Category: Wage and Hour Disputes

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers: Oxford Comma Overtime Dispute

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A group of truck drivers recently filed a class action lawsuit alleging that they were not paid overtime as required by state law. The trucking company countered that they were exempt from coverage under the law. The entire case hinged on the controversial use (or lack thereof) of the Oxford comma. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled in favor of the truck drivers, awarding them an estimated $10 million.

By way of background, the Oxford comma, also called the serial comma, is used to separate the last two items in a list. For example, people in favor of the Oxford comma would write “apples, oranges, and pears.” People who dislike the Oxford comma would write “apples, oranges and pears.”

In Maine, where this matter occurred, workers must be paid time and a half of their normal rate of pay for each hour worked after 40 hours. However, there are exemptions. The Maine law says that overtime rules do not apply to those who work in: “the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipping or distribution of (various food items).”

The three dairy delivery truck drivers who filed the lawsuit distribute perishable foods, but they do not pack the goods. The ambiguity with the language of the law is whether the word “packing” modifies both “shipping” and “distribution,” or just “shipping.” If there were a comma after the word shipping, it would have been clear that the delivery drivers were entitled to the overtime pay.

The court of appeals ruled that the absence of a comma produced enough uncertainty to rule in favor of the truck drivers, and reversed the ruling of the court below. The law followed the guidelines set forth in the Maine Legislative Drafting Manual, which explicitly instructs lawmakers not to use the Oxford comma, but does note that legislators should use caution if an item in the series is modified.

The delivery drivers earned between $46,800 and $52,000 a year without overtime. They worked an average of 12 extra hours per week. Although only three drivers filed the class-action lawsuit, 75 drivers will split the award.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Clients in Wage and Overtime Disputes

The Philadelphia overtime dispute lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green represent individuals in wage and hour lawsuits and those who believe they are owed overtime pay. To learn more about how we can help you, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation in our Philadelphia offices.

Philadelphia Wage Dispute Lawyers: Future of the Overtime Rule

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Last year, the Department of Labor issued a new ruling for overtime pay extending the maximum salary threshold a worker can earn and still be eligible for overtime to $47,500.  The new rule, which was set to take effect on December 1, 2016, would enable approximately 4 million more workers to become eligible for overtime pay.  However, in November of 2016, a federal court judge in Texas temporarily blocked the rule, holding that it does not comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act on the grounds that the Labor Department may not decide which workers qualify for overtime based only on their salary.  The Department of Justice under President Obama appealed this decision.

With the law temporarily blocked and a new administration in place, the future of the overtime rule is uncertain.  The federal court in Texas has given the DOJ until May 1, 2017 to file a brief stating its position.  Aside from the uncertainty of whether the DOJ pursues its appeal, another issue is whether the Department of Labor intends to simply repeal the new rule, or issue an alternative rule.  The current salary threshold below which workers qualify for overtime wages is just $23,660 per year.  Millions of workers will be impacted by the future of the overtime rule and their fates hang in the balance.

Philadelphia Wage Dispute Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Employees in Overtime and Wage Disputes

If you have an employment concern or wage dispute issue, the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. have the experience to help you achieve an optimal outcome. Call 215-574-0600 to schedule a consultation about your case or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia and we serve clients in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers: Philadelphia Passes Wage Equity Bill

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In an effort to close the wage gap between men and women, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney recently signed a bill preventing employers from asking applicants about their salary history. The Wage Equity Bill makes Philadelphia the first major American city to ban employers from asking candidates what they were paid at previous jobs. Companies in violation of the new ordinance face fines of up to $2,000.

The bill, first introduced in September 2016, is designed to eliminate the income disparity between men and women. According to a 2015 United States Census Bureau report, women make 79 cents for every dollar that men make. This discrepancy exists regardless of experience, education, or industry. The Pew Research Center also reports that as of 2015, women earn 83% of men’s hourly wages.

The rationale behind the bill is that if women are paid less than what they deserve at beginning of their careers, and potential employers base their salary on previous jobs, they will never catch up to their male counterparts. Though similar legislation already exists in Massachusetts, Philadelphia is the first major city to ban salary inquiries. New York State and Pennsylvania are also considering passing wage equity bills.

