On June 11, 2019, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the Clark-Figures Equal Pay Act (the “Alabama EPA”). The Alabama EPA provides that it shall be unlawful for an employer to “pay any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of another sex or race for equal work within the same establishment on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and performance under similar working conditions.” The Alabama EPA takes effect September 1, 2019. Previously, employers and employees in Alabama were subject to the federal Equal Pay Act (the “EPA”). Similar to the EPA, no discriminatory intent has to be proven under the Alabama EPA, and an employee can recover the wage differential plus interest. In contrast to the EPA, the Alabama EPA does not permit recovery of liquidated damages (double the amount of the wage differential) or attorneys’ fees. Also in contrast to the EPA, the Alabama EPA requires parity in wages based on race as well as sex. The Alabama EPA specifically permits wage differentials resulting from a merit system, a seniority system, or a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production. An employer also may raise a defense that the wage differential was based on a factor other than sex or race, although the final version of the Alabama EPA does not provide any examples of such factors. Continue reading
Executive Summary: With Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) lawsuits becoming ubiquitous in recent years, it can be easy to forget that the act does not apply to all businesses or all employees. On July 17, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit provided a useful reminder that the first step in analyzing any FLSA claim is not determining if there are minimum wage or overtime violations, but rather if the FLSA applies at all. Specifically, in Collar v. Abalux, Inc., No. 18-10676, __ F.3d __, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 19592 (11th Cir. July 17, 2018) the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment to an employer because the FLSA was not triggered given that the company had less than $500,000 in annual gross receipts, which is the minimum for enterprise coverage under the statute. Continue reading
Executive Summary: Earlier this week, in Lewis v. Governor of Alabama, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 20635, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals resurrected a lawsuit alleging Alabama’s predominantly-white state legislature discriminated against the workers in Birmingham, a predominantly black city, by overriding the city’s ordinance to increase the city’s minimum wage. While changes to the minimum wage often elicit strong opinions from employers, workers, and other interested parties, few laws have engendered the passions and inspired the racially-charged allegations presented in Lewis. As discussed below, in light of the Eleventh Circuit’s recent opinion, employers and workers in Birmingham must continue to wait to see if the city’s increased minimum wage will ever take effect.