John E. Thompson

John Thompson is a partner in the Atlanta office of the law firm Fisher & Phillips. His practice focuses on wage and hour law, assisting employers in preventive efforts designed to ensure compliance, and he handles both investigations conducted by government agencies and litigation in the wage and hour area. John has served as a Special Assistant Attorney General for wage-hour matters for the State of Georgia. Contact him at

Articles by John E. Thompson

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

What Is an Intern? The Labor Dept. Lists the 6 Factors That Define One


By John E. Thompson

We wrote some time ago about a lower federal court’s determination in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures that at least two unpaid interns were “employees” for federal Fair Labor Standards Act purposes.

This ruling is now being reviewed by the New York-based Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (with jurisdiction over Connecticut, New York, and Vermont). The U.S. Department of Labor has submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in which it supports the lower court’s decision.

The Labor Department’s filing provides some interesting insight into its views about when an intern is an “employee” for purposes of the FLSA’s requirements. Read more…

Compensation, HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Proposed Minimum Wage Regulations for Federal Contractors Released

obama jobless

By John E. Thompson

The U.S. Department of Labor has released its proposed regulations implementing Executive Order 13658, President Obama’s directive to raise the minimum-wage rate for workers on federal contracts from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour (subject to annual increases after 2015).

We wrote about this initiative earlier in the year; we will not repeat those discussions here.

Identifying all ramifications of the 181-page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will necessitate a careful review. However, at least some ambiguities of the Executive Order itself appear to have been clarified. Read more…

Compensation, Legal Issues

The Disinformation Surrounding the “Tipped-Employee Minimum Wage”

123RF Stock Photo

By John E. Thompson

A White House report promoting a substantial jump in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act‘s minimum wage perpetuates now widely disseminated propaganda about an alleged “tipped employee minimum wage” of $2.13 per hour.

The fact is that there is no such thing. Talk of a so-called “tipped minimum wage” is designed in part to create a false impression that tipped employees are typically relegated to making less than the actual FLSA minimum wage. Read more…

Compensation, HR News & Trends

BLS Minimum Wage Report: Is There Anything Worthwhile In it?


By John E. Thompson

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a report entitled Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2013 which claims that approximately 1.8 million hourly-paid workers made less than the federal Fair Labor Standards Act‘s $7.25-per-hour minimum wage last year.

It also asserts that another 1.5 million hourly-paid workers earned exactly this minimum rate.

These statements are already being touted as additional support for increasing the FLSA minimum wage. On the contrary, even a cursory look at the methodology gives rise to serious doubt that the report has almost anything worthwhile to say in this regard. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Opposition Is Growing to Unpaid Internships for College Credit


By John E. Thompson

We have already reported that a group calling itself the “Fair Pay Campaign” aims to pressure colleges and universities not to facilitate unpaid internships or even post notices about them.

This initiative appears to be gaining momentum. Read more…

Compensation, HR News & Trends

Curtailing “White Collar” Overtime Exemptions Will Take a Lot of Work


By John E. Thompson

President Obama has instructed the U.S. Department of Labor to revise the federal Fair Labor Standards Act‘s so-called “white collar” exemptions in a “Presidential Memorandum” released on March 13.

This effort is intended (as The New York Times put it apparently in light of a White House briefing) to “force American businesses to pay more overtime to millions of workers …”

Since the FLSA’s 1938 enactment, its Section 13(a)(1) has exempted executive, administrative, professional, and outside-sales employees from its minimum-wage and overtime requirements. The FLSA specifically tasks the U.S. Secretary of Labor (not the President) with “defin[ing] and delimit[ing]” these exemptions. The current regulations were last revised in 2004. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

The Heat Is Getting Turned Up on Academic-Sponsored Internships


By John E. Thompson

We have long warned that one should not simply assume that an internship associated with or sponsored by an educational institution falls outside of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act‘s requirements.

Our caution includes situations in which the intern receives academic credit for the time spent working. Read more…

Compensation, HR News & Trends

The President’s Minimum Wage Decision: What Does it Really Mean?


By. John E. Thompson

Considerable concern and confusion has arisen from President Obama’s State of the Union announcement that he will raise the minimum wage for individuals working on federal contracts to $10.10 per hour.

Until it is possible to study any Executive Order(s) he issues on the matter, the precise meaning, parameters, and effects of what he intends to do will remain unclear. As of this writing, no such order has been published in the Federal Register. Read more…

Compensation, HR News & Trends

Wage & Hour Watch: Cheerleader Lawsuits and Hypocrisy on Intern Pay


By John E. Thompson

Some recent headline items touch upon matters of continuing concern when it comes to wage & hour issues:

Hypocrisy on minimum wage

The Employment Policies Institute has highlighted what it calls Maximum Hypocrisy on the Minimum Wage among 96 percent of the Senate and House sponsors of bills to raise the federal Fair Labor Standards Act‘s current rate.

According to EPI, this is the proportion of increase-supporting legislators who do not pay their interns. One of them is Iowa Sen.Tom Harkin, principal sponsor of the Senate measure, who has been among the most-visible proponents of the bills and who has castigated those of a different view in harsh terms. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

New Year, New Settlement: Another Big Payout Over Unpaid Interns


By John E. Thompson

As was anticipated in light of the intensified focus upon internships over three years ago, the next stage was a spate of high-profile lawsuits by unpaid or allegedly underpaid interns under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and/or state wage-hour laws.

One of them was filed last May against Elite Model Management Corporation under the FLSA and similar New York state laws.

Elite has now agreed to tender as much as $450,000 to settle the litigation. Payment to an individual who elects to participate in the settlement will generally be based upon how many weeks he or she devoted to the internship. Read more…