Gallagher, Harris win run-off races

Congrats to Pat Gallagher and Roger Harris for winning their city council seats in the run-off election on Saturday.

Election Summary Report
City Runoff Election

Summary For Jurisdiction Wide, All Counters, All Races Combined Accumulated Totals

Registered Voters 209557 – Cards Cast 5598 2.67%
Num. Report Precinct 93 – Num. Reporting 93 100.00%

Council member at-large

Number of Precincts 30
Precincts Reporting 30 100.0 %
Vote For 1
Times Counted 2268/66075 3.4 %
Total Votes 2265
Times Blank Voted 3
Times Over Voted 0
Number Of Under Votes 0
Steve Bell 798 35.23%
Roger D. Harris 1467 64.77%

Council Member
Place 7

Number of Precincts 63
Precincts Reporting 63 100.0 %
Vote For 1
Times Counted 3330/143482 2.3 %
Total Votes 3327
Times Blank Voted 3
Times Over Voted 0
Number Of Under Votes 0
Pat Gallagher 1850 55.61%
Greg Myer 1477 44.39%

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New ‘app’ tracks hours worked

Federal investigators regularly look for violations of minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor and other provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers not found to be in compliance must pay back wages and penalties. Recently, the Department of Labor launched a new smartphone “app” to help employees track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed.

These electronic timesheets could result in more employers being hit with wage-and-hour-related violations. Keith Andre, Managing Partner, Andre + Associates PC, in McKinney shares 14 ways that your company or organization can get tripped up by these complex requirements.

“This app will help empower workers to understand and stand up for their rights when employers have denied their hard-earned pay,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

For workers without smartphones, the WHD now has a printable calendar in English and Spanish to track pay rates, start and stop times, as well as arrival and departure times.

Currently, the app is only compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch, but the DOL wants to make it available for other platforms and add features to track tips, bonuses, commissions and more.

With the introduction of the app, it’s a good time for employers to ensure they are in compliance with the complex Fair Labor Standards Act.

14 ways employers can get tripped up by wage-and-hour violations:

1. Failing to correctly classify non-exempt and exempt employees. This is the mistake investigators often target first. Determining employees who are legally exempt from the wage-and-hour laws can be complicated.

Here are the basic rules:

Covered nonexempt employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per workweek at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular pay rate. (A 40-hour workweek is defined as any fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours over seven consecutive 24-hour periods.)
There’s no limit on the hours that employees 16 years or older can work in a week as long as they are paid overtime.
The FLSA does not require extra pay for working weekends, holidays, or nights, unless overtime is involved.

2. Failing to calculate overtime pay correctly. This can occur when an employer doesn’t include all earnings in the base, earned hourly pay.

For example, let’s say non-exempt employees earn mandatory bonuses over a period of time. An employer fails to recalculate the employees’ hourly earnings for the period to include the bonuses. Mandatory bonuses earned for factors related to hours worked and length of employment are considered earned wages under the wage-and-hour laws.

3. Misclassifying employees as independent contractors. According to the WHD, the “misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an alarming trend, particularly in industries such as construction that often employ low-wage, vulnerable workers.”

Often, the WHD adds, “workers are deprived of overtime and minimum wages, forced to pay taxes that their employers are legally obligated to pay and left with no recourse if they are injured or discriminated against in the workplace.”

When the WHD finds cases of misclassification, it may refer the cases to state agencies and the IRS.

4. Failing to pay for work during missed meal and rest periods. Wage-and-hour laws require employers to pay non-exempt employees for all time worked — whether or not it was authorized by an employer or supervisor. So if employees continue to work through meals and breaks of 20 minutes or less, employers are required to pay for the time. And when the extra time results in an employee putting in more than 40 hours in a workweek, the employer also owes overtime pay.

5. Failing to pay for certain on-call time. If an employer engages an employee to wait to be put to work, the individual must be paid for the on-call time.

6. Deducting an exempt employee’s pay for poor performance. This violates one of the basic rules for determining employee status. An exempt employee must be paid the agreed-on salary without regard to the quality or quantity of the individual’s performance during the pay period. When an employer takes money out of an exempt employee’s salary for poor performance, it can result in permanently changing the employee’s status from exempt to non-exempt.

7. Not paying for employees to work electronically after hours. Many employees carry and use cell phones, laptops and other devices throughout their waking hours.

Employees often get involved in work-related tasks on these devices. For example, a manager may tell a non-exempt employee to check in regularly on her cell phone while on vacation. Or an employee may uses his laptop at night and on weekends to keep a project going.

The basic rule: When a non-exempt employee engages in work-related activities that benefit the employer (even voluntarily), the time is compensable.

8. Failing to pay for time spent at after-hours meetings. When attendance at a meeting outside normal work hours is required and the subject and activity at the meeting is work-related, the employees’ must be paid for the time.

9. Failing to keep required records. Federal law requires employers to keep time-worked records. So if there is a dispute with an employee about hours and pay and the employer is unable to show accurately recorded time records, courts will favor the employee’s claims and records.

