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Waitress Fired for Negative Comments Posted on Facebook
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With the explosive popularity of social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter, an ever-expanding segment of the population is taking advantage of the opportunity to connect with old friends and family members by broadcasting pictures and details of their daily lives. “Blogs” — basically a personal website that anyone can easily develop and publish on the internet — make it possible to publish a commentary, complete with pictures and videos, on any subject at all.

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Policy Banning Overtime Work Does Not Provide Blanket Protection
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The Fair Labor Standards Act requires the vast majority of employers in this country to pay overtime (one and one-half times a non-exempt employee's regular hourly rate of compensation) for any hours worked over 40 in any given workweek. For example, an employee with a regular rate of $20 per hour would be entitled to overtime compensation at the rate of $30 per hour.

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Proposed Legislation Threatens New FLSA Penalties
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As reported by the Fisher & Phillips, LLC employment blog, both the Senate and House have proposed bills that would, if passed, provide for expansive changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act's (“FLSA”) civil monetary penalties.

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FLSA Amended to Mandate Breaks for Nursing Mothers
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Although it has largely flown under the radar, a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act recently signed by President Obama amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to require employers to provide rest breaks and space for employees who are nursing mothers to express breast milk. Employers need not pay for the break. No minimum break length is specified, but the break must be a “reasonable” length of time. Employers are required to provide places for the breaks that are “shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public,” and the location cannot be a bathroom.

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COBRA Subsidy Extended Through May 31, 2010
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In an earlier article posted on this blog, we reported that the COBRA subsidy benefit under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) (which provides a 65% subsidy for COBRA premiums) expired on March 31, 2010.

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Docking Time from An Exempt Employee’s Leave Bank — Is It Permissible?
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Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which governs the payment of minimum wage and overtime compensation, certain employees are considered “exempt” from the FLSA's overtime and minimum wage requirements. In order to qualify for “exempt” status, an employee must not only fit within one of the recognized exempt job classifications (such as executive, professional or administrative employees), but also must be paid on a salary basis.

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Department of Labor Reverses Course on Mortgage Loan Officers
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On March 24, 2010, the Department of Labor abruptly reversed its position on the exempt status of mortgage loan officers for purposes of eligibility for overtime compensation. Less than four years ago, the Department of Labor issued an Opinion Letter in which it determined that mortgage loan officers were exempt “administrative” employees and thus ineligible for overtime. In its new ruling, the Department of Labor concludes that mortgage loan officers are primarily responsible for the sale of mortgage loans, and therefore they are “production” workers and do not qualify for the administrative exemption.

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Withholding Compensation Can Be a Costly Proposition
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Our clients frequently seek advice concerning their rights when a departing employee owes money to the company. This issue presents itself in many different contexts — an employee refuses to return a laptop or other company property, has borrowed money from the company, received tuition assistance or costly training, received a payroll advance or leaves with a negative vacation balance. Withholding an employee's final paycheck may seem like an easy and painless solution, but the fact is, this is appropriate in Maryland only if the employee has provided prior written authorization for such a deduction.

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Proposed Legislation Targets Misclassification of Workers
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In an effort to remedy what is a pervasive problem across the United States, Congress has introduced “The Employee Misclassification Prevention Act” that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (the federal law governing overtime and minimum wage) by imposing record keeping and notice requirements designed to identify workers misclassified as “exempt” (i.e. not entitled to overtime and sometimes even minimum wage) or as independent contractors.

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Firm Bows to EEOC and Drops Mandatory Retirement Policy
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Bowing to pressure from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Kelley Drye & Warren, a large law firm with offices in New York, Washington and other cities in the U.S. and abroad, has dropped its mandatory retirement policy after facing pressure from an EEOC age discrimination suit, which alleged that the firm's retirement policy discriminated against older partners.

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