In furtherance of a practice reinstituted earlier this year, on August 28, 2018 the DOL’s Wage Hour Division (WHD) issued four new opinion letters covering FLSA topics. The current administration began that practice when, in January of this year, it reinstated seventeen opinion letters originally issued during the George W. Bush administration but subsequently withdrawn during the Obama administration. The WHD then issued three new letters in April, prior to last week’s issuance. “Opinion letters help provide greater clarity for American job creators and employees,” commented Acting Wage and Hour Division Administrator Bryan Jarrett, and “show the ongoing efforts of the Department to provide the tools employers need to comply with the law and protect workers.”
The most recent opinion letters address (with links to the letters themselves):
FLSA 2018-20: Whether time spent by employees voluntarily attending benefit fairs and undertaking wellness activities such as biometric screening, weight-loss programs and use of an employer-provided gym, are considered compensable working time (it is not).
FLSA 2018-21: Whether 29 U.S.C. § 207(i), the commissioned sales employee overtime exemption, applies to a company’s sales force that that sells an internet payment software platform (under the facts presented, it does). Notably, this opinion letter is the first acknowledgement by the DOL of the Supreme Court’s recent holding in Encino Motorcars LLC v. Navarro, 138 S. Ct. 1134 (2018), that FLSA exemptions are to be given a “fair reading,” rather than a “narrow construction” as previously applied by the Department and many courts.
FLSA 2018-22: Whether members of a non-profit organization who serve as credentialing examination graders for one to two weeks per year, and who are not paid for their services but are reimbursed for their expenses, may properly be treated as volunteers rather than employees (under the facts presented, they may).
FLSA 2018-23: Whether 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(27), exempting from overtime employees who work at a movie theater establishment, likewise applies to those employees who work at dining services operated by, and accessible only within, the theater (it does).