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monimum wage increase aheadIn a 43-page ruling issued late Tuesday, Federal Judge Richard Jones denied the International Franchise Association’s (“IFA”) bid to prevent Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance’s franchise provision from going into effect as written. As a result, starting April 1, most franchisees in Seattle will be treated as “large” employers under the Ordinance, meaning they must pay the higher initial rate of $11 per hour. They also will scale up to the $15 minimum wage in just three years, much more rapidly than small businesses. While this is not the end of IFA’s case attacking the franchise provision, it is a big setback and a strong indication that IFA is unlikely to ultimately be successful.

Are your employees using company email during nonworking hours?  This blog brings the latest developments in NLRB’s ruling and important policy changes that employers can implement to comply with the ruling. Thank you! – Greg

Our post today provides important steps to take when employers are faced with an employee with a new SSN or Employment Authorization Document. Thank you! - Greg

This blog post discusses how the recent Supreme Court ruling, Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, may impact potential employee wage and hour claims for hourly employees in the future. – Greg

California employers are currently scratching their heads over how to interpret “suitable seating” that is required under California Wage Orders. Nancy Cooper, member of our Labor and Employment Group and Hospitality, Travel and Tourism practice team, discusses how that term is defined will affect your business. Thank you for today’s post, Nancy! - Greg

On June 2, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to approve a $15 minimum wage ordinance. Mayor Ed Murray signed it the next day. The ordinance provides that all employers will be required to reach the $15 per hour wage over a period of years, depending on their number of employees. Very generally speaking, and subject to a number of specifics touched on below, employers with 500 or fewer employees will be required to pay $10.00 an hour starting on April 1, 2015, and will make annual increases culminating in $15.00 an hour in 2021. Employers with more than 500 employers will need to pay $11.00 an hour starting in April 2015, and will reach $15.00 an hour in 2017 (2018 for employers who contribute to employee health insurance premiums).

Employers are grappling not only with how to manage the logistics of the increased wage, but with how to read the ordinance’s many definitions and exceptions. In the coming months we expect to see rule making and legal challenges that will hopefully clarify the impacts of the ordinance, so stay tuned. This blog post addresses a few of the questions we’ve been hearing so far.

As you may know, discrimination based on gender identity is unlawful in several states and many cities. This includes both the State of Washington and the City of Seattle. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has also taken the position that gender identity is protected under Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex.

While the antidiscrimination laws that protect transgendered individuals are not new, the subject of gender identity may be new to your managers. This post is intended to provide a very basic understanding of transgender issues to get employers off on the right foot for appropriately, sensitively, and lawfully handling gender expression issues in the workplace.

It is no secret that wage and hour class actions are among the “hot topic” law suits that are on the increase. Like too many people, when I hear “class action” my heart starts to race, beads of sweat break out on my forehead and I start to feel sick to my stomach…and I don’t even own the business that is named in the suit. I just know the wage and hour cases are time intensive and expensive to defend. Wage and hour class actions often deal with the tried and true wage claims, misclassification of exempt employees as well as the overtime claims that go hand in hand with the misclassification. However, occasionally one comes along that makes you stop and think.

By now, most hoteliers and restaurateurs know that all employers are required to prepare and maintain the Form I-9 for all of their employees. But did you realize that those forms can be a basis for financial liability if they were improperly prepared? This post will identify your risks and strategies to reduce a fine if you are ever audited by the government.

Tags: Form I-9

Some employees in SeaTac, Washington will ring in the new year with a minimum wage increase to $15 dollars an hour, and other benefits including paid sick and safe leave. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2014. Following a judge’s recent ruling, the changes will not apply to employees within the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. If, however, you’re in the hospitality and/or transportation industry operating outside of the airport, and satisfy certain size requirements (for instance, hotels are generally covered if they include 100 or more guest rooms AND are staffed by 30 or more workers), you need to prepare for changes under the new law.

More information to come. You can contact Greg Duff with any questions.

SeaTac minimum wage initiative

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About the Editor

Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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