sees an opportunity for judicial advancement with this anti-regulatory judgment” in light of the election results, though he offers not a particle of evidence that the judge, an Obama appointee, is angling for higher appointment under the new administration.

The problems with the overtime rule were both substantive and procedural. As I mention in the piece, “more than 145 charitable nonprofits signed a letter begging the department to allow more than a 60-day public comment period. It refused.” That letter is here (via, see Aug. 5, 2015 entry). I also mention that a court recently struck down the Department of Labor’s very bad “persuader rule” that would have regulated management-side lawyers and consultants; more on that from Daniel Fisher, the ABA Journal, and earlier.

After pointing out that many of the rulings restraining the Obama administration have been written or joined by Democratic-appointed judges, I go on to say:

Judges rule all the time against the partisan side that appointed them.

And we’ll be glad of that when the Trump executive orders and regulations begin to hit, and Republican-appointed federal judges are asked to restrain a Republican White House, as they have often done in the past.

We should be celebrating an energetic judiciary that shows a watchful spirit against the encroachments of presidential power.

Witching hour for midnight regulations

There’s hope for stopping some of the regulations that the Obama administration began dropping in its last months before heading out the door, including the arguably worst of all, overtime for mid-level workers, now blocked by a federal judge in Texas [Kathy Hoekstra/Watchdog, McClatchy, Brittany Hunter/FEE; Virginia Postrel (“Not every workplace is, or aspires to be, the civil service. Not every worker longs to be on an assembly line.”)]

Workplace roundup

  • Following election results, lawprofs’ idea of persuading SCOTUS to kill state right-to-work laws is looking kinda dead [James Sherk, National Review] Sixth Circuit panel, reversing decision below, says law authorizes Kentucky counties to enact county-wide right-to-work statutes [Lexington Herald-Leader]
  • “Congressional Budget Office: Canceling overtime rule would boost family earnings” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner]
  • “Another Lesson from Bastiat: So-Called Employment Protection Legislation Is Bad News for Workers” [Daniel Mitchell, Cato citing NBER working paper by Gilbert Cette, Jimmy Lopez, and Jacques Mairesse]
  • Claim: lawmakers can “give” private employees paid parental leave and “there’s no added cost to employers” [Kate Ryan, WTOP citing views of Montgomery County, Maryland council member Tom Hucker]
  • All California janitors must now take training against sexual harassment, on rationale of preventing rape [L.A. Times]
  • A “complicated, highly regulated industry”: “Why Are Companies Abandoning On-Site Day Care?” [Rebecca Greenfield, Bloomberg] And: “Childcare costs skyrocket after minimum wage hike passes” [Alyssa Donovan, KXLY; Spokane, Wash.]

Suit: college football players employees under California law

A class action suit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cites California law, as well as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, to argue that college football players should be deemed employees subject to minimum wage and overtime law. I find it a stretch for reasons quoted in the report [Robert Teachout, SHRM]