Reminder: New Federal Overtime Rule Effective December 1

Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay Exemption Salary Thresholds Raised for Many Employees

Effective December 1, a new rule updates the regulations governing which executive, administrative, professional, and highly compensated employees are entitled to the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Current Rules
The current federal rules provide an exemption from both the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements of the FLSA for bona fide executive, administrative, and professional employees who meet certain tests regarding their job duties and who are paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week ($23,660 per year). “Highly compensated employees” (HCEs) who are paid total annual compensation of $100,000 or more and meet certain other conditions are also deemed exempt.

New Rule
The new rule updates the salary and compensation levels needed for executive, administrative, professional, and highly compensated employees to be exempt. In particular, the final rule:

  • Raises the salary threshold from $455 a week to $913 per week (or $47,476 annually) for a full-year worker;
  • Increases the HCE total annual compensation level to $134,004 annually;
  • Amends the regulations to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses, incentives, and commissions to satisfy up to 10% of the new standard salary level, so long as employers pay those amounts on a quarterly or more frequent basis; and
  • Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every 3 years, beginning on January 1, 2020.

Note: When both the FLSA and a state law apply, the employee is entitled to the most favorable provisions of each law.


Updated 2016 Michigan Labor Law Poster


The state of Michigan just released a new minimum wage poster that Michigan-Federal-Combo-Labor-Law-Poster-Englishtakes effect January 1, 2016. The new rate is $8.50 an hour. In addition, there have been a few other changes to the posters this year. The Michigan Safety and Health Protection on the Job has been updated to reflect the new regulations regarding reporting all work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye. Employers must notify the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs within 24 hours. Both of these changes and a few other minor changes are now included in our 2016 posters!

You may place your order directly online, or click to download the 2016 Order Form which you may return to us via email, postal mail, or fax at (714) 521-7728. For more information, you may contact us at (800) 273-0307 or send us an email at, our knowledgeable Customer Service Team will readily assist you.

California’s Minimum Wage Increases to $10 per Hour

CA Minimum WageOakland—The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) reminds California’s employers and workers that effective January 1, 2016, the state’s minimum wage will increase to $10 per hour.

“This increase in the minimum wage is California’s second increase in 18 months. Those earning minimum wage will now have a bit more to take home every paycheck,” said Labor Commissioner Julie Su. The Labor Commissioner’s Office is a division of DIR.

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on September 25, 2013, raising California’s minimum wage to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014, with a final adjustment to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016. It marked the first increase in California’s hourly minimum since 2008, when the minimum wage was raised 50 cents to $8.

State law requires employers to post information on wages, hours and working conditions at a worksite area accessible to employees. Notices for the wage orders in English and Spanish can be downloaded and printed from the Workplace postings page on the DIR website.

Almost all employees in California must be paid the minimum wage as required by state law. Workers who are paid less than the minimum wage may file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s office.

DIR protects and improves the health, safety and economic well-being of over 18 million wage earners, and helps their employers comply with state labor laws.

DIR’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), also known as the Labor Commissioner’s Office, enforces prevailing wage rates and apprenticeship standards in public works projects, inspects workplaces for wage and hour violations, adjudicates wage claims, investigates retaliation complaints, issues licenses and registrations for businesses and educates the public on labor laws.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734). The California Workers’ Information line at 866-924-9757 provides recorded information in English and Spanish on a variety of work-related topics.

California closes in on equal pay for women, in bill described as ‘stronger than federal law’

Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, right, is congratulated by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, after her measure to close the gender wage gap in California, was approved by the Assembly, Thursday, in Sacramento. The bill, AB1017, bars employers from using previous salary information as justification for paying women less then their male co-workers, now goes to the governor. RICH PEDRONCELLI, AP

California could soon boast one of the nation’s toughest laws aimed at closing the salary gap between men and women.

State lawmakers gave final approval this week to the California Fair Pay Act, which says women must be paid the same as their male colleagues for “substantially similar work.” It leaves limited exceptions, such as rewarding more extensive training, education or experience.

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law.

“It’s not only the strongest state law in the country. It’s stronger than federal law,” said Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, a women’s rights organization that lobbied for the bill.

The legislation, which applies to all businesses, beefs up California’s existing anti-discrimination law by requiring employers show that a pay difference between male and female workers is based on a legitimate factor, such as seniority or a merit-based system.
Simply having different titles isn’t a defense under the bill. A hotel housekeeper, for instance, could challenge higher wages paid to male janitors, who do substantially the same work, noted Farrell.

The Fair Pay Act, SB358, also prohibits retaliation against workers who discuss colleagues’ wages. It doesn’t require employers to disclose wages.

Supporters say women often fail to challenge pay gaps because they don’t know they exist. Farrell said many of the women who call her organization’s hotline say they are too scared to discuss their colleagues’ pay with their bosses.

In addition, the legislation closes a loophole in existing law by allowing people who work for employers with multiple locations to challenge their pay based on the wages of workers at other sites.

