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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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

If you read this blog, attend presentations on wage and hour issues, or just shudder every time you read about another overtime or minimum wage lawsuit, you might assume that all employees are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and its regulations. However, in some rare circumstances, the FLSA may not cover very small and, importantly, local businesses, meaning that those businesses’ employees may not be entitled to the minimum wage or overtime pay under the FLSA. A quick warning before we start: as we have highlighted in the past, though, most states and an increasing number of local governments do not provide exemptions from state and local minimum wage laws, even for small businesses. With a very few exceptions, the fact that the FLSA does not apply only resolves one half of the question; you almost certainly still have to contend (and comply) with state and local laws, that may have different standards and penalties.

Setting aside state and local issues for a moment, the FLSA provides two different ways for coverage to apply: and “enterprise coverage” and “individual coverage.” Setting aside more complex corporate structures that can implicate “joint employer” or similar tests, both coverage tests are straightforward. For most businesses, the FLSA’s enterprise coverage provisions will apply if the business meets two tests. First, the business must be involved in interstate commerce. Second, the business’s gross annual revenue must be at least $500,000. If a business meets both tests, then all employees working for the business are covered, regardless of whether they ever engage in interstate commerce. Notwithstanding these limits, the FLSA also automatically covers some businesses, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, or other residential care facilities as well as all governmental entities (regardless of the level of government), no matter how big or small.


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wolf in sheeps clothing.jpgRecently, I read about a construction contractor in Los Angeles caught in the middle of litigation between its subcontractors and the city, on behalf of the subcontractor’s former employees. According to the employees, the subcontractors had allegedly promised to pay them the prevailing wage for that area of $49.00 per hour, but had only paid