The City Council passed the bill with a unanimous vote, but it is already experiencing some pushback from one of the city’s largest employers – Comcast. The media giant, with headquarters in Center City Philadelphia, has already vowed to challenge the ban in court on grounds that it violates employers’ free speech. The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce also opposes the bill, saying it gives the perception that the city is “anti-business,” and discourages new employers from setting up shop in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Clients in Wage Disputes

The team of Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green understands the complexities of employment law matters. Our attorneys represent employees in all aspects of employment law, including wage disputes. Call our Center City Philadelphia offices today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

We serve clients throughout the Greater Philadelphia area including Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and the towns of Bala Cynwyd, Merion Station, Wynnewood, Darby, Narberth, Upper Darby, Sharon Hill, Cheltenham, Clifton Heights, Folcroft, Lansdowne, Drexel Hill, Elkins Park, Havertown, Glenolden, Ardmore, Gladwyne, Wyncote, Norwood, Holmes and Haverford, as well as New Jersey.

Philadelphia Wage Dispute Lawyers: Third Circuit Rules That Overtime Class Action Cannot Proceed In Arbitration

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Recently, the Third Circuit weighed in on the issue of whether it is up to courts or arbitrators to decide if a class action lawsuit should be adjudicated in court, or in an arbitral forum. This case also dealt with the issue of whether an employment agreement that is silent on the issue of class arbitration permits employees to proceed on a class-wide basis on that basis. In Opalinski v. Robert Half International, the 3rd Circuit sided against the plaintiffs who wished to proceed on a class wide basis in arbitration. The case involved employees of the placement firm, Robert Half.

The plaintiffs were two former staffing managers at Robert Half in New Jersey. The men claim that they were improperly classified as exempt from overtime pay, and wrongfully denied such pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The defense argued that when the men signed their employment contracts, they waived their right to resolve employment disputes in court. Their contracts provided that such disputes must be submitted to arbitration. However, their contracts were silent in regards to class wide arbitration. The two men brought an action on behalf of themselves and other putative class members who were denied overtime pay.

Shortly after filing the claim, a United States Dihttps://overtimestrict Court judge granted the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration of the employees’ individual claims. However, the district court determined that the arbitral forum had jurisdiction to decide whether class wide arbitration was permissible.  The arbitrator found that such claims could proceed on a class basis in arbitration – and when the defendant sought to overturn this ruling in district court, the trial court sided with the plaintiffs.  Subsequently, the defendant appealed this ruling and the 3rd Circuit reversed and remanded, finding that the decision lies with the courts. The United States Supreme Court then declined to hear the case on appeal. After the case was remanded, the district court granted Robert Half’s motion to dismiss, finding that parties cannot be compelled to submit to class wide arbitration unless there is a contractual basis for concluding such.

The plaintiffs appealed this decision yet again, and the 3rd Circuit recently ruled against them, finding it had already “explicitly decided,” in a precedential opinion in this same case, that the question of arbitrability of class claims is for the court, not the arbitrator, to decide.

Philadelphia Wage Dispute Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Clients in All Types of Wage Dispute Cases

At Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, we routinely handle FLSA claims involving unpaid overtime. Our respected Philadelphia wage dispute lawyers are prepared to answer whatever questions you may have. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.




Philadelphia Employment Lawyers Discuss the Pennsylvania Commissioned Sales Representative Act

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The Pennsylvania Commissioned Sales Representative Act, 43 Pa. Stat. § 1471 et seq. (“PCSRA”) provides statutory remedies for certain sales representatives when they are not paid timely commissions. Under the PCSRA, a “principal shall pay a sales representative all commissions due at the time of termination within 14 days after termination” and “all commissions that become due after termination within 14 days of the date such commissions become due.” 43 Pa. Stat. §§ 1473–74. If a principal “willfully” violates these provisions, then the sales representative may bring a civil action to collect all unpaid commissions plus exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees. Id. § 1475. The Act thus governs the payment of commissions owed by a “principal” to a “sales representative,” and a defendant can only be liable if the plaintiff is a “sales representative” as that term is used in the Act.

A key factor in determining whether you have a claim under the PCSRA is to understand how the law defines the terms “sales representative” and “principal”.

The PCSRA defines the term “sales representative” as follows:

“Sales representative.” A person who contracts with a principal to solicit wholesale orders from retailers rather than consumers and who is compensated, in whole or in part, by commission. The term does not include one who places orders or purchases for his own account for resale or one who is an employee of a principal.

Id. § 1471.

