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Minimum Wage Controversies Continue

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In April 2016, we reported that California and New York became the first states to enact $15-per-hour minimum wage standards. Though no other state has adopted this precedent, New Jersey made an attempt – only to have it vetoed, and a handful of cities have passed similar minimum wage standards.

Wage-related woes also loom large for a major, U.S. fast- casual restaurant chain embroiled in courtroom battle, with nearly 10,000 current and former employees suing the company for unpaid wages.

Here’s a rundown of both situations.

New Jersey Governor Shoots Down Minimum Wage Proposal

On Tuesday, August 30, 2016, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie nixed a proposal to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage from $8.38 to $15 per hour over the next five years. At a grocery store in Pennington, New Jersey, Christie described the proposed $15-per-hour minimum wage as a “really radical increase” that “would trigger an escalation of wages that will make doing business in New Jersey unaffordable.” The Republican governor also argued that the radical increase would cause more small-business employees to be replaced by automated kiosks.

Christie’s veto has prompted liberal groups and Democrats who control the statehouse to make the legislation top priority. In their response to Christie’s decision, the Democrats announced their intention to introduce an amendment to the State Constitution that would place the matter on the fall 2017 ballot for voters to decide. According to Assembly Speaker and lead sponsor of the proposal Vincent Prieto, the current minimum wage is a “poverty wage” and forces families to rely on government assistance. Prieto also said that he’s “confident that New Jersey residents will eventually right this wrong.”

In the meantime, California and New York remain the only states to pass $15-per-hour minimum wage legislations.

Major Fast-Casual Restaurant Chain Accused of Wage Theft in Class-Action Lawsuit

The dynamics of unpaid wages and working off the clock are front and center in a lawsuit involving nearly 10,000 current and former restaurant employees. In the Turner et al. case, Plaintiff Leah Turner, a former manager, alleged on behalf of herself individually and other similarly situated Plaintiffs that the restaurant required nonexempt, hourly-paid employees to work off the clock without pay.

Turner initially filed an individual lawsuit in 2013, but dismissed the case to join a subsequent collective action in Minnesota. Turner was ultimately excluded from the class in the Minnesota case. In 2014, her attorneys filed a separate class-action lawsuit in Colorado – which now includes nearly 10,000 current and former restaurant workers, from various states, claiming unpaid wages. The Plaintiffs assert that despite officially being off the clock, employees were required to keep working until granted permission to leave. In addition, Plaintiffs assert that the restaurants’ failure to pay its employees for off-the-clock work has resulted in unpaid minimum wages and/or unpaid overtime wages.

The case is currently pending, and the Defendant has denied the allegations, stating that it has complied with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and has paid its workers for all time worked.

What Does the FLSA Say?

Under the FLSA, covered nonexempt employees must receive no less than the federal minimum hourly wage for all hours worked. The FLSA also generally considers time spent working off the clock as hours worked if the employer requested that the employee perform the work or allowed the employee to do the work.

The Turner case sends a clear reminder that it’s important to establish precise and compliant time-and-labor policies and solutions.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only. Accordingly, Paycom and the writer of the above content do not warrant the completeness or accuracy of the above information. It does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, or professional consulting. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal or other professional services.

Lauren Toppins

by Lauren Toppins

Author Bio: Lauren Toppins is Paycom’s Corporate Attorney and has served as the head of the legal department since 2010. Prior to joining Paycom, she served in a general counsel role for three years. In addition to her Juris Doctor, Toppins also holds her Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certificate. During her position as corporate attorney, Toppins managed Paycom’s human resources department. Toppins’ practice focuses on employment law, corporate law, intellectual property and information security law. In her role as corporate attorney, Toppins also oversees Paycom's compliance department and leads a taskforce that conducts periodic reviews of existing employment laws as well as newly implemented laws and pending litigation. In addition, Toppins spearheads a quality management program through which she obtained ISO 27001 and 9001 certifications for Paycom. In her spare time, Toppins also serves her local community by serving on the Board of Leadership Oklahoma City.

