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FLSA Amended to Allow Tip Pooling if No Tip Credit is Taken

The rules around tip pooling have been mired in litigation since 2011, when regulations came into effect that forbid tip pooling between employees who customarily receive tips and those who do not. The recently passed federal budget bill has created clarity by amending the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and eliminating that rule for employers who do not take a tip credit. Since the rule has been eliminated entirely, court decisions interpreting it—such as Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, et al v. the U.S. Department of Labor—are irrelevant. The amended portion of the FLSA, while allowing for tip pooling between front and back of house employees if no tip credit is taken, cl

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HR Tip of the Month

Messy shared spaces, like bathrooms and break rooms, can be a serious sore spot in any office. Although we’d like to think that adults can be trusted to clean up their own messes, expectations and reality don’t always jive. You may have even found yourself posting notes on the walls with such over-the-top messages as, “Dirty dishes in the sink will be thrown away at the end of the day.” Although the nuclear option cannot always be avoided, ideally, we’d like to get ahead of these problems before they start (or at least before they blow up). Scheduled reminders—like a monthly email or posting on the fridge—can be a good way to communicate your expectations for everyone withou

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What Is Culture, Anyway?

When you belong to an organization, there’s usually a reason, right? Whether the organization is a business, club, or other group, something about it appealed to you, and you chose to associate yourself with it. You personally identified with it and felt like you would fit in, so you joined. Alternatively, you may have considered joining an organization, but decided against it because it didn’t feel like a good fit. Or you joined for a time, but then decided the place wasn’t for you. What creates this sense of belonging or not belonging to an organization is the organization’s culture. Every organization has a culture, and every culture has three components. These are the organiz

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Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning With year-end and first-of-the-year goals out of the way and a lull between holidays, there’s no better time to do some organizational spring cleaning. As many experts in tidying up and clearing clutter will tell you, a clean space with room for movement (both physical and psychological) will boost productivity and just make people feel better. You may be low on time, or you might feel ready to embrace some serious reorganization. Depending on the number of hours available, consider mixing and matching the following spring cleaning options, from quickest to most comprehensive. Do a walk-through of the workplace to ensure that pathways are clear and free of trippi

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Second Circuit Rules Sexual Orientation is Protected by Title VII

Yesterday the Second Circuit Court of Appeals became the second federal appellate court to rule that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the word sex includes sexual orientation. The first was the Seventh Circuit, which we reported on last April. The Second Circuit Court’s ruling yesterday affects only New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. All three of these states already prohibit discrimination in employment because of sexual orientation, so the ruling does not have a significant impact on employers there. It does, however, ensure that it is possible for employees who feel they have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation to sue under both state and federal l

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9th Circuit Rules Salary History Not an Acceptable Reason for Pay Discrepancies

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that salary history is not an acceptable reason for pay differences under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), even when used in conjunction with other factors. The EPA first became law in 1963 and prohibits the payment of different wages to men and women who do work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions. The new reading of the law impacts employers in Alaska, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona, but since Circuit Courts often rely on one another’s rulings, it’s very possible that the impact of this decision will spread. As written, the EPA allows for pay discrepancies

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News Brief

In February, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals became the second federal appellate court to rule that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the word sex includes sexual orientation. The first was the Seventh Circuit, which we reported on last April. The Second Circuit Court’s ruling affects only New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. All three of these states already prohibit discrimination in employment because of sexual orientation, so the ruling does not have a significant impact on employers there. It does, however, ensure that it is possible for employees who feel they have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation to sue under both state and federal law.

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Reminder: EEO-1 Is Due by March 31

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires certain employers to submit a report categorizing their employees by race or ethnicity, gender, and job category. This demographic survey, called the EEO-1, is due by March 31. All employers with 100 or more employees must file the report. Employers also must file if the organization is any of the following: Owned by or affiliated with another company and the entire enterprise has 100 or more employees A federal government prime contractor or first-tier subcontractor with 50 or more employees and with a contract or subcontract amounting to $50,000 or more Serving as a depository of government funds in any amount A f

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Putting At-Will Employment at Risk

"At-will” employment refers to a common-law rule that the employment relationship may be terminated by the employer or the employee at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, for any reason (allowed by law) or no reason at all. The intent behind this rule is to allow either the employee or employer to terminate the employment relationship without financial liability to the other. To minimize the risks of wrongful termination claims, every employer needs to understand at least three big exceptions to the employment at-will concept. Illegal Reasons for Termination At-will employment only extends to reasons that are permitted by law. The law allows for pretty much any re

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DOL Adopts New Unpaid Intern Test

The Department of Labor (DOL) adopted a new test for unpaid interns. Employers should use this test—called the primary beneficiary test—when determining if a worker can be properly classified as an unpaid intern or if they need to be classified as an employee and paid minimum wage and overtime. The test adopted by the DOL has already been in use in four federal appellate courts, most recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The DOL’s switch to the primary beneficiary test creates a nationwide standard. Balancing v. All-or-Nothing Previously, the DOL was using a six-question all-or-nothing test. An employer needed to be able to say “yes, the internship does that” to all six

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