Thus, a “sales representative” is someone who solicits wholesale orders from “retailers” rather than “consumers.”

A “principal” is defined by the PCSRA as any person who does all of the following:

(1) Engages in the business of manufacturing, producing, importing or distributing a product for sale to customers who purchase such products for resale.

(2) Utilizes sales representatives to solicit orders for such product.

(3) Compensates sales representatives, in whole or in part, by commission.


Finally, a sales representative should be cautioned against bringing a meritless claim against a principal under the PCSRA.  If judgment is entered for the principal and the court determines that the action was brought frivolously, then the principal will be awarded attorneys’ fees and costs. Id. § 1475.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Sales Commissioned Representatives in Claims to Recover Unpaid Commissions

If you are owed unpaid commissions, you may have a valid claim under the Pennsylvania Commissioned Sales Representative Act, among other potential causes of action. Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green will seek maximum compensation for your damages. To learn more about how we may be able to help you, call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online today.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers: Employer’s Overtime Obligations

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The Third Circuit recently reversed a lower court’s decision in an overtime dispute under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and determined that employees should be awarded overtime for their time spent putting on and taking off uniforms and providing “shift relief” reports before and after shifts.

The ruling involved the company Dupont in the case Smiley v. Dupont. The company argued that because it paid employees for two breaks and lunchtime during a 12-hour shift despite not being required to, that it was exempted from owing overtime for the amounts claimed by its employees.  The Dupont employees claimed to be owed overtime for time related to changing into their required uniform and while performing shift relief related duties.

The Third Circuit found that there was no language in the FLSA that allows for this type of “swap” or offset of the duty to pay employees overtime under the above-mentioned circumstances.

This Ruling Could Have Far-Reaching Effects for Employees

This win for employees has larger implications that will require employers to follow the FLSA more closely and could provide more opportunities for overtime pay.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Employees in Wage and Hour Disputes 

If you are entitled to overtime pay and were not paid, or your work conditions have changed, contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600, or contact us online to discuss your rights.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers | Uber Minimum Wage Complaint

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EDPA Denies Uber’s Motion to Dismiss Complaint for Failure to Pay Minimum Wage

On October 7, 2016, Judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied Defendant Uber’s Motion to Dismiss a Complaint filed by Uber drivers suing Uber over its failure to pay minimum wage. Plaintiffs brought the Complaint on behalf of all Philadelphia UberBlack drivers. Razak v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. 16-573, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139668 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 7, 2016)

The Court agreed with Plaintiffs that they were misidentified by Uber as independent contractors.  The Court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs by classifying them as employees under the FLSA, subjecting them to the Federal Minimum Wage standards.

Plaintiffs allege that Uber failed to pay them the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as required by the FLSA. In response, Uber claimed that Plaintiffs’ Complaint was insufficient because they failed to identify their pay rates and waged earned in a work week. Judge Baylson responded in his opinion that under the FLSA the employers are supposed to keep records of the work week information for employees. Judge Baylson further explained that while this was a close case because Plaintiffs did not specifically provide weeks where their wage fell below the Federal minimum wage, there was enough evidence to provide a reasonable inference to the court that Plaintiffs were not paid minimum wage. Specifically mentioned was the fact that Uber automatically deducts certain expenses each week regardless if the driver earned enough money to cover these expenses. Therefore, Uber’s Motion to Dismiss was denied and further proceedings will commence.

For more information, call the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pinus & Green, P.C. today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers discuss the Growing Problem of Classifying Employees as Independent Contractors

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Employers continue to face legal trouble over whether some of their employees are independent contractors. From an employer’s perspective, this is an important issue with financial consequences. If a worker is an independent contractor, the employer does not bear the costs that they would with other employees. For instance, the employer is not required to pay minimum wage or their share of social security. Recent examples of employees bearing their own costs as independent contractors include FedEx drivers buying or leasing their own vans and Uber drivers paying for their own vehicles, gas and other expenses.


There does not appear to be an end to this issue as workers continue to contest their classification as independent contractors throughout the country. In 2015, FedEx settled an independent contractor mislabeling case for $228 million. Uber also faced an independent contractor mislabeling suit and settled for $100 million with 450,000 drivers in Massachusetts and California. Uber continues to have legal issues with the misclassification of drivers throughout the country as a putative class action of drivers from the remaining 48 states was filed in Illinois Federal Court.


