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An Employee by Any Other Name: Nail Technicians Misclassified a Independent Contractors
03/05/2018
By: Travis Hanson

Recently, the Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed the district court and the Kansas Department of Labor’s (KDOL) finding that nail technicians at a salon were employees rather than independent contractors for unemployment-tax contribution purposes. This case has important tips for handling classification issues in any industry.

Review of the Record
In 2014, Leander and Hongmin (Amy) Fisher began doing business as Amy’s Spa Services, LLC (the Spa). The Spa classified all of its nail technicians as independent contractors. The KDOL audited the business to determine whether the Spa properly classified the technicians for unemployment-tax withholdings. For unemployment-tax contributions in Kansas, an individual is an employee if the employer has the right to control the manner and means of the work performed; whether the employer exercises that right is inconsequential.
The auditor reviewed the Spa’s independent contractor agreement, interviewed three nail technicians and Leander Fisher, and reviewed some of the Spa’s financial documents. The auditor’s review of the independent contractor agreement stated that the parties intended to form an independent contractor relationship. Under the agreement, the Spa purported to require the technicians to clean their workstations, supply the tools necessary to complete their jobs, and gave the technicians discretion to set their own prices, as long as they did not undermine the Spa’s prices. The agreement also provided that the Spa would receive all payments that were later distributed to the technicians, and that      Continue Reading...
 
A Freaky Non-Compete Non-Sequitur
11/4/2014
By: Donald Berner

Recently, a restaurant made headlines for something other than its food.  A restaurant employee leaked a version of the store's non-compete agreement and the document raised some eyebrows.  Specifically, the leaked document provided that employees would not work at any restaurants within three miles of a store if the other restaurant "derives more than 10% of its revenue from selling submarine, hero-type, deli-style, pita and/or wrapped or rolled sandwiches.:  Although there was no discussion about whether the store ever tried to enforce the non-compete agreement, it does raise some interesting questions for employers to consider when it comes to restrictive covenants like a non-compete.

The first question is most likely whether the agreement is enforceable.  Like most legal questions, the answer is "it depends".  In order to reach a more definitive answer there are a number of questions to ask.  In what state was the store located?  In what state is the dispute arising?  Was it a delivery driver, food preparation staff, hostess, waitress, or store manager that signed the agreement?  The answers to these types of questions can make a big difference and can determine whether the agreement is enforceable.

Another common question related to a non-compete agreement is why?  Employees who are asked to sign non-compete agreements frequenly ask employers why such an agreement is necessary.  A court considering enforcement of a non-compete is likely to wonder the same thing.  While employer responses may vary, typcially the goal is to protect confidential information, trade secrets, customer lists, etc.  The application of the non-compete to the types of concerns can vary dramatically depending on the employee and the specific position.  Employers should      Continue Reading...

 
Beware of the Devil in the Details—What Employers Should Do and Need to Know about the Kansas Wage Payment Act Amendment
05/21/2013
By: Boyd Byers

Last month we told you about the amendment to the Kansas Wage Payment (KWPA), which goes into effect on July 1. In short, the changes greatly expand the circumstances under which employers may make payroll withholdings or deductions without violating the KWPA. To maximize your organization’s ability to avail itself to these new provisions, you should consider having employees (at least the non-exempt ones) sign agreements prospectively authorizing deductions to cover any past or future payroll overpayments, loans, advances, or failure to return or pay for employer-provided merchandise. But be careful in applying your new rights under the KWPA to exempt employees.  Even if making a certain deduction is allowed by Kansas law, doing so could present potential liability under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Read on to understand why.

Under the KWPA amendment, employers are now authorized to make the following deductions and withholdings.
 
First, upon a signed written agreement between the employer and employee, an employer may deduct or withhold an employee's wages for the following purposes:
 
  1. as repayment of a loan or advance the employer made to the employee during the course of and within the scope of employment;
  2. to recover a payroll overpayment; and
  3. to compensate the employer for the replacement cost or unpaid balance of the cost of the employer's merchandise or uniforms purchased by the employee. 
Second, upon providing written notice and explanation to the employee (even if there is no written agreement),      Continue Reading...
 
Kansas Wage Payment Law Amended--No Foolin'
04/05/13
By: Boyd Byers

On April 1, Governor Brownback signed into law a bill that gives employers more latitude to make payroll deductions to recoup overpayments, loans, and property provided to employees. Kansas employers have long pushed for this change. The bill, Senate Substitute for HB 2022, becomes effective on July 1. Read on to understand these revisions and what you can do to maximize their benefit to your organization.

Under current Kansas law, an employer may withhold wages in only limited circumstances, such as: (1) when specifically required by law (such withholdings for payroll taxes or garnishments); (2) for healthcare; (3) deposits into a retirement plan; and (4) when the employer has a signed authorization from the employee for a lawful purpose "accruing to the employee's benefit." Old Kansas Department of Labor regulations take a narrow view on what type of deductions accrue to the employee's benefit.

The revisions to the Kansas Wage Payment Act expand the circumstances under which employers may make payroll withholdings or deductions. Upon a signed written agreement between the employer and employee, an employer may deduct or withhold an employee's wages for the following purposes:
  1. as repayment of a loan or advance the employer made to the employee during the course of and within the scope of employment;
  2. to recover a payroll overpayment; and
  3. to compensate the employer for the replacement cost or unpaid balance of the cost of the employer's merchandise or uniforms purchased by the employee.

In addition, upon providing      Continue Reading...

 
Can You Make Your Employees Give More Notice Than the Pope?
03/13/2013
By: Boyd Byers
Pope Benedict XVI recently did something no pontiff has done for 600 hundred years: He resigned. And when he did, he provided the Catholic Church with only two weeks’ notice of his departure.
 
Employees often leave their employer with little or no notice. This can leave the organization in a lurch, particularly if the employee holds a key position, has a unique skill set, or has institutional knowledge others lack.  
 
Employers sometimes ask whether they can require their employees to give advance notice before they quit. But perhaps the more-important question is: Do you really want to? 
 
Absent an agreement to the contrary, employment in Kansas is at will. This means that either the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship at any time, for any or no reason, with or without notice. Employers are typically happy about this arrangement. 
 
So think twice and get legal counsel before imposing a rule requiring employees to give two weeks or other advance notice of resignation, as this may trigger a reciprocal obligation to pay employees for the same notice period when you let them go, or otherwise alter the at-will nature of the relationship. If you do decide to enter into a contract with an executive or other key employee that requires advance notice of resignation, consider whether and how you will enforce the provision if the employee welches on the deal. Remember that the Kansas Wage Payment Act (KWPA) prohibits withholding an employee’s earned wages as a set off or credit toward other debts the employee      Continue Reading...
 
Possible Federal Relief for Employer Protection of Trade Secrets
08/13/2012
By: Donald Berner

Last month a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to provide a limited federal cause of action for employer use in protecting a company's trade secrets from misappropriation. The Protecting American Trade Secrets and Innovation Act of 2012 was introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

The goal of the bill is to provide a federal cause of action to employers attempting to file litigation to protect a company's trade secrets. As currently structured, the new legislation would provide this cause of action under a limited set of circumstances. The current option for an employer is to bring claims in state courts with the underlying law varying significantly from state to state. This variance in state law can create complications and sometimes make it difficult for companies to effectively defend their confidential information. 

Stay tuned as this bill makes its way through the legislative process.

To track the legislation, click here.

 


Authors
Don Berner Image
Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
Boyd Byers Image
Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
Jason Lacey Image
Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
Additional Sources
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Subscribe to Kansas Legislative Insights Image