10. Treating exempt employees as if they are non-exempt employees. When an employer treats an exempt employee as if he or she is an hourly paid non-exempt employee, the employer risks losing that employee’s exempt status. Even worse, if the employer treats an exempt employee like an hourly paid non-exempt employee, the employer may also lose the exempt status of all other employees in the same job classification working for the same managers responsible for the wrong treatment.

How do employers treat otherwise exempt employees like hourly paid non-exempt employees? By improperly basing their pay on hours worked (or not worked) rather than on a daily, weekly, or monthly salary.

For example, let’s say an exempt employee paid a salary begins coming to work two or three hours late on Mondays. The boss deducts amounts from the employee’s paycheck for the hours not worked. By treating the employee like an hourly paid non-exempt employee, the employer has changed the individual’s status.

11. Substituting comp time for overtime pay. Under federal law, compensatory time off or comp time in place of receiving overtime pay is generally only legal for government employees. Federal law generally requires that employees get paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a seven-day workweek established by the employer. (Note: Some states require overtime pay for hours worked over eight in a day.)

12. Taking unauthorized deductions from paychecks. An employer can only legally deduct from an employee’s earned pay the amounts required or authorized by law (such as Social Security, income tax deductions, and court-ordered garnisheed amounts) as well as deductions authorized by the employee (such as deductions for insurance premiums and loan payments).

Examples: An employer cannot deduct amounts from an employee’s pay to cover damages to the organization’s equipment. And an employer cannot withhold a departing employee’s final paycheck as a way of collecting an amount the individual owes on a loan previously obtained from the employer — unless the employee has given authorization in advance.

13. Not paying minimum wage when required. The WHD investigates employers who violate requirements to pay covered employees at least the federal minimum wage.

For example, in January, Los Angeles clothing manufacturer Joe’s Jeans paid $158,950 in back wages to 110 garment workers after an investigation. The WHD found employees were paid on a piece-rate basis without regard for the minimum wage and overtime requirements. Investigators also found weekend work was not recorded on employee time cards.

14. Failing to abide by state laws. States may have their own version of federal wage and hour rules. So employers need to be aware of and comply with the laws in the states where they have employees.

[NOTE: Information and guidance in this article is intended to provide interesting and helpful information on the subjects covered. It is not intended to provide a legal service for readers’ individual needs. For legal guidance in your specific situations, always consult with an attorney who is familiar with employment law and labor issues.]

New fire chief in McKinney

McKinney City Manager Jason Gray has hired Daniel Kistner as McKinney Fire Chief. Kistner, who replaces Chief Mark Wallace, starts July 5.

Kistner served as the Fire Chief in Lufkin, Texas, for nearly two years and served the City of Garland in a variety of roles for 26 years, including as the Assistant Fire Chief.

“Our entire city management team is excited to welcome Chief Kistner to the McKinney team,” said Deputy City Manager Rick Chaffin. “He has shown incredible passion and experience for the position, and we are confident he will lead the department to new heights as it serves our growing community.”

Kistner earned a Master’s degree in Fire and Emergency Management Administration from Oklahoma State University and is working on a doctorate in Fire Service Administration. Kistner is a graduate of the Texas Fire Chief’s Academy and a Chief Fire Officer designee.

Kistner was also one of six national candidates selected to receive fellowships to attend Harvard University’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program this summer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The 19-day program, which includes State and local government leaders from across the U.S. and other countries, focuses on exploring the interrelationships between citizens and government, analyzing policy options, and examining the ethical and professional responsibilities of leadership.

Kistner takes over the post from McKinney Fire Chief Mark Wallace, who announced his retirement effective June 1. Wallace had been McKinney’s Fire Chief for the last 10 years of his 41-year career.

Shooting in Plano leaves one dead; police arrest 20-year-old man

A 50-year-old Plano man has died after being shot Friday afternoon in the 800 block of 19th and Ave. G.

The dead man found inside the home was identified by police as Ismaell Torres.

A woman (about 20) was also shot and hospitalized. She was in critical condition on Saturday night.

Plano Police charged Edgar Alberto Romo with murder and aggravated assault on Saturday. Romo is being held at the Collin County Detention Center.

Quick look at new McKinney Deputy City Manager Joe Williams

McKinney City Manager Jason Gray announced the hiring of Joe Williams as Deputy City Manager. Williams started with the city.

He fills the role formerly held by Jim Parrish, who resigned earlier this month.

Williams formerly worked for the Frisco Police Department, where he served as a patrol officer and sergeant, detective sergeant, lieutenant and captain over operations.

In 2007, Williams was appointed Chief of Police in Celina. During his tenure there, the department received numerous national and state awards, including becoming a “recognized Texas police agency.”

At McKinney, Williams will oversee the Public Works, Library, Human Resources, Information Technology, City Secretary, and Parks, Recreation & Open Space Departments.

Williams has an Associate’s Degree from Collin College, a Bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University and will graduate with a Master’s Degree in August from Sam Houston State University. He and his wife Amy have three children.

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