Farrell’s organization isn’t typically on the same side as the business community, but in this case it was. The bill had the support not just of labor groups but also the California Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber dropped its initial opposition after getting additional clarity on the exceptions under which an employer may provide differential pay.

“We are hopeful that SB358 will limit litigation as it provides an objective criteria for employers at the outset to determine the pay base for employees and make sure those are not determined based on gender,” Chamber policy advocate Jennifer Barrera said in a recent statement.

The legislation wasn’t particularly contentious among lawmakers, either. The California Assembly passed the legislation 76-2 on Aug. 27. State senators unanimously approved the bill on Monday. Orange County’s entire legislative delegation voted for the bill.

Only one major organization opposed the bill: California National Organization for Women. Though the group advocates for pay equality, it opposed the legislation because it did not include specific protections against wage discrimination based on race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

The law’s author, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, cited studies that found California women earned 84 cents to every dollar men earned.

Nationally, women make 78 cents on every dollar men make. Women of color fare worse, with Latino and black women earning 54 percent and 64 percent of white men’s earnings, according to the American Association of University Women.

California has prohibited gender-based wage discrimination since 1949. However, the state provisions have been used rarely due to language that makes it difficult to establish a successful claim, the legislation says.

Under the bill, employees can sue for wage discrimination or retaliation in civil court. Or they can file complaints with the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The state agency would keep workers’ names confidential during the investigation, the bill says. The office would supervise the payment of wages and interest due to employees of a company that violates the law.

The Orange County Register
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Bumble Bee to pay record $6 million settlement after worker cooked in tuna batch

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Canned-tuna producer Bumble Bee Foods has agreed to a record $6 million settlement in the death of a worker cooked to death in an industrial oven with 12,000 lbs of fish. The company and two managers charged in the incident have pleaded guilty.

Jose Melena, of Wilmington, was killed in a workplace accident at Bumble Bee Seafoods in Santa Fe Springs. Courtesy photo

Jose Melena, of Wilmington, was killed in a workplace accident at Bumble Bee Seafoods in Santa Fe Springs. Courtesy photo

The $6 million payout is the largest known in a California criminal prosecution for workplace safety violations involving a single victim, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

In October 2012, Jose Melena, 62, was performing maintenance work in a 35-foot-long industrial oven at Bumble Bee’s Santa Fe Springs plant when a co-worker, thinking Melena was on a bathroom break, filled the pressure cooker with thousands of pounds of tuna and turned it on.

According to a report by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), Melena’s supervisor then noticed he was missing. A search was conducted in the plant and parking lot before his body was found two hours later – after the oven had reached a temperature of 270 degrees Fahrenheit (132°C).

The oven where a Bumble Bee worker died in 2012 in Santa Fe Springs, California. State regulators found that the chain that pulls carts of tuna into the ovens sometimes get snagged, requiring operators to enter the ovens to pull the carts through. California Division of Occupational Safety and Health

The oven where a Bumble Bee worker died in 2012 in Santa Fe Springs, California. State regulators found that the chain that pulls carts of tuna into the ovens sometimes get snagged, requiring operators to enter the ovens to pull the carts through. California Division of Occupational Safety and Health

The settlement will be split into several parts. Bumble Bee will spend $3 million to replace all of their outdated tuna ovens with new, automated ovens equipped with video cameras that “will not ever require workers to set foot inside the super-heated, pressurized steam cookers.” Another $1.5 million in restitution will go to Melena’s family. The company will donate $750,000 to the District Attorney’s Environmental Enforcement Fund for the investigation and prosecution of OSHA criminal cases and for “improving enforcement of workplace safety and compliance rules.” Bumble Bee will pay an additional $750,000 in combined fines, penalties and court costs.

“While this resolution will help bring closure with the district attorney’s office, we will never forget the unfathomable loss of our colleague Jose Melena and we are committed to ensuring that employee safety remains a top priority at all our facilities,” Bumble Bee Foods said in a statement.

Along with the financial settlement, the company will plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge of willful failure to implement and maintain an effective safety program within 18 months of complying with the terms of the settlement agreement, which “I hope [it] sends a message that safety rules are not a recommendation, they are a legal requirement,” said Hoon Chun, consumer protection division assistant head deputy for the district attorney, who helped prosecute the case, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Prosecutors also charged two managers with three counts of violating OSHA rules, which led to Melena’s death. Both pleaded guilty on Monday as well.

The company’s former safety manager, Saul Florez, pleaded guilty to a felony count of willfully violating lockout tagout rules and proximately causing the victim’s death. He was sentenced to three years of probation, 30 days of community labor and must take safety classes on lockout tagout and confined spaces. He must also pay $19,000 in fines and penalty assessments. If he complies with the terms of his plea within 18 months, his conviction may be reduced to a misdemeanor count.

Bumble Bee’s Director of Plant Operations, Angel Rodriguez, agreed to do 320 hours of community service, pay approximately $11,400 in fines and penalty assessments, and take classes on lockout tagout and confined space rules. If he complies within 18 months, he may plead guilty to a misdemeanor at sentencing.

The company and both men must make public statements admitting their guilt in Melena’s death.