Cypen & Cypen
JUNE 4, 2009
Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor
1. FLORIDA GOVERNOR SIGNS FIRE AND POLICE PENSION LEGISLATION:
On June 1, 2009, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law CS SB 538, an act relating to publicly funded retirement programs. The law makes significant amendments to Chapter 175, Florida Statutes (firefighters) and Chapter 185, Florida Statutes (police officers). The law is effective July 1, 2009, although certain provisions need not be complied with until January 1, 2010. The entire 37-page law is available at http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_s0538er.DOCX&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0538&Session=2009. In the near future, we will do a detailed Newsletter analyzing each section of the new law. [Because of its importance, we are rerunning this item from the Special Supplement dated June 2, 2009, in case anybody missed it.]
2. HALF OF LAID OFF WORKERS FOUND JOBS:
Despite one of the most challenging hiring environments in the nation’s history, 41% of workers who were laid off from full-time jobs in the last three months reported that they found a new full-time, permanent position, while another 8% found part-time work, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. More men than women who were laid off in the last twelve months were able to find full-time employment -- 59% of men compared to 49% of women. Comparing age brackets, workers ages 35-44 were most likely to find full-time jobs after a layoff at 68%. Workers ages 18-24 were least likely at 41%, followed by 46% of workers age 55 and older. For those workers laid off in the last twelve months, only 32% received a severance package from their employers. Sixty-nine percent reported the severance sustained them for two months or less. One quarter said it sustained them for less than a month. Forty-five percent of workers who were laid off in the last year had to tap into long-term savings as a result of losing their jobs.
3. CONGRESS EXTENDS $250,000 FDIC LIMIT:
On May 19, 2009, Congress passed legislation extending the $250,000 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation deposit insurance coverage limit through 2013. According to Government Finance Officers Association, President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law. Remember that in October 2008, FDIC temporarily increased coverage from $100,000 to $250,000 (see C&C Newsletter for October 8, 2009, Item 1). The increase in coverage was scheduled to remain in effect until December 31, 2009, at which time it would revert to $100,000. The new legislation also allows FDIC to borrow as much as $100 Billion from the Treasury Department. The measure is meant to boost confidence in FDIC’s deposit insurance fund, which fell to just $19 Billion from $52.4 Billion at the end of 2007. Thirty-three banks have failed this year. The expanded borrowing authority is expected to reduce the special assessment FDIC had levied on banks as a way of strengthening the FDIC fund. In addition, FDIC also created a Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, which guarantees newly issued senior unsecured debt of insured depository institutions (banks and thrifts) and certain holding companies. The debt must be issued by June 30, 2009, with maturities up to three years. Effectively, the bank corporate debt will be guaranteed by FDIC and full faith and credit of the United States government. Bank participation in the program is optional.
4. GOVERNMENT BENEFITS COMPARISON TOOL:
Center for State & Local Government Excellence and International City/County Management Association have developed a tool for state and local government leaders, academics, research institutions and the general public to search data collected from city/county governments on their retiree health care and pension plans. The separate links are accessible through http://mygfoa.org/gbct.
5. ILLINOIS HOUSE VOTES TO KEEP PENSION FUND PAYMENTS UP:
The Illinois House has refused to go along with the Governor’s plan to reduce payments to state pension funds. According to the (Champaign, Ill.) News-Gazette, representatives voted 102-0, with 14 voting “present,” fully to fund the pensions at a cost of about $4 Billion. The Governor had proposed a $2.3 Billion reduction in pension funding for the fiscal year beginning July 1, and suggested skipping the fourth quarter pension payment in the current fiscal year, as a way of saving $2.8 Billion.
6. EMPLOYEE BEARS BURDEN TO SHOW COMPENSABILITY UNDER FLSA:
Seven current and former police officers sued the County for its alleged failure to pay overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. They raised three distinct pay-related claims: (1) the County failed to compensate them for work performed during their commute time, (2) the County failed to compensate them for work performed during their meal times and (3) the County failed to compensate them for general overtime. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the County on all issues and claims. The police officers appealed, claiming that the District Court erred by failing to grant their motion for summary judgment, by failing to grant their motion for judgment as a matter of law and by issuing and refusing to issue certain jury instructions. On appeal, the lower court ruling was affirmed. FLSA requires the County to keep track of the working hours of each employee that falls under the Act. An employee must be compensated for duties before and after scheduled hours if the employer knows or has reason to believe the employee is continuing to work and the duties are an integral and indispensable part of the employee’s principal work activity. Thus, in order to prevail on their overtime claims, the police officers were required to present evidence that they worked above their scheduled hours without compensation, and that the County knew or should have known they were working overtime. The County had no duty to check its Computer Aided Dispatch, which tracks duty-status of an officer through a program, and such records were not an appropriate basis of constructive knowledge on behalf of the County. Hertz v. Woodbury County Iowa, Case No. 08-2612 (U.S. 8th Cir., May 28, 2009).
7. CREATIVE PUNS FOR “EDUCATED MINDS”:
The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
8. QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.” Benjamin Franklin
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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.