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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? (part 1 of 4)

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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Three Tips for Effective Coaching

The performance of your company is directly tied to the performance of your employees, so one of the best ways to develop your company is to develop the people who work for you. While you can motivate your employees by rewarding success and disciplining failure, these incentives and disincentives will only get you so far. If your employees only perform well to get a reward or avoid discipline, they’re not truly invested in your company’s success. A great way to get employees invested is to invest in them. And one way you can do that is through coaching. Coaching is a management style that develops employees by assessing, improving, and tracking their knowledge, skills, and abili

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DOL Adopts New Unpaid Intern Test

Last Friday 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”

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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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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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Reminder: OSHA 300A Forms Must Be Posted by February 1

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that all employers with more than 10 employees—except those in exempt low-risk industries—maintain a record of work-related injuries and illnesses. Those who are required to maintain these records should use OSHA’s Form 300: Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses or an equivalent state-specific form. Those same employers must then post OSHA’s Form 300A: Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses each year between February 1 and April 30. As its name implies, Form 300A summarizes (and sanitizes) the information logged on Form 300. OSHA Form 300A must be certified by a company executive and posted in a cons

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How to Reduce Absenteeism

Taking time away from work is good for the health and morale of employees. When they can rest during an illness, recuperate after an injury, or tend to affairs in their personal lives, they’re better able to focus at work and engage in the tasks at hand. Too many absences, however, can be costly for employers and frustrating for other employees who have to pick up the slack. A lot of absences may be sign of absenteeism, which occurs when employees skip work for no good reason. You may not be able to prevent the illnesses, injuries, or family emergencies that keep employees from coming to work, but you can and should do something about absenteeism. Fortunately, there are a few steps you

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