Earlier this month, the Department of Labor issued an opinion letter ending the “80/20 rule” for whether employers could take a tip credit on employees who performed both tipped and non-tipped work. (FLSA2018-27.) The rule prohibited employers from taking a tip credit on the minimum wage if the employee’s non-tipped work consumed more than 20 percent of the employee’s work. In the opinion letter, the DOL stated that it would not “place a limitation on the amount of duties related to a tip-producing occupation that may be performed, so long as they are performed contemporaneously with direct customer-service duties and all other requirements of the [Fair Labor Standards] Act are met.”

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On September 25, 2018, the Ninth Circuit granted Uber’s motion to compel arbitration and decertified a class of 160,000 drivers alleging violations of California state law, including misclassification of the drivers as independent contractors. The decision does not come as a great surprise given the court’s 2016 ruling compelling arbitration in a related case, but it serves as a reminder to companies everywhere to re-examine their independent contractor agreements.

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Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, No. 16-285 that employers could lawfully require employees to waive their rights to pursue employment-related class actions through arbitration agreements providing for individualized proceedings. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that such waivers do not violate the National Labor Relations Act.

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On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court substantially narrowed the class of individuals who qualify as independent contractors under California wage-hour law and paved the way for a new wave of class actions. In Dynamex Operations West, Inc., the Court adopted the restrictive “ABC test” used in other jurisdictions for determining when a worker qualifies as an independent contractor under California’s Industrial Wage Orders.

Under that test, the court presumes‌ all workers qualify as employees. A hiring entity can prove that the worker qualifies as an independent contractor only if it can show that the worker:

A) is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and

B) performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and

C) is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.


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Yesterday the Second Circuit cast doubt on whether an arbitrator can certify a class that includes absent class members.  The court remanded for the district court to decide “whether the arbitrator exceeded her authority in certifying a class that contained absent class members who have not opted in.”  Jock v. Sterling Jewelers, Inc., No. 15-3947-cv (2d Cir. July 24, 2017).  The case poses potentially big implications for class arbitration’s ability to resolve cases with finality.

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