Employers Take Note: 2016 Employment Law Updates

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In 2016 there have been several changes to federal laws which impact employers in the state of Minnesota.  Employers need to be aware of these changes so that they can examine existing policies and practices to determine if changes are needed to address these legal changes.

NEW OVERTIME RULES

The United States Department of Labor released its final regulations modifying certain regulations related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The key change to the regulations is the salary requirement for exempt employees.   Effective December 1, 2016, in order to be classified as an employee exempt from overtime pay requirements, an employee must be paid a minimum of $913 per week/$47,476.00 per year.   The new requirement for the highly compensated employee exemption is $134,004 per year.  Exempt employees must also meet the duties test to qualify for exempt status.

The impact of this regulatory change is that employers need to revaluate all exempt employees to ensure that they are being paid the minimum salary requirements as of December 1, 2016.  If not, then they will need to change the employee’s classification.

NEW TRADE SECRET PROTECTION

The new federal “Defend Trade Secrets Act” (DTSA) was passed by Congress and signed into law on May 11, 2016.  The law provides employers with federal protection and access to federal courts to combat trade secret theft.   The DTSA also provides added enforcement mechanisms including allowing for ex parte seizures of misappropriated trade secrets.

The impact of this new law is that employers can use the law’s new legal protections and remedies to safeguard trade secrets.   In order to ensure the full protection and all available remedies, employers must give appropriate notice to all employees and independent contractors in any agreements governing the use of trade secret or other confidential information.  As a result, employers should revise their handbooks and agreements to reflect the notice requirements of the new law.

Moreover, from a practical standpoint, under the DTSA, employers can recover triple damages against those who willfully and maliciously misappropriate trade secrets.

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