Thursday, March 14, 2024

It’s long past time to Ctrl-Alt-Del the FLSA

The Fair Labor Standard Act is not a good law because employers have zero hope in complying with it.

I know this fact is true because I just read Bradford v. Team Pizza. In that case, the 6th Circuit rejected both the employer's and the plaintiffs' interpretation of the FLSA and punted the case back to the district court to interpret the statute instead.

The issue was a fairly narrow one — how should an employer reimburse pizza-delivery drivers for the cost of providing their own vehicles for work. The plaintiffs argued for the IRS's published mileage rate; the employer argued for a "reasonable approximation" of the drivers' costs.

The issue matters for both. If an employer requires its employees to provide their own "tools" (such as a car) for work, the employer must reimburse them for enough of the cost to ensure that their hourly rate does not fall below the minimum wage. For minimum-wage employees, this rule means the reimbursement of 100% of the employees' cost.

Employers deserve to know how much they need to pay their employees. Employees deserve to know how much pay they should expect to receive.

The FLSA is not a quality law if they have to jump through four years of litigation and spend hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more) just to answer those most basic of questions.