California State Law

Why California State Laws Matter Nationwide

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Employment law constantly evolves, bringing new challenges to your HR department. By keeping an eye on changing legislation across the country, you can prepare your organization to remain compliant and be ready when laws change in your neck of the woods.

On a recent episode of Paycom’s HR Break Room podcast, we talked with Coby Turner, senior editor of the California Peculiarities Employment Law Blog and a Seyfarth Shaw associate, about a few strange employment laws emerging from the Golden State. Here are three key takeaways from our conversation.

1. Historically, California has been a trendsetter in employment law

Given California’s history as a trendsetter in U.S. law employment, business professionals should consider how the state’s laws may impact their company in the future.

One example is paid sick leave, which started in the city of San Francisco before spreading statewide. Other West Coast states – including Arizona, Oregon and Washington – since have passed similar legislation. Other California laws that have expanded beyond its borders include local minimum wage and medical marijuana initiatives.

2. Prepare your business beforehand

When a city implements a law, other cities and states wait to see how successful it is. Did the law hurt businesses? Did businesses leave the city or state? In most recent cases, like San Francisco’s paid sick leave, the answer is no.

According to Coby Turner, these changes often improve the lives and engagement of employees, which leads to organizations experiencing less turnover and more success. Turner said once a “test” city’s new legislation plays out, other cities or states may petition similar legislation on ballot measures, and employees may be the ones who push their representatives to enact such initiatives.

It’s important to be aware as these changes occur, so you never play from behind. Prepare for such changes to come to your own city or state, as word spreads fast. When top talent hears that paid sick leave or predictive scheduling are requirements in another state, they may want – and expect – the same. For employers outside of California, this makes paying attention crucial, especially if your organization wishes to attract and employ millennial talent from across the country.

3. Watch for updates on predictive scheduling and equal pay laws

Getting a lion’s share of attention is California’s measure on predictive scheduling, currently in the state’s legislature. Such laws in the cities of Berkeley and Emeryville require employers to give employees a certain amount of notice of their weekly schedule; employers making last-minute changes are penalized. Those cities also require employers to offer part-time employees more hours before hiring new people or temporary workers.

California also has instituted one of the stiffest pay equity laws in the country. Several similar laws already have been enacted, particularly on the West Coast and in various metropolitan areas across the U.S.

Additionally, the Golden State also recently required supervisors to undergo training against sexual harassment and bullying – topics expected to grow more popular within the larger national conversation about workplace harassment.

To learn more about California and its laws that gained nationwide impact, check out our posts dedicated to the golden state:


Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

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Posted in Blog, California, Compliance


by Caleb Masters

Author Bio: Caleb is the host of The HR Break Room and a Webinar and Podcast Producer at Paycom. With more than 5 years of experience as a published online writer and content producer, Caleb has produced dozens of podcasts and videos for multiple industries both local and online. Caleb continues to assist organizations creatively communicate their ideas and messages through researched talks, blog posts and new media. Outside of work, Caleb enjoys running, discussing movies and trying new local restaurants.

NCAA Tournament

Swish! 5 Talent Lessons I’ve Already Learned From the NCAA Tournament This March

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If you’re like me, you’re involved in the NCAA Tournament in some form or fashion. If you’re not actively watching the games, you are connected to the spectacle in one of two ways:

You filled out a bracket.

It’s team-building 101 in many organizations and goes something like this:

  • You complete your bracket.
  • It gets busted in the first weekend (meaning you have no chance to win after the first two rounds).
  • Then the inevitable happens: Someone with zero knowledge of basketball leads your office pool and just gives you a shrug when you ask about their secret. (Their secret, by the way, is that they don’t overestimate their knowledge of college basketball.)


You connected to the tournament via the inevitable Cinderella story.

