Compensation and Benefits

Compensation and benefits topics – whether it’s minimum wage, workers’ compensation laws, or employee pay – if properly handled, can help you retain workers and recruit new ones.

Use our advice to craft independent contractor agreements that keep independent contractors – and your bosses – happy.

Judge Charles Hayes of the California Superior Court for the County of San Diego recently denied class certification to a group of taxi drivers who claimed they were improperly classified as independent contractors rather than employees.

Soon after Gary Lizalek was hired at a Wisconsin medical firm, he informed the company that he believed, as a matter of religious faith, that he was three separate beings. The company fired all three Lizaleks. He sued, saying the company failed to accommodate his religious beliefs.

Q. Carlos, a longtime Latino employee, frequently complains that he is paid less than his white, non-Latino counterparts. He blames this pay discrepancy on a previous supervisor who allegedly denied him several promotions in the late 1990s because of his national origin. I have heard about the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Could it affect us in this case?

This month's collection of real-world quick tips from American business leaders, brought to you by members of The Alternative Board.

The economy is a shambles, and employers are doing everything they can to stay in business. That includes terminations, salary and wage cuts and temporary furloughs. Nearly every one of those moves carries litigation risk. Have your company’s personnel policies and practices had a checkup lately? A comprehensive audit is one of the easiest ways to spot problems.

Under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, each paycheck that unfairly pays a worker less than it should is a discriminatory act. Now is the time to audit your pay policies. Involve your attorneys—to take advantage of attorney-client privilege protection while you correct any discriminatory practices you uncover.

Two years ago, Congress passed a three-step boost in the federal minimum wage. On July 24, the last of those increases takes effect, rising another 70 cents to $7.25 per hour. President Obama has advocated increasing the federal wage floor to $9.50 per hour by 2011.

If discrimination has always been a head-in-the-sand issue for you and your organization, it’s time to get serious about your policies and practices. Discrimination complaints of all types—race, sex, age, etc.—have climbed as steeply in the past year as the economy has fallen. Don’t get caught flat-footed.

You don’t have to tolerate foul language ... Customer gripe caused firing? Get it in writing ... Ledbetter Act already spurring more pay cases ... Track when you notify worker of firing ... No signature? Settlement may still be binding.

A bill before the Minnesota Legislature would allow the state to suspend prevailing wage requirements on state-funded construction projects if November budget projections show a 1% or greater deficit. State prevailing wage legislation is patterned after the federal Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federally funded construction projects to pay the “prevailing wage” for specific job classifications.