A Maine dairy company recently learned how a comma can change everything. In O’Connor v. Oakhurst Dairy, it was shown that a comma can go a long way to avoid ambiguity.

In this case, a group of dairy delivery drivers sued Oakhurst, claiming the company failed to pay them overtime under Maine’s wage and hour laws.

Oakhurst argued that dairy delivery drivers are overtime-exempt under Maine’s “Exemption F.” Under Exemption F, Maine’s overtime law does not apply to:The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of: (1) Agricultural produce; (2) Meat and fish products; and (3) Perishable foods.

The outcome of this case came down to whether the drivers engaged in “packing for shipment or distribution.” The drivers argued that this phrase refers to a single activity of “packing,” whether the packing be for shipment or for distribution. Since the drivers did not pack food, the drivers reasoned, Exemption F did not apply to them. Oakhurst argued that the phrase actually refers to two different activities: “packing for shipment” and “distribution.” As the drivers clearly engaged in the distribution of food, Exemption F did apply to them.

Based on the plain language of the statute, the district court ruled in favor of Oakhurst.

However, on appeal, the First Circuit found the statute ambiguous. And with no other way to resolve the ambiguity, the First Circuit accepted the drivers’ narrower construction of the exemption and reversed the district court’s original ruling.

Federal law dictates that hourly (nonexempt) workers must be paid overtime for every hour worked over 40 hours in their work week. Regardless of these laws, some employers try to get creative and use illegal tactics to avoid paying workers overtime pay, 1.5 times their usual hourly rate.

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A Miami-Dade County employer that sells SIM cards for cellphones is accused of terminating an employee in retaliation for his complaints about not receiving overtime pay.

The man filed a complaint on behalf of similarly situated individuals on March 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he began working for the company to sell SIM cards in November 2015 and was unlawfully terminated in December 2016. He holds the company responsible because they allegedly terminated his employment in retaliation to his complaints about not being paid any overtime wages. He also alleges he was not paid commissions as promised.

Employees are commonly hesitant to report unlawful conduct in the workplace, including wage and hour violations. Many fear that if they take any such action, they will be fired or suffer other consequences.

Retaliation is defined as “an adverse action taken against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity.” Employer retaliation can take many forms and can include the following:

  • Termination
  • Denied Promotion
  • Demotion
  • Reduction in compensation
  • Reduction in hours
  • Unwarranted discipline

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Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen will pay $140,000 to 185 interns who worked for their fashion brand to settle a wage theft lawsuit filed in 2015, according to court documents filed in Manhattan Federal Court.

Each intern will receive a $530 payment from the former child star twins and the rest of the money will cover lawyers’ fees, if approved by a judge.

The 31-year-old sisters are worth more than $300 million.

The former interns, who filed the suit against the Olsens’ Dualstar Entertainment company, claimed that they should have been paid minimum wage plus overtime, because they were doing the kind of work their paid colleagues had done but without compensation.

 

One of the unpaid interns said she clocked 50 hours a week between May 2012 and September 2012 at the company. Her responsibilities included inputting data into spreadsheets, making tech sheets, running personal errands for paid employees, organizing materials, cleaning, photocopying and sewing, according to court documents.

The Olsens founded Dualstar when they were just 6. The company makes everything from videos, books and dolls to cosmetics and clothes. They started their fashion brand The Row in 2006.

All employees have a right to be paid at least minimum wage for the work they perform. In Florida, the current minimum wage is $8.10. Unpaid internships get a little tricky in the eyes of the law. The United States Department of Labor has set the following criteria for unpaid internships:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If every single one of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern.

If you are currently an unpaid intern, or have completed an unpaid internship, and you think you are/were an actual employee, our Florida Unpaid Wage & Overtime Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help. We will investigate the facts of your case and if we feel you have a valid claim, we will push to get you the fair financial compensation you deserve.

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According to a new study, men have been as likely to move into predominantly female jobs as the other way around over the last 15 years, but not all men.

It is the men who are already disadvantaged in the labor market: black, Hispanic, less educated, poor and immigrant men.

While work done by women continues to be valued less, the study demonstrates, job opportunities divide not just along gender lines but also by race and class.

At the same time, the women who have continued to delve into more prestigious male-dominated professions in that period are likely to be white, educated, native-born and married, according to the research, which has not been published yet.

The gender composition of jobs matters for reasons of equality — fields with a majority of men pay 21 percent more than those with mostly women. Also, the fastest-growing jobs are dominated by women, while the fastest-shrinking ones are predominantly male.

The jobs that have become more female are generally professional or managerial ones, according to the study.

More Female

Natural sciences managers

Veterinarians

Optometrists

Ushers and ticket takers

Brokerage clerks

Agricultural inspectors

Print binding and finishing workers

Dentists

Animal trainers

Agricultural and food scientists

Less Female

Computer operators

Counter and rental clerks

Radiation therapists

Inspectors and testers

New account clerks

Models and product promoters

Engine and machine assemblers

Electrical assemblers

Biological technicians

Furnace operators

Sex or gender discrimination in the workplace involves treating someone poorly because of their sex, whether they are applying for a job or are a current employee. While women can perform the same duties as men with the same skill and success, the issue of sex discrimination is still present in many workplaces and can hold women back. This is not to say that men cannot be discriminated against – in the past this has been predominantly an issue with women, but as times change and new studies like this one come out, it is clear that gender discrimination can equally be directed towards men.

