Mississippi News & Analysis

  • 5th Circuit says not so fast to fast-food chain after jury-duty firing

    We have written many times about Mississippi's adherence to the at-will employment doctrine, which provides that an employer may terminate an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all, as long as the reason is not illegal. Until recently, Mississippi has recognized only three exceptions to the doctrine. An employer may not terminate an employee who refuses to participate in a criminally illegal act, reports a criminally illegal act of his employer, or legally stores a gun in her car on company property in a publicly accessible parking area.

  • Is day-rate payment sufficient to satisfy the requisite salary basis test for FLSA exemptions?

    To qualify as exempt under the administrative, executive, professional, or highly compensated employee exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employee must be paid on a "salary basis" at a rate of not less than $455 per week. To be paid on a salary basis, she must regularly receive on a weekly—or less frequent—basis a predetermined amount. The 5th Circuit recently held that a guaranteed day rate exceeding the $455 threshold meets the salary basis requirement, even though it isn't calculated on a weekly or less frequent basis. Let's take a look.

  • Changing laws, attitudes pushing employers to explore alternatives to drug tests

    Nobody wants an impaired person on the job, especially in a safety- sensitive position. But how can a supervisor know if an employee who seems a little off is high? And—perhaps more important—how can an employer screen applicants to reduce the chance of hiring someone who is likely to come to work impaired? The first thought may be to use drug testing, but that option isn't as simple as it once was.

  • Looking to add an innovative benefit? Student loan assistance an option

    On a quest to recruit top talent, many employers are getting creative with perks and benefits. Free food and ping-pong tables are nice. So is a generous employer match on a 401(k). But many employees may not get too excited about perks and retirement benefits when they're struggling with student loan debt. And it's that financial burden that is leading employers to explore ways to ease the pain for their debt-ridden workers.

  • Required time is compensable time

    Q If a company asks employees to punch in everyday 15 minutes before their shift starts, it totals 41.25 hours for a 40-hour workweek. Can it not pay them the 1.25 hours they give the company every week? Is this legal?

  • Young love thwarted at the altar—but it ain't no country music song

    But if it was, it would start out something like this:

  • Planes, trains, and automobiles: the compensability of overnight travel time

    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a nuanced law that can create legal pitfalls when employers are unfamiliar with all of its intricate requirements. One area of confusion is the compensability of the time a nonexempt employee spends traveling to a location that requires an overnight stay away from home. Let's take a closer look.

  • Long-stalled OT rule sparks questions beyond where to set salary threshold

    It was spring 2016 when employers learned specifics about what they thought would be a final rule from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) determining which of their employees would be exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But shortly before the rule was to take effect in December 2016, employers saw it scrapped by a federal judge who maintained the DOL overstepped in making a rule that so drastically changed the salary threshold for exemption. Back to square one and with a new administration in office, the DOL came up with a more moderate change.

  • Documenting deficiencies: Performance problems defeat employee's FMLA claims

    A recent employer-friendly decision from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Mississippi employers) is a good reminder of the importance of documenting discipline and disruptive behavior. In this case, the employer discharged an employee the day after he was approved to take leave for high blood pressure. The employee alleged the employer unlawfully interfered with his Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights and unlawfully retaliated against him for requesting leave. Thanks to good documentation, the employer was able to defend against problematic timing between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. Let's take a look at what happened and what lesson you can learn.

  • Going through the motions when an applicant is unqualified

    Q Based on the "ban-the-box" law, we removed the criminal history question from our employment application, although we still ask it once an applicant has an interview set up. We are hiring for a position in which the employee will work with troubled youths, and we received an application from an individual who our manager knows has a criminal history. Should we interview him as we would anyone else, even though we know his criminal history will prevent him from obtaining the position? Or can we reject his application based on the sensitive nature of the job?