This year’s Cinderella stories in are many, but none are better than history’s first No. 16 seed, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, knocking off a No. 1 seed, University of Virginia. If you didn’t hear about that upset, chances are you live under a rock and consume no media whatsoever. The upset was so perfect that Final Four legend turned color commentator Chris Weber noted that UMBC could stand for “U Must Be Cinderella.” Corny? Yes. Perfect? Also yes.

Swish! 8 Engagement Strategies to Drive Game Winning Performance, a bracketology webinar for management styles! 

Watercooler chat about basketball is hard to avoid in the month of March, and it’s also hard for HR pros like me to avoid turning it into a learning opportunity. With that in mind, here are five talent lessons I learned from the first weekend of The Big Dance:

1. Uniqueness wins because it’s hard to prepare for.

Whether it’s hoops or business, being different from others means you’re hard to prepare for. Syracuse deploys a defensive scheme called the 2-3 zone, while most other schools use a man-to-man approach. That means they are hard to prepare for, which was key when knocking off one of the tourney favorites, Michigan State. When you have a strategic plan that’s different than your competitors and the talent to pull it off, your organization will get unexpected wins – simply because you look and feel different from others.

2. Conservative approaches decrease your margin for error.

UMBC’s aforementioned upset of Virginia is a great example of this truth. The UMBC Retrievers play a conservative style on both offense and defense; they aren’t incredibly talented, but they execute their base strategy very well. That conservative approach wins a lot, but in a “lose one game and you’re out” type of environment, it can be deadly. The other team gets hot, and suddenly, you’re out.

The moral of the story? Even if you have a great team, never stop trying to upgrade the talent you have. Conservative approaches in basketball (the “grinding out wins” mentality) are used because they are the best way to win with average talent. The same thing is true in business.

3. Great individual talent can overcome huge disadvantages in company size and resources.

If you ever find yourself going up against Microsoft, Google or whoever the 800-pound gorilla is in your industry, never forget that a key hire with high talent can help you win more than your share, regardless of the product or service you’re providing. This is shown to be true time and time again in this month’s tournament. Whether it’s UMBC beating Virginia, or Buffalo taking down Arizona, once you step onto the court, only five players can play. Get yourself some great talent and unbelievable things can happen.

4. Matchups matter a lot – whether you’re competing on the court or responding to an RFP.

Every project, implementation or sales pitch is different. The most successful companies have managers who know how to get the most out of human capital – and tweak their approach based on the client or prospect in front of them. The most successful coaches do the same thing: Create new plans for each game, based on the challenges that are presented.

5. Great leadership is easy when you win, but more valuable when you lose.

It’s easy to look great as a coach when you win. But take a look at this compelling video of Virginia coach Tony Bennett after the UMBC loss. Being able to console your team members and show them the way forward after a crushing defeat, layoff or other negative event is key. Bennett does this with grace, which means he’s teaching and supporting in a way that transcends the game at hand. Your best managers do the same.

Every year, I’m reminded how much commonality there is between the NCAA Tourney and our lives as talent professionals.

I just wish my bracket weren’t busted after the first weekend.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, HR Management, Leadership

by Kris Dunn

Author Bio: Kris Dunn is a partner and CHRO at the Atlanta-based Kinetix, a national recruitment process outsourcing firm for growth companies. He is the founder of two industry-leading blogs – Fistful of Talent and The HR Capitalist – and has written more than 70 feature columns for Workforce Management magazine. He previously served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular.

How to Build a Harassment-Free Workplace Culture

How to Build a Harassment-Free Workplace Culture

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Sexual harassment quickly can deteriorate – and even derail – any organization, making anti-harassment training vital. However, most companies address the issue with employees by pushing training that is routine, which is often ineffective on its own. Effective prevention of harassment in the workplace starts with creating a culture that identifies and rejects unacceptable behaviors.

Although an HR department’s role is primarily to protect the interests of the company, adopting policies and procedures for harassment and discrimination can help align the interest of both the organization and its employees. What steps can businesses take to balance both interests?