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A Broward County man says his former employer did not pay for all of the overtime hours he worked as an insulation installer.

The man filed a complaint on Feb. 28. According to his complaint, between July 2014 and March 2017, he worked for more than 40 hours per week. He says the company failed to pay him any overtime premiums at a rate of time-and-one-half for working more than 40 hours per week. He added that he was terminated in retaliation for complaining about the practice.

No one wants to be duped out of their rightfully earned wages. As an employee, you work hard for your wages and expect that your employer will pay you any and all wages you are owed, including overtime pay.

If you know you earned overtime pay, but were denied overtime wages by your employer, you need to enlist the help of an Unpaid Overtime Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. We cannot stress enough how important it is to act fast in these cases. The longer you wait, the greater the risk of being unable to file a legitimate claim against your employer for unpaid wages.

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Almost 250 women and men are making sexual harassment claims against one of the nation’s largest jewelry companies, Sterling Jewelers, which operates under the name of Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry.

Claims of demeaning women and encouraging sexual discrimination are sweeping headlines.

Among the declarations, there are reports of a rape, male managers cavorting in a swimming pool with topless female employees at a mandatory manager’s conference and a witness who tells of a male manager suggesting that a female co-worker swipe a credit card between her breasts.

The declarations portray Sterling Jewelers as fostering a workplace where senior men treated young saleswomen as sexual objects, including groping, demeaning and demanding sex in return for better jobs and job security.

These declarations are part of a private class-action arbitration case first filed in 2008. It alleged female employees at the conglomerate were routinely sexually harassed, paid less and passed over for promotion at Sterling, which operates close to 1,500 stores in the United States.

There are statements that have come to light that describe top male managers at the company sending “scouting” parties to stores to find female staffers to target for sex.

The managers so frequently demanded sex from female workers in exchange for better positions within the company that there was an internal phrase for it called “going to the big stage.”

The class-action case includes 69,000 current and former females employees of Sterling.

Requests for sexual favors and physical conduct of a sexual nature are all forms of sexual harassment. If you are being harassed by being asked or told to perform sexual favors, call our Florida Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Whittel & Melton at 866-608-5529 to discuss your case. Your consultation is always free and everything discussed is kept fully confidential.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Pioneer Health Services Inc., a healthcare company in rural Georgia, alleging it unlawfully discriminated against an employee due to her disability.

A social worker and therapist for Pioneer Health Services became ill in July 2012 and was hospitalized as a result of liver failure. She took medical leave from the company during this time. After her procedure, she was slated to return to work, however, she had postoperative complications. According to the EEOC, the woman asked Pioneer Health for an additional four weeks of leave. The company allegedly denied her request and fired her.

The EEOC district direct issued the following statement:

The ADA and Family and Medical Leave Act operate independently of each other. Where an employee has exhausted her FMLA leave and she requests additional leave, the employer must engage in the interactive process to determine whether additional leave under the ADA is warranted.

The EEOC seeks monetary damages, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

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A Philadelphia man is suing his former employer, Hampton Inn – Pine Grove, alleging discrimination, retaliation, unpaid wages, violation of Workers’ Compensation acts and wrongful termination.

The man filed a complaint on Jan. 30 alleging that the employer discharged him from employment for raising a concern about a company policy.

According to the complaint, the man suffered damages from being required to report to work earlier than his scheduled shift without being paid for those hours. He holds his former employer responsible because they retaliated against him by terminating his employment.

Florida is an at-will employment state, which means employers can fire workers for any reason except those that are based on discrimination or in violation of an employment contract. Just because Florida is an at-will employment state does not mean workers do not have rights. In fact, if you were fired for unlawful or illegal reasons, you may be able to take action against your employer.

Our Florida Wrongful Termination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can start helping you right away. We can review your claim and determine if your employer violated your rights in any way. If you were wrongfully terminated, we will make it our mission to hold your employer accountable.

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A top engineering executive at Uber is gone just five weeks after his hire was announced. According to a report, the man failed to disclose that he’d left his previous job at Google because of a sexual harassment allegation.

The man denied the allegation and said he left Google a year ago for his own reasons.

This is just the latest turmoil at Uber. Last week, Uber found itself wrapped up in an unrelated sexual harassment catastrophe that stemmed from a detailed essay published by a former female Uber engineer, who charged that her prospects at the company evaporated after she complained about sexual advances from her boss. In the post about her year at Uber, the woman said that the company’s human resources department ignored her complaints because her boss was a high performer.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has called for an independent investigation of those issues, and the company has hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to help.

The hashtag #DeleteUber is making a comeback with this news.

Sexual harassment is something that no employee should ever have to tolerate at their place of work. When harassment happens on the job, it results in a hostile work environment. When someone must perform job duties in a hostile workplace, they may suffer from mental anguish and/or not be able to complete their work tasks. If their productivity drops, they could lose their job.

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A Florida Turnpike road ranger alleges he worked 2.5 hours of overtime per week and was never compensated for it.

The man filed a complaint on Feb. 26 against Florida Turnpike Services LLC alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he worked for more than 40 hours per week as a road ranger without being paid any overtime compensation. He holds Florida Turnpike Services LLC responsible because they failed to pay him any overtime premiums at a rate of time-and-one-half.

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