Some interesting tidbits of Maryland labor and employment news:
- According to the Daily Record, Pepsi Bottling Group and a group of employees have settled an overtime compensation case in the U.S. District Court of Maryland. As part of the settlement, about 60 employees will share an award of $187,275, with attorneys’ fees and administrative costs bringing the total cost of the case to just over $270,000. The named plaintiff, Avary Lehigh, claimed that for about a year, he performed work “off-the-clock” at the behest of his supervision. The Daily Record includes an interesting breakdown of the settlement — the $187,275 split between 60 plaintiffs means that each plaintiff walks away with about $3,100 (including a $9000 incentive fee to Mr. Lehigh). On the other hand, the Plaintiff’s attorneys at Crone & McEvoy make out with $64,273.
- The Baltimore Business Journal has an interesting story on the hidden costs of ADA regulations. The regulation in question comes from the Justice Department and requires that all ATM machines be usable by blind people. Under the regs, ATMs must now have a voice compnent that speaks instructions to blind people and helps guide them through the process of using an ATM. While the goal is laudable, the compliance costs are enoromous — the cost of replacing an ATM machine is a surprising $30,000 to $60,000. This is a major cost for small banks, but they have few options — non-compliance can result in a first fine of $55,000, followed by another fine of $110,000, plus the possible exposure to individual ADA lawsuits. The Journal estimates that the cost nationwide is $500 million dollar for this ADA fix.
- The Baltimore Sun reports that the Baltimore County Council has tabled a proposal that would have changed pension calculations for county employees represented by AFSCME. Right now, the County includes overtime pay in pension calculations — undoubtedly resulting in increased pension costs. The County was poised to change that, but backed down after organized labor mounted heavy pressure. The controversey underscores the continued tension between pensions found in the public sector — that tend to be very generous and include perks like overtime pay in the pension formula — and “pensions” in the private sector, which are all but extinct (at least traditional pensions; most employers do offer 401Ks and the like). Estimates differed as to how much money the proposal would have saved, but estimates ranged from $200,000 to $500,000 — not chump change in lean economic times for the County.