Articles Posted in Employment & Labor

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By Joseph G. Ballstaedt

One of the common exemptions to the overtime requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act is the “Motor Carrier Exemption.” This exemption applies to employees who: 1) work for a motor carrier or motor private carrier, 2) are drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders, or mechanics whose duties affect the safety of operation of motor vehicles in transportation on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce; and 3) are not covered by what is known as “the small vehicle exception.” Each of these three items is discussed in more depth below.

  • Employed by a Motor Carrier or Motor Private Carrier
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By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

The saying that the only constant in life is change, is as applicable to estate-planning as it is to any other aspect of your life. There is no doubt that as time goes on change will occur in your life. But, change doesn’t have to unsettle your estate planning. with a solid estate plan any of the changes that occur can be anticipated and can be planned for. Here are 4 tips for how you can prepare your Estate Planning to deal with the changes in your life.

1. PLAN FOR EXPECTED CHANGES

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By Joseph G. Ballstaedt

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are generally required to pay employees overtime pay, which is one-and-a-half times the regular pay. Overtime pay kicks in after an employee works 40 hours in any given week. There are several common exemptions to the overtime pay requirement, which apply to commissioned sales employees; computer professionals; drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders, and mechanics; farmworkers; salesmen, partsmen, and mechanics; employees at seasonal and recreational establishments; and executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees.

These and all other exemptions are narrowly construed against employers asserting them, and employers have the ultimate burden of proving an exemption applies. As a result, any employer seeking to avoid paying overtime should take great care to check the exact terms and conditions of the exemption relied upon.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

I just read a recent post by a person complaining about Idaho’s Employment Laws and how they were so unfair and hard because this person’s daughter was terminated without cause, and she didn’t get any lunch break while she worked. This person had moved from California. They compared Idaho’s Employment laws to those in California and determined that Idaho’s laws were ludicrous and a joke because they offered no protection for the employees.

This person’s feelings are not uncommon. I often meet with potential clients, most of whom have lost their job, and have to explain to them that while what happened to them may not be fair or even morally right, it is not illegal under current federal or state law. Here are some of the basics that everyone should know about Idaho’s Employment laws.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

As an employer you have faced this situation many times. You completed the job application. You narrowed down and interviewed your top choices. All of your hard work paid off and you found the right person for the job. You are excited to hire this person and have them begin working for your business. But wait a minute. You have 4 or 5 other applicants who are not going to get the job.  Now you have to let them know they didn’t get the job. The truth about being an employer is that how you treat those individuals who are being rejected for a job matters. Every situation is an opportunity to build goodwill and a positive business image, including sending out rejection letters.

Sometimes rejection letters are known as a “no thanks letter.” When a rejection letter is viewed as an opportunity, it can end in a positive result for everyone. For instance, when an employer believes that the candidate would qualify for other roles in their company the employer could let the person know that they should apply for a different position. Alternatively, the employer could encourage the applicant to apply again in the future. When a rejection letter is positive, it can maintain a good relationship.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

We all seen them and have likely filled several of them out during our working careers. I’m talking about job applications. Employers use job applications as a tool when hiring as a way of ensuring that they are weeding out potential problems and hiring the employee who will make the greatest contributions to the business. In working with employer clients I often discuss with them the 3 most important questions about using job applications in the hiring process.

1. SHOULD OUR BUSINESS USE A JOB APPLICATION?

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By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

It doesn’t really matter whether you have 10 or 10,000 employees, your business, or any business with employees will gain a direct benefit from having well written, accurate job descriptions.  Accurate job descriptions in an engagement letter or an employment agreement helps to eliminate confusion. More importantly, having an accurate job description also ensures that all duties of the job are assigned efficiently and to employees who are qualified. The most import benefit from having well written job descriptions is that they help protect the employer when things go bad.

1. START OFF RIGHT

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By Joseph G. Ballstaedt

Usually a non-compete agreement refers to a contract between an employer and an employee whereby the employee agrees not to engage in a trade or profession that competes with the employer’s business. Sometimes these agreements are called “non-compete clauses,” “covenants not to compete,” or “restrictive covenants.” They generally extend beyond the term of the employment relationship. For example, a hospital may want a doctor to sign a non-compete agreement prohibiting an employee doctor from practicing medicine within 50 miles of the hospital for a year after employment. This agreement would protect the hospital’s business since the doctor couldn’t quit, start up a private practice in the same area, and steal patients from the hospital—at least not without breaking the non-compete agreement and risking being sued in court.

Although almost every state, including Idaho, allows non-compete agreements, a few do not. There are good policy reasons behind allowing non-compete agreements, including allowing parties the freedom to contract, protecting legitimate business interests, and incentivizing employers to provide expensive on-the-job training. On the other had, others argue non-competes hurt the economy because they stifle worker mobility and the spread of ideas. Also, some claim non-competes create unemployment because people are prohibited from using their professional skills. Low-skilled employees such as fast-food workers seem to be especially harmed by non-competes.

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By Joseph G. Ballstaedt

In Idaho, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you meet monetary eligibility requirements and personal eligibility requirements. You must be ready and able to work, and you must have quit your previous job with good cause related to the employment (wages, hours, working conditions of the job, etc.) or, if you were fired, you cannot have been fired for misconduct related to your employment.

After you file for unemployment, the Idaho Department of Labor will make an “Eligibility Determination,” the first decision made on your claim. The Department makes this determination using facts gathered by the local office. Following this initial determination, there are three higher authorities that can hear appeals.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

The termination of an employee will be controlled by either an existing employment contract or Idaho’s “at will” doctrine.  However, regardless of which of these applies to the employment relationship, it is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee in violation of public policy.

According to the Idaho Supreme Court, the right to discharge an at-will employee may be limited by considerations of public policy, such as when the motivation for the firing contravenes public policy.  Jackson v. Minidoka Irrigation Dist., 98 Idaho 330 333, 563 P.2d 54, 57 (1977).  Public policy of the state of Idaho is found in its constitution and statutes.  Boise-Payette Lumber Co. v. Challis Independent School Dist. No. 1 of Custer County, 46 Idaho 403, 268 P. 26 (1928).  The public policy expressed therein may serve as a basis for finding an exception to the employment at-will doctrine.  See generally, 82 Am.Jur.2d Wrongful Discharge § 19, at 692 (1992). The determination of what constitutes public policy sufficient to protect an at-will employee from termination is a question of law.  Quiring v. Quiring, 130 Idaho 560, 566, 944 P.2d 695, 701 (1997).

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