Weekly Legislative Update - January 20, 2020

New Jersey Enacts Warranty Rights Bill
TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed into law a bill that requires new vehicle manufacturers to send to New Jersey vehicle purchasers or lessees a notice of their warranty rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

New Jersey Senate Bill 1712 passed both the New Jersey House and Senate unanimously, according to the Auto Care Association (ACA), one of many aftermarket associations that supported the bill.
Groups such as the ACA and the Tire Industry Association (TIA) long have sought protection from the actions of OE manufacturers that stipulate that auto service or repair at independent repair shops voids vehicle owners' warranty rights.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a federal law, forbids OE manufacturers from doing this.
"This is another positive step toward educating consumers nationwide on their warranty rights and their ability to get their car serviced at the facility of their choice," Tom Tucker, ACA director, state government affairs, said.
TIA CEO Roy Littlefield III said his association worked closely with the New Jersey Service Station Association toward passage of the bill.
"After our experience in Maryland, where one house passed a Magnuson-Moss bill but another didn't, we think it's phenomenal that this bill passed both houses in New Jersey unanimously," Mr. Littlefield said. "We are very excited about this."
New Jersey is the second state to pass Magnuson-Moss legislation. The first was Connecticut in 2015, Mr. Tucker said.
Maryland will be reintroducing their version of the Magnuson-Moss legislation again this legislative session and TIA plans to support the bill.

Magnuson Moss Bill Signed By Governor

Great News! Last week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 1712, which would require vehicle manufacturers to send to consumers a notice within 90-days of a new car lease or purchase of their warranty rights under the federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. This bill passed both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature with broad bi-partisan support. The bill passed the Senate (31-0) and passed the Assembly (74-0), showing the overwhelming support for this consumer notification in the car buying process. In addition, the vehicle manufacturers will have to place the same notice online or in the owner's manual. This is only the second bill requiring consumer notification of Magnuson Moss rights to be passed in the country.
 
Many thanks to our coalition partners who worked tirelessly over the past two-years to get this bill passed and lobbying team who helped negotiate, advocate and push all levers of influence to get this done. It would be careless to not highlight our allies from start to finish in this battler. Special thanks and appreciation to Sal Risalvato and Eric Blomgreen from the New Jersey C-Store, Automotive Association, AAA Automotive, Roy Littlefield from the Tire industry Association, Andreas Heiss of LKQ Corporation, Dennis Hart, Ed Waters and Ben Graziano from State Street Associates. Also, many thanks to all of the Auto Care Association and TIA members who advocated and supported our grassroots efforts to pass this bill.
 
To conclude, this bill takes effect immediately!

New Minimum Wage Rates Now in Effect in 21 States
 
With a new year comes new minimum wage rates. As of January 1, 2020, the minimum wage increased in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington. For more information, click HERE

Three New Opinion Letters from the Wage and Hour Division
The U.S. Department of Labor (the Department) announced that it issued three new opinion letters that address compliance issues related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). An opinion letter is an official, written opinion by the Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the person or entity that requested the letter.
 
The opinion letters issued today are:
  • FLSA2020-1 : Addressing calculating overtime pay for a non-discretionary lump sum bonus paid at the end of a multi-week training period.
  • FMLA2020-1-A : Addressing whether a combined general health district must count the employees of the County in which the health district is located for the purpose of determining FMLA eligibility for its employees.
  • FLSA2020-2 : Addressing whether per-project payments satisfy the salary basis test for exemption.
Users can search Wage and Hour Division opinion letters Hour Division opinion letters by keyword, year, topic, and a variety of other filters.
As part of Department-wide compliance assistance initiatives, the Wage and Hour Division encourages  workers and employers to submit requests for opinion letters
 
Please note that the Division exercises its discretion in determining whether and how it will respond to each request.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Rule To Update FLSA's Joint Employer Regulations
The U.S. Department of Labor (Department) announced a final rule to update the regulations interpreting joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). They have not been meaningfully updated in over 60 years. The FLSA requires covered employers to pay their employees at least the federal minimum wage for every hour worked and overtime for every hour worked over 40 in a workweek. Under the FLSA, an employee may have, in addition to his or her employer, one or more joint employers-additional individuals or entities who are jointly and severally liable with the employer for the employee's wages.
 
In the final rule, the Department provides a four-factor balancing test for determining FLSA joint employer status in situations where an employee performs work for one employer that simultaneously benefits another person. The balancing test examines whether the potential joint employer:
*  hires or fires the employee;
*  supervises and controls the employee's work schedule or conditions of employment to a substantial degree;
* determines the employee's rate and method of payment; and
*  maintains the employee's employment records.
 
The final rule also clarifies when additional factors may be relevant to a determination of FLSA joint employer status, and identifies certain business models, contractual agreements with the employer, and business practices that do not make joint employer status more or less likely.
These revisions will add certainty regarding what business practices may result in joint employer status. This rule promotes greater uniformity among court decisions by providing a clearer interpretation of FLSA joint employer status. These benefits will in turn improve employers' ability to remain in compliance with the FLSA and will reduce litigation costs.

This final rule does not address "joint employer" status under other federal employment laws, such as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The effective date of the final rule is March 16, 2020.
More information about the final rule is available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa/2020-joint-employment