Accountability from the top down

Workplace culture is the reflection of an organization’s values, behaviors and attitudes. A healthy culture is critical to attracting top talent, driving employee engagement and retention and improving performance.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s June 2016 report, “Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace,” leaders can take several steps to improve workplace culture surrounding harassment:

  1. Emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion. Harassment prevention based solely on a compliance mindset is unlikely to be successful.
  2. Conduct surveys to determine whether employees experience harassment in the workplace. The results should determine whether employees feel harassment – if it exists – is tolerated.
  3. Implement effective policies and procedures, then conduct trainings on them.
  4. Support the policies, procedures and training with resources, whether time or money. There is no better way to convey to employees that efforts are authentic and credible than by dedicating sufficient company resources.
  5. Vest any department, team or task force charged with creating and maintaining a harassment-free workplace with the authority to make decisions.


Training that does not simply check a box

A healthy culture of equality starts with the tone from leadership. Organizational leadership must take an active role in defining acceptable workplace behavior, ensuring these behaviors are part of the company’s stated values, and investing in programs to promote a positive environment.

Although most people could identify blatant harassment such as “quid pro quo” – that is, offering to give an employee something in return for the employee’s satisfaction of a sexual demand – not all forms of harassment are universally recognized.

Anywhere from 25% to 85% of men and women report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, according to the EEOC. The wide divergence in the percentage is due, in part, to a knowledge gap of what actually constitutes sex-based harassment. When asked whether they have experienced unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion at work, the percentage of women claiming harassment was much lower. However, when explained that sex-based harassment includes “gender harassment,” which are hostile behaviors without sexual interest, the percentage increased dramatically. Gender harassment differs from unwanted sexual advances in that the behavior aims to insult and reject a person based on gender stereotypes.

To create an environment free of harassment, employees throughout the organization must understand clearly conduct that is acceptable and that is not. Implementing interactive training on reporting procedures, unacceptable conduct and, more importantly, applying policies consistently – regardless of position within the organization – can dramatically improve culture.

A compelling business case

Put simply, employers should invest in preventing harassment not only because it is wrong, but because they have a legal obligation to do so. However, a deeper dive reveals organizations have an incentive beyond moral and legal to mitigate harassment: a financial one.

The direct costs to an organization are staggering. According to the EEOC, since 2010, employers have paid $698.7 million to employees alleging harassment through the agency’s administrative enforcement pre-litigation process. If a claim advances to litigation, the impact tends to grow even more substantial; for example, according to eBossWatch’s review of all harassment litigation in 2012, employers paid more than $356 million for workplace harassment complaints.

Although less measureable, the indirect costs can be considerable. Reports of pervasive sexual misconduct within high-profile organizations have dominated the headlines for months. Allowing – or in some cases, encouraging – a culture of harassment and discrimination has caused substantial reputational damage to those organizations.

More importantly, the human toll is significant. Employees subject to a hostile work environment can experience mental and physical harm. Depression, anxiety, chronic headaches and sleep, respiratory and cardiovascular problems have been linked to those experiencing harassment. When employees experience these conditions, companies suffer from decreased productivity and increased turnover.

When organizational leadership prioritizes creating a harassment-free workplace culture by emphasizing values of diversity and inclusion, implementing effective training, allocating sufficient resources and applying policies and procedures consistently, the interests of the company begin to align with those of its employees.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

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Posted in Blog, Compliance, Employment Law, Featured

Matthew Paque

by Matthew Paque

Author Bio: Matthew A. Paque is Paycom’s Director of Legal and Compliance. In this role, he is responsible for Paycom’s legal affairs including compliance and risk management. He has served in a variety of leadership and legal positions in both the private sector and in government. Before joining Paycom, Paque was an attorney at the law firm of McAfee & Taft and previously was Assistant General Counsel at Tronox a global mining and chemical company. He holds a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. from Oklahoma City University. Paque is also an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business.


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