New Year – New Wage Hour Opinions (Sort Of)

Executive Summary: In a change from the prior administration, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on Friday reinstated nearly 20 “opinion letters” previously published under the Bush administration, but withdrawn prior to implementation by the Obama administration. The U.S. DOL also issued field bulletins providing new guidance on enforcement positions. The reissued letters predominately focus on specific industries; however, three of opinions generally apply to all employers. Below is a brief summary of each opinion. Should you wish to discuss these in greater detail, please contact Salvador Simao at ssimao@fordharrison.com.

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U.S. DOL Endorses Primary Beneficiary Test for Internships

Executive Summary: Recently, the US Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will adhere to a new test for determining whether interns qualify as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires for-profit employers to pay “employees” for their work; however, whether interns or students qualify as “employees,” and, thus, are entitled to compensation for services provided, has been the subject of considerable litigation. In its statement, the DOL abandoned the six-factor test it instituted in 2010, and instead endorsed the “primary beneficiary” test which was established by the Second Circuit in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. Further, the DOL stated that the Wage and Hour Division’s investigators will “holistically analyze internships on a case-by-case basis.” This is a strategic change in the DOL’s enforcement policies to align its procedures with several circuit court decisions.

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