While companies like Uber and FedEx are facing these ongoing legal battles, the Department of Labor attempted to resolve the issue. In July of 2015, the DOL provided some guidance to help employers determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. According to the Department of Labor, the factors to be considered are:


  • The extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business.
  • The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss depending on his or her managerial skills.
  • The extent of the relevant investments of the employer and workers.
  • Whether the work performed requires special skills and initiative.
  • The permanency of the relationship.
  • The degree of control exercised or retained by the employer.

While these factors are useful in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the DOL rejects a mechanical approach and no single factor is determinative. This issue continues to be very much unsettled and a resolution in the future can have important consequences on both employers and employees with regard to overtime, insurance and taxes.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green represent clients in matters of employment law. For more information call  215-574-0600 or contact us online.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers: Appeal in Overtime Pay Dispute

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago handed down a surprising verdict recently when it ruled that the Epic Systems Corporation headquartered in Wisconsin was in violation of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) that protects the rights of employees to unionize or bring collective action against their employer. According to the Court’s decision, Epic Systems violated the NLRA by requiring employees to sign an arbitration clause that mandated they rely solely on arbitration to settle wage and hour disputes.

Epic Systems is a medical software company that sent out an email in 2014 that required employees to agree to internal mediation for all wage and hour disputes, ultimately denying them their right to bring collective action against the company. Epic Systems stated in the agreement that the employee’s decision to acknowledge receipt of the email and continue employment with the company indicated that they agreed to the arbitration agreement. When an employee of the company later filed a suit in federal court against Epic Systems for denied overtime wages, the company referred to a previous U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed a group of credit card companies the right to use arbitration as a means to resolve internal conflict.

In 2013, the United States Court of Appeals in Louisiana upheld a 2011 Supreme Court decision that ruled the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 gave employers the right to use arbitration to settle claims against the employer. The recent verdict handed down by the Chicago Court of Appeals is in direct opposition to this decision, clearly stating that the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 overrules the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act. This dispute could mean the U.S. Supreme Court will have to revisit the issue if Epic Systems decides to appeal the Chicago Court of Appeals decision.

As more and more employers include arbitration agreements in their employment contracts, many have argued that the practice has the potential to conceal unfair labor practices. In a survey conducted by The New York Times, many employees reported that they “give up” on bringing disputes to their employers when they are prohibited from doing so collectively. Without the power of numbers and the evidence that they bring to support claims, many believe they do not stand a chance of a fair resolution.

Epic Systems Corporation has 90 days to appeal the Chicago decision. As of yet, the company has not indicated that they will pursue bringing the issue to the United States Supreme Court.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Use Experience and Knowledge for Successful Litigation

Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. have been serving clients throughout Pennsylvania for over 50 years. Our team of dedicated has a long history of successful outcomes in a vast array of varied employment law cases.

Call us today at 215-574-0600, or contact us online to see how we can help you with your employment legal issues. Our offices are conveniently located in Center City Philadelphia, allowing us to serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers: On-Call Pay Constitutes Retirement-Covered Compensation

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In Czarnecki v. State Employees’ Ret. Bd., the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that a physician’s compensation for on-call time should be included in the calculation of his retirement benefits. 1225 C.D. 2015, 2016 WL 3615573 (Pa. Cmmw. July 6, 2016). Thomas Czarnecki was a Staff Physician of the Department of Public Welfare at the Harrisburg State Hospital from 1981 up until his retirement in 2005. Czarnecki volunteered to provide on-call service to ensure 24-hour patient care. The Department ultimately stopped reporting Czarnecki’s on-call hours to the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System, which resulted in Czarnecki not receiving retirement credit for his on-call service for the five years leading up to his retirement.

After filing a complaint regarding the calculation of his retirement benefits, the State Employees’ Retirement Board ruled that Czarnecki’s on-call time should not be used in calculating his final average salary, which is used to determine the amount of an employee’s retirement benefits. On review of the Board’s decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania reversed and held that on-call pay does constitute retirement covered compensation since the payments for on-call service were both regularly made and contractually owed. The Court concluded that the State Employees’ Retirement System erred in excluding it from the calculation of Czarnecki’s retirement benefits and thus remanded the case for a recalculation of his benefits.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Clients in Wage Disputes

Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green represent clients in a variety of employment-related legal disputes. To discuss a possible claim, call 215-574-0600 or contact us online.