Statement on Recent Wage and Hour Activity

A week ago, January 10, 2022, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor posted a press release stating that 80 percent of gins investigated owed back wages or penalties for non-compliance with Labor Laws. Articles citing this press release have been published in newspapers and trade publications, large and small.

On January 12, we released the statement below. It is never any of our members intent to break the rules. Labor laws and rules governing agricultural labor are complex and often hard to understand. We are working with the Wage and Hour division and others on improving compliance among our members. Please give us a call if you have any questions regarding our statement.

Wage and Hour Inspections Under Way

We’ve received a number of reports (all in Alabama so far) that US DoL Wage and Hour inspectors are visiting gins across the state. We’ve gotten reports from both ends of the state of inspectors visiting gins this week. Take a few minutes to review the rules and regs contained in this document. The Ginners Practical Guide is a great source of information on the more common Wage and Hour issues that many ginners face.

The most common issues that we’ve seen in the past are: Not sending the terms of employment (wh-516) prior to the migrant worker leaves home; Partial overtime for gin workers for 14 weeks; housing conditions; minimum liability and condition of vehicles used to transport MSPA workers; and bonuses.

All these and more are covered in the Ginners Practical Guide.

Please give us a call if you have questions or need help with the information in the guide.


Fifth Circuit Court Agrees to Expedited Appeal on Overtime Rule

As we mentioned last month, a Federal Court judge in Texas issued an injunction blocking the implementation of the Department of Labor’s white collar exemption changes. The judge implied that the 21 states and various business groups had a potential to win their case and that there would be significant harm in allowing the rule to go forward. This week the Department of Labor filed an appeal of the injunction at the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

The Fifth Circuit not only agreed to hear the case but also agreed to an expedited schedule for arguments. For all intents and purposes, the court will hear all the arguments and accept all of the amicus briefs by the end of January. The Court will rule shortly thereafter on whether or not the injunction was properly issued.

The timing of the appeal could make things quite interesting. President-elect Trump has said Continue reading

Overtime and MSPA

We’ve heard some reports of US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division inspectors in some gins in the region recently. No widespread reports, just routine inspections. It’s been a while since we reminded everyone that the rules that apply to gins can be a bit complicated and not routine for either the you or the inspector.

Several years ago, a (long since retired) Wage and Hour inspector worked with National Cotton Ginners Association to create a document that ginners could use to help unravel the rules in language that even I could understand. That document was reviewed in 2008 by a labor attorney in Atlanta. The information in the document is still correct. The Ginners Practical Guide to Compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act goes in to enough detail on both of those subjects to  handle MOST of the situations that ginners will see.

Please be aware that inspectors will often point to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for their justification of back wages and fines. The last review of the CFR showed that it was not updated for changes that were made nearly 40 years ago regarding overtime in gins. The Ginners Practical Guide refers to the underlying law and can be relied on. If you get into a discussion with the inspector on the application of the 48 hour partial exemption referred to in an earlier post this season, please let us know and we’ll do what we can to point the inspector in the right direction. We are not lawyers and neither are they. They can only go by what they are told in the CFR…even if it is wrong, they may not know it is wrong. Its not the inspectors fault.

As always give us a call if you have any questions.

Judge to Rule in Overtime Exemption Case Next Week

As we reported last month, several states and business groups had sued to temporarily block the implementation of the revised overtime exemption rules commonly known as the “white collar” exemptions. The details can be found in this article or a simple Google search for the exemption will give you more information than you need. The rule has an effective date of December 1, 2016… for now anyway.

According to this article, the suits have been combined and were heard together earlier this week. From what I’ve read, the judge seems somewhat sympathetic to the business and state plaintiffs in the matter. At least for now, the groups are asking for a temporary stay or Continue reading

Efforts to Kill or Delay the White Collar Overtime Exemption Continue

The much discussed changes to the so called white collar exemption which exempts certain jobs from overtime go into effect December 1, 2016 unless any one of a number of efforts to stop or delay the rule are successful.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, there are currently two law suits filed that are attempting to block implementation of the rule change. One is by a group of company and business groups. The second is by 21 State Governments including many from the Southeast. This effort probably has the best chance of a delay by way of an injunction so Continue reading