Photo of Bill Pokorny

Bill is a partner at Franczek P.C. As co-chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group, Bill is particularly versed in all aspects of state and federal law relating to minimum wages, overtime, exemptions, and wage payment issues. Bill also regularly counsels employers on issues relating to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), disability and accommodations. Bill provides management and employee training on workplace legal issues, and also conducts workplace investigations and legal audits. Bill also has extensive litigation experience, representing employers in federal and state courts and administrative agencies such as the U.S. and Illinois Departments of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 2014, Bill was named to the annual "40 Under 40" published by Law Bulletin Publishing which recognizes 40 attorneys under the age of 40 based on nominations by their clients, peers and the legal community.

A common question for schools assessing how to comply with the new overtime exemption rule published by the U.S. DOL is what to do about coaches and athletic trainers in light of the new minimum salary requirement for the executive, administrative and professional exemptions.

For coaches, two exemptions may still apply even if the coach’s salary falls below the new thresholds of $884 per week (starting July 1, 2024) or $1,128 per week (starting January 1, 2025). A coach whose primary job duties are instructing student athletes on topics such as athletic performance, physical health, team concepts, and safety, or designing instructional programs for student athletes or the team as a whole, may qualify for the teaching exemption. Employees who fall under the teaching exemption do not have to be paid on a salary basis or meet the minimum salary level under the regulations.Continue Reading Coaches and Athletic Trainers Under the New FLSA Exemption Rules

The U.S. Department of Labor recently published new final regulations that increase the minimum salary level for most employees to be considered exempt under the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act. While these new rules could affect some 4 million workers, not all exempt employees are subject to the minimum salary requirement.Continue Reading Not All Exempt Employees Are Affected by the New Minimum Salary Rule

On April 23, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor issued final regulations updating the minimum salary threshold for employees to be considered exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The regulations are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on April 26, 2024. The new rules increase the minimum salary from the current level of $684 per week (about $35,568 per year) to $844 per week (about $43,888 per year) effective July 1, 2024, and $1,128 per week (about $58,656 per year) effective January 1, 2025. According to the final rule, $844 per week is the “20th percentile for weekly earnings of full-time nonhourly workers in the lowest-wage Census Region and/or retail industry nationally,” and $1,128 per week is the 35th percentile. Beginning July 1, 2027 and every three years thereafter, the salary level would be readjusted to reflect updated earnings data. Continue Reading U.S. DOL Updates Salary Thresholds for Overtime Exemptions

In April, the Illinois Department of Labor published new regulations regarding the expense reimbursement requirements in Section 9.5 of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act. The Act requires an employer to reimburse an employee for “all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee within the employee’s scope of employment and directly related to services performed by the employer.” It defines “necessary expenditures” as “all reasonable expenditures or losses required of the employee in the discharge of employment duties that inure to the primary benefit of the employer.” Continue Reading New Reimbursement Rules for Illinois Employers

Wage and hour law is full of traps for the unwary. Even compensation practices that are well-accepted across an entire industry can sometimes create huge headaches for employers in the face of a legal challenge. Case in point: A recent decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Hewitt v. Helix Energy Solutions Group, Case No. 19-20023, in is causing upheaval in the energy sector by suggesting that even highly paid supervisory employees may be entitled to overtime pay on top of their six-figure compensation because they are paid a day rate rather than a weekly salary.
Continue Reading Even High Earning Supervisors Can Be Entitled to Overtime

On September 8, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down portions of a January 2020 Final Rule issued by the Department of Labor. The Final Rule provided a new test for determining whether an entity is a joint employer with another entity under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Final Rule, which became effective in March of 2020, severely limited the situations in which an entity can be considered a joint employer and held liable for violations of the FLSA in a “vertical” joint employment relationship. A vertical joint employment relationship is the variety of joint employment that exists when there is some sort of intermediary, like a staffing firm, PLA, or temp agency between the employee and the employer that ultimately benefits from the employee’s work. We discussed “horizontal” joint employment in a prior post.

Several states, including Illinois, filed suit challenging the Final Rule’s legality with respect to the Final Rule’s changes to the vertical joint employment determination. Historically, courts and the DOL have made clear that control over an individual’s employment is not the dispositive factor in determining whether an entity is a joint employer with another entity. Instead, whether a joint employment relationship exists depends upon whether the employee in question is economically dependent upon the potential joint employer.Continue Reading DOL’s Joint Employer Test Ruled Illegal

Screen clip from Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
U.S. DOL Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

On November 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor published a proposed rule that would make it easier for some employers to apply the “Fluctuating Workweek” method of calculating overtime pay for certain non-exempt employees.

Background

For those not familiar with the concept, the fluctuating workweek method is one way of calculating overtime pay for non-exempt employees who are paid a fixed salary but whose hours fluctuate from week to week. The fluctuating workweek method can be extremely advantageous for employers because it allows an employer to pay a non-exempt employee a fixed salary covering all of the employee’s straight-time work, regardless of the number of hours worked. If an employee works overtime, they still receive premium pay for each hour worked, but the rate is one-half of the employee’s regular rate instead of 1.5 times the regular rate. For a full explanation of this method and the conditions under which it can be used, check out our earlier explanation here.

Under the current rules, several conditions must be met before an employer can use the fluctuating workweek method. These include:Continue Reading DOL Proposes Rule to Make Bonus and Incentive Pay Compatible With Fluctuating Workweek

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Labor issued its final rule concerning overtime exemptions. The rule increases the salary threshold for employees exempt under the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions (the “white collar exemptions”) from $455 per week (or $23,660 annually) to $684 per week (or $35,568 annually). Additional changes include:

  • Increasing the total annual compensation threshold for highly compensated employees (“HCEs”) from $100,000 per year to $107,432 per year;
  • Permitting employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments to satisfy up to 10% of the increase salary threshold; and
  • Committing to updating the salary threshold more regularly.

The new rule is set to take effect on January 1, 2020 and increase the number of overtime-eligible employees by 1.3 million. No changes to the duties test have been made.Continue Reading New Minimum Salary For Exempt Employees Takes Effect January 1, 2020