Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today announced a $120,000 settlement with car dealership Courtesy Ford, and warned other car dealers that violating the state’s advertising rules could result in stiff penalties. The settlement includes $55,000 in restitution to Oregonians who unknowingly purchased a “Data Dots” theft deterrent service that they may have thought was required by the government.
The National Retail Federation and more than 250 retail, restaurant and other companies from across the country are urging Congress to fix a mistake in last year’s tax reform law as part of end-of-year legislation, saying the error has put millions of dollars in job-creating remodeling projects on hold.
“The delay in correcting this provision has caused economic hardship for numerous businesses, including retailers, restaurants, real estate and construction industries, as well as the manufacturers that supply products to the building trade,” the businesses said in a letter to members of the House and Senate. “The delay in investments has had ripple effects across the economy that impact the communities in which these companies are doing business.”
As policymakers, builders, and the market work to solve the housing supply issues, a key question everybody asks is what type of housing do we need? Aren’t millennials always going to be renters? [No] Should we grow up, or out? Our office’s simple answer is yes. To accommodate recent and expected growth we will need to see housing supply pick up across the spectrum. This includes both an increase in the effective (buildable) land supply and redevelopment opportunities on lands within our existing communities. This is especially true for areas with good access to employment centers, stores, restaurants, transit and the like.
Employers Prepare: Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Premiums Start January 1st! By Nicole Elgin & Kyle Abraham By Barran Liebman LLP Oregon law firm
On January 1, 2019, Washington will become the fifth state in the country with Paid Family and Medical Leave. This new program will allow employees to receive a portion of their wages when they are on protected leaves of absence.
The law requires employers with Washington employees to start collecting premiums and reporting hours on January 1, 2019. The program will be funded by premiums collected on 0.4% of gross wages. The premiums are shared between employers, responsible for 37% of the total premium, and employees, responsible for the remaining 63%. Employers are required to withhold the employee-portion from the employees’ paychecks, and pay the total premiums to the Employment Security Department (ESD). Employers with less than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer-portion of the premiums, but will still be required to collect, record, and remit the employees’ premiums to the state. Employers are also required to report employee hours and wages to ESD.
US Representative Kurt Schrader,
Oregon US Congress,
Legislation introduced by Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) and Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large) to close a loophole in the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program that is reported to have cost the Medicaid program as much as $1 billion passed in the House this week as part of the IMPROVE Act. Reps. Schrader and Welch introduced the Medicaid Drug Rebate Accountability Act earlier this year following the release of an Inspector General report, and followed up by introducing the House version of the Right Rebate Act last week.
A recent judgment by the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon requires the owner of a courier service, Gerald Brazie, Jr., and three of his Portland-based companies (Senvoy LLC, Driver Resources LLC, and ZoAn Management Inc.) to pay their drivers $3,087,100 in wages and liquidated damages as well as $112,900 in civil money penalties for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The companies must also classify all drivers as employees and obtain a third party audit to ensure compliance with the FLSA.
The companies initially classified the drivers as employees but converted them to independent contractors in 2010. As independent contractors, drivers were not paid overtime, minimum wage, or reimbursed for the costs of operating and owning or leasing their vehicles. The change in classification reflected an attempt to keep up with competitors who treated drivers as independent contractors pursuant to a common industry practice.
The District Court evaluated the relationship between the companies and drivers and ultimately found the drivers should be classified as employees based on the FLSA’s economic realities test. For example, the company controls the manner in which the work is performed in several ways including requiring drivers install a specific cell phone application for GPS tracking, requiring drivers wear uniforms, and preventing drivers from freely rejecting work. The drivers have little ability to profit depending on their own managerial skills because of limitations on hiring their own employees and working for other employers. These and other factors outweigh the fact that the drivers invest in their own vehicle, cell phone, uniform, fuel, and insurance, which tend to weigh in favor of an independent contractor classification.
This case is an important reminder that industry practice is not a defense to worker misclassification, and businesses should conduct a careful analysis to ensure compliance with federal and state law. For questions on classifying your workers as employees or independent contractors, contact Heather Fossity at email@example.com or (503) 276-2151.
More than 75 percent of the people renting homes in Portland through Airbnb, Vacasa and other online sites are doing so in violation of city regulations.
Portland city auditors discovered that four of every five short-term rentals operate illegally, but the city hasn’t enforced the regulations it established in 2014 to keep hotel-type businesses out of residential neighborhoods, The Oregonian reported early last month. The city requires people renting their primary homes to live there at least nine months of the year, limit stays to 30 days, and acquire permits.
Federal officials shut down an Oregon man’s website that sold fake documents identity thieves could use to defraud innocent victims.
Steven Simmons, who operated www.noveltyexcuses under the company name of Integrated Flight Solutions of Beaverton, agreed to permanently shut down his business as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC announced that Simmons and two other people—one in California, the other in Texas—operated websites that sold fake pay stubs, utility bills, income tax forms, medical records and other documents that could be used for criminal activity, such as identity theft and tax fraud.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to classify text messaging as a telecommunications service.
During its open meeting on Dec. 12, the FCC will vote on a proposed declaratory ruling classifying text messaging as an information service, which would permit telephone carriers to block text messages to favor their own texting services and stifle free speech.
In 2007, Verizon Wireless blocked mass text messages from Naral Pro-Choice America, an advocacy group supporting women’s reproductive rights. Verizon argued it had the right to censor this content, deeming the messages “controversial and unsavory.”
In recent years, several petitioners have submitted filings to the FCC detailing a series of incidents in which carriers try to force texters to pay for more expensive short code system or enterprise text messaging to reach their audience, rather than by traditional text messages.
“In the 21st century, text messaging is as essential as telephone service, facilitating trillions of messages between senders and receivers each year – from businesses and customers, from organizations and supporters, from parents and teachers, and from doctors and patients,” Wyden and nine other senators wrote in today’s letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
“Should text messaging be classified as an information service, telephone carriers would be free to block any text message they wish,” they wrote. “We urge you to right this wrong and classify text messaging as a telecommunications service, affording this vital means of communications protections that promote innovation and support freedom of speech.”
Joining Wyden in signing the letter are Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).