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Note – This post has been updated to correct a calculation error noted below.

The impending increase in the minimum salary for the executive, administrative and professional exemptions under the FLSA has many employers looking for ways to manage overtime costs for newly-reclassified employees. As part of that search, you might have heard of this idea called the “fluctuating workweek method” for calculating overtime as one alternative that can yield major savings. So what is this method, and how does it work?


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Close up of lights on police carIf a tree falls in the forest but there is no one around to hear, does it make a sound? If a non-exempt worker answers an e-mail message after hours on her Blackberry but fails to put in for overtime, has she performed compensable work? While I’m not aware of any firm legal authority on the first question, a recent ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois offers a detailed and instructive analysis of the second. 

In Allen v. City of Chicago, a group of 51 of current and former officers in the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Organized Crime (“BOC”)  alleged that the City willfully violated the FLSA by requiring them to use their Blackberry devices for work-related communications while they were off duty without compensation. 


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lunch9568375.jpgQ. We offer free lunches to our food service employees. Can we count the cost of these lunches as part of our employees’ compensation?

A. The short answer is yes, but as we all know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, particularly in the world of wage and hour law. To explore the right way to do this, it’s helpful to take a look at some common mistakes that employers make. 

Suppose Jerry works at Bob’s Steak ‘N Beans as a line cook. Bob’s is located in Illinois, so the minimum wage for non-tipped employees is $8.25 per hour. Suppose Jerry works 45 hours over 5 work days in a week. For that week, he would be entitled to straight-time wages of $371.25. However, rather than paying that full amount in cash, Bob provides Jerry with a free Steak ‘N Beans Bonanza platter each day for lunch. The menu cost of the platter is $15, so Bob deducts $15 per day from Jerry’s pay, leaving him with $296.25 in straight-time pay. On Thursday, Jerry brought a salad from home, but Bob still charged him for the platter since it was available to Jerry even if he didn’t eat it. (Bob ended up serving it to a customer.) Bob didn’t just fall of the turnip truck, so he knows that he also has to pay Jerry overtime for 5 hours. So Bob takes Jerry’s total straight-time wages ($296.25), divides by 45, and divides by two to get an overtime premium rate of $3.29 per hour. Multiplied by five hours, he gets $16.46. Adding that amount to Jerry’s straight-time pay, Bob comes up with a total of $312.71. 

Can anyone spot the problems here?


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The Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL) generally provides that non-exempt employees must be paid one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. However, on July 10, 2015, Governor Rauner signed legislation amending the IMWL as it pertains to public employees who are members of a bargaining unit

Thanks to all of our clients and friends for such a great turnout at today’s webinar on the new DOL overtime exemption rules and the Administrator’s Interpretation on independent contractors. In case you missed the webinar, or if you just want to go back and review the materials and recording, you can find both

Note: This post relates to the Department of Labor’s proposed rules issued in 2015. For a summary of the final rules issued May 18, 2016, please check out this post, and see this post for a link to the recording of our May 23, 2016 webinar.

This morning, the Department of Labor’s Wage &