The Oxford Comma Case Proves We Need New Employment Laws, Not Better Grammar

You’ve substantially listened about a association in Maine that will finish adult shelling out around $10 million for miss of an Oxford comma. The New York Times explains it as follows:

A class-action lawsuit about overtime compensate for lorry drivers hinged wholly on a discuss that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally required — Oxford comma, maybe a many polarizing of punctuation marks.

What ensued in a United States Court of Appeals for a First Circuit, and in a 29-page justice preference handed down on Monday, was an practice in high-stakes abbreviation pedantry that could cost a dairy association in Portland, Me., an estimated $10 million.

Everyone is focusing on a Oxford comma partial of this case, though I’d like to concentration on a ridiculousness of an practice law that could outcome in this difficulty and hinge on a abbreviation question.

My initial doubt about this was: How on earth do lorry drivers validate as giveaway on a federal-law level? The Fair Labor Standards Act has despotic manners for who can and who can't be giveaway (that is, not authorised for overtime), and during initial peek lorry drivers don’t seem to accommodate those criteria, though it turns out that labor law exempts employees who tumble underneath a office of a secretary of travel by a Motor Carrier Act of 1935. That’s since Maine could make a possess rules.

But let’s consider about this — since are we vouchsafing a 1935 law about “motor carriers” oversee a practice law today? The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enacted in 1938. Sure, there have been some revisions and some regulatory changes, though it mostly stays a same.

Our workplaces have really tiny in common with a workplaces of a 1930s. It’s time to dissolution a FLSA and reinstate it with something that creates clarity in today’s environment.

Walter Olson, who runs a renouned blog Overlawyered, described his ideas for changing practice law for a libertarian consider tank Cato, in that he includes repealing a “federal smallest wage, overtime, and other supplies of a Fair Labor Standards Act.” Why? Well, he takes a pro-employee position and describes how employees are harm by a manners around smallest salary and overtime as follows:

  • grocery co-ops that rest on member volunteers to batch shelves;
  • developmentally infirm persons in village employment;
  • workers asked to obey association dungeon phones and stop regulating association online services after hours;
  • elders for whom overnight home attendants, unexpected unaffordable underneath an overtime mandate, had been a choice to nursing home care;
  • restaurant, airport, and other use workers who done distant some-more underneath a tip system;
  • interns and initial jobholders in competitive, sought-after fields like conform broadcasting and domestic debate work;
  • drivers left with a choice of appurtenance automobile rinse or zero since by-hand washes are unsustainable when a tip complement gives approach to a $15 smallest wage;
  • disabled persons who rest on now-unaffordable personal caring assistants;
  • small wineries with village proffer programs; and
  • telecommuters removed to in-office assignments only.

Employment counsel Jon Hyman agrees that a FLSA needs an overhaul. He wrote:

The FLSA needs to go since correspondence is impossible. Congress enacted a FLSA during a Great Depression to fight a sweatshops that had taken over a production sector. In a 70+ years that have passed, it has evolved, around a formidable web of regulations and interpretations, into an anachronistic obstruction of manners that even a best-intentioned employer can't wish to approve with. we would gamble any employer in this nation a giveaway salary and hour review that we can find an FLSA defilement in your compensate practices. A regulatory intrigue that is unfit to accommodate does not make clarity to keep alive. Instead, what employers and employees need is a some-more streamlined complement to safeguard that workers are paid a satisfactory wage.

This Oxford comma box proves Hyman’s case. While this box hinged on a state law, it did so since of superannuated sovereign laws. In a country with over 27 million tiny businesses (as of 2010), we should have laws that are easy to understand. There should never, ever be justice cases that can go possibly approach or where it’s easy for an employer to make a mistake.

Do we have a resolution for all practice law? No. But where would we start? Well, with a arrogance that employees over a age of 18 are adults and should be means to make their possess contracts with employers. The pivotal of my offer would be that all pursuit offers contingency be in essay (electronic or on paper) and that those terms could not be altered but allege notice. Let any chairman confirm if a pursuit offer creates him or her improved or worse off.

Let’s never have an practice law hinge on a bargain of abbreviation from a ninth-grade English class. That’s astray for everyone.

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