#SHRM19 Interview with Robert Boonin, Esq., Wage and Hour Geek & Guru



If you are headed to the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition (#SHRM19), plan ahead. There will be nearly 200 concurrent sessions from which to choose! I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Boonin, Esq. to learn more about his session, “Wage and Hour Compliance: A DOL Update and Ways to Avoid Overtime Liability Landmines,” to be presented on Monday, June 24 at 4:15 p.m. Here’s a sneak peek into this session.  

What take-aways do you expect to provide attendees?

(1) Prepare for the new salary level! The new salary level regulation is on the horizon and will likely be rolled out by early 2020. Just like we did in 2016, HR professionals should audit their payroll and time and attendance practices. Get ready for the higher salary level and how that will impact your organization. (2) This is a good time to conduct a comprehensive audit on your practices and document them well. This session will provide reasons for doing so.

Why are these issues important in today’s workplace? 

There are more wage and hour lawsuits than any other area of employment law! It’s the employment lawsuit du jour. Liability can be reduced or eliminated if you look at these issues in advance. If you audit and properly document your process, you can show good faith towards compliance, reducing your exposure to liquidated damages, reduce your liability by a year, and reduce your exposure to the employees’ attorneys’ fees, all of which can run into the hundreds of thousands, or more! This is “an ounce of prevention” time.

What is the practical application for HR professionals?

A few examples would be to look at how you account for and meal breaks and what happens when they’re missed or interrupted. How do you calculate a non-exempt employee’s “regular rate” of pay?  This issue is among the newly  proposed Department of Labor wage and hour regulations, addressing issues such as whether the value of cashed out, unused sick days must be included in the employee’s regular rate or pay. These and other practical tips, such as exemption issues, will be reviewed during the session. As these issues get more attention, employees will become more familiar with them too, and that may cause them raise questions or even find a lawyer. You want to be prepared with the answers, and you also want to be in compliance.

What unique perspective do you bring to this topic?

I’ve been working in the wage and hour arena for more than 30 years. I co-founded the Wage and Hour Defense Institute (WHDI) more than ten years ago. Most recently, I was the co-chair for ABA’s FLSA Subcommittee. I’m kind of a wage and hour geek. 

Is there anything else you would like folks to know about this session? Expect audience participation and engagement! 

Conference session planning tip-the concurrent sessions are offered in one of nine tracks. This session is offered in the Compliance track. You can check out this program and 36 others in the Compliance track here.



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