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By C. Alexander Chiulli

As employment lawyers, we are often asked questions related to the classification of employees as exempt versus non-exempt, as well as for guidance in navigating the many federal and state laws and regulations concerning the payment of wages to employees. Rhode Island employers should regularly review their wage and hour practices to ensure compliance with the ever-changing legal landscape relative to these issues. The following reminders highlight aspects of federal and state wage and hour laws and regulations that employers should take into careful consideration.

Major Changes to Federal Overtime Regulations. With few exceptions, hourly workers must be paid time and one-half their regular pay rate for all hours worked over forty in a workweek as well as for time worked on Sundays and holidays. This rule does not apply, however, to certain exempt employees, such as those holding executive, administrative, or professional positions as defined under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, so long as they are paid a minimum base salary. Starting December 1, 2016, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) will significantly increase the minimum salary for many exempt employees, such that most workers earning $47,476 or less per year will be eligible for overtime wages. This increase more than doubles the present threshold of $23,660 per year. According to the DOL, the rule change will supply increased pay to approximately 4.2 million workers nationwide upon its implementation. Rhode Island employers should therefore proactively evaluate whether their employees will be exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay in advance of this forthcoming change.

Minimum Wage: Effective since January 1, 2016, Rhode Island’s General Assembly raised the state’s minimum wage to $9.60 per hour. As of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage for employees receiving gratuities will increase to $5.71 per hour. Relatedly, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (“DLT”) strictly enforces employers’ compliance with hour and wage laws. Rhode Island employers must consequently pay increased attention to determining and correctly paying employees’ wages.

Timekeeping. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training also mandates that records be kept by employers for all employees, whether salaried or not. It is thus essential that employers keep accurate and detailed daily and weekly time records for all employees for no less than three years in order to comply with Rhode Island regulations.

Breaks. Unless subject to an exception, employees must be given a thirty-minute meal period for every eight hours worked and a twenty-minute meal break for every six hours worked. During a regular shift that is less than six hours long, employers are not required to provide coffee or other breaks.

Pay days. Under Rhode Island law, employees must be paid weekly, and pay days must fall within nine days of the end of a payroll period. To be excused from the weekly requirement, employers must file a petition with the DLT. The Director of DLT may then permit payment of employees less frequently under specific circumstances, such as if: (a) the employer’s average payroll exceeds 200% of the state minimum wage; (b) the employer pays wages on a preset date at least twice per month; and (c) the employer provides surety in the amount of the highest biweekly payroll exposure in the preceding year.

It is vitally important for Rhode Island employers to ensure compliance with the various wage and hour laws and regulations, as violations may result in claims or lawsuits by employees, as well as investigations and potential civil money penalties imposed by government agencies. As always, when in doubt, please contact a seasoned professional to assist.

The Lady Project announces Women’s Entrepreneurship Week, Celebrating Women in Power November 14-19

Providence, Rhode Island:  The Lady Project announces its first annual Women Entrepreneurship Week November 14-19.  Women’s Entrepreneurship Week is a celebration of women owned businesses in Providence. Through education and inspiration, The Lady Project’s first annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Week is redefining what it means to be an entrepreneur in Rhode Island.

Events include: 

  • 11/14: Designers & Makers Speakers Series – Join us Monday, November 14 at MOO from 6-8pm as The PVD Lady Project in partnership with Craftland & Moo celebrates the state’s designers and makers.
  • 11/15: Digital Storytellers – On Tuesday, November 15 join PVD Lady Project at Nail from 12-1pm for our lunch and learn as the talented women of NAIL Communications explain Digital Storytelling as it relates to consumer brands and today’s marketing environment.
  • 11/15: Change Makers – Join PVD Lady Project for our Change Makers Panel at Providence City Hall on Tuesday, November 15 from 6-8pm.  Our Change Makers Panel moderator Marisa O’Gara currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff to Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, she will be leading the panel.
  • 11/16: Celebrating Women of Color in Business – Join PVD Lady Project at Easy Entertaining on Wednesday, November 16 from 6-8pm for our panel discussion celebrating women of color in business. Moderator Brittanny Taylor, is a fashion and lifestyle photographer working in Providence.  Brittanny will lead the panel.
  • 11/17: Women in STEM – Join Lady Project and Girl Develop It at Upserve on Thursday, November 17 from 6-8pm for our Women in STEM Panel Discussion. Moderator Nora Meah is a talent hacker and public education reformer will lead a panel with featuring Principal Business Analyst, Lisa Fougere and Software Engineer and member of Girl Develop It, Katryn Mcintosh.
  • 11/18: Lunch + Learn with the Vanech Pontarelli Private Client Group– Join Lady Project at Circe from 12-1pm as Carrie McPherson, Senior Financial Associate for Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. leads this session with financial planning advice for your business.
  • 11/19: National Women’s Entrepreneurship Day – The PVD Lady Project will be hoisting a morning of relaxation and self-care at Providence Power Yoga on Saturday, November 19 starting at 9:30am.  Following the class please join us at CAV for a delicious brunch.
  • Help us in celebrating each other as we wrap up #PVDWEW at Cleverhood on November 19th from 7-9pm, with refreshments from North Bakery and Long Live Beerworks!


ST. PETERSBURG, FL -Valpak, a leader in local print and digital coupons, announced today it is looking to further grow its brand in the Narragansett Bay area, which includes Providence, Warwick and Cranston. The company currently mails to as many as 140,000 homes in the Ocean State, but is looking to expand its reach to 230,000 homes that will receive its signature Blue Envelope.

The U.S. Census Bureau lists Providence as the state’s most populous city, making the location a target expansion market for Valpak. Growth rate data from the American Community Survey also indicates that within the past five years, Providence, Warwick and Cranston have all emerged as the Ocean States’ top 10 fastest growing cities – with Providence and Cranston leading the list as the top two cities. Additionally, the Providence-Warwick Metropolitan area continues to earn national recognition, such as a ranking for Best Places for Business and Careers and Cost of Doing Business.

“The Providence metropolitan area offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to capitalize on the local economic growth,” said Shak Turner, Valpak’s director of franchise sales. “It’s exciting to know that Valpak, as a leading direct marketing company, can assist local businesses in their own economic growth by offering services through our popular mailer, along with our vast suite of digital advertising tools.”

A leader in cooperative direct mail, Valpak mails coupons to nearly 39 million demographically targeted households per month in 45 states and four Canadian provinces. Today, in addition to its flagship Blue Envelope, Valpak offers its business customers an impressive portfolio of digital advertising products including, Smartphone apps, Google partnerships, website development, mobile web optimization and reputation management.

With more than 25 million Americans using couponing apps each month, Valpak’s digital offerings have been a big draw for new franchisees. Digital coupon use is on the rise, and ample gains are projected in 2016. In the past year, Valpak’s print offerings have also expanded with on-pack advertising and circulars.

Ideal candidates for Valpak franchise ownership should possess a desire to join a trusted, industry-leading brand, work within a proven franchise system, develop relationships with local businesses and have a comfort level with selling new, digital technologies. Franchisees should also possess a minimum liquidity of $75,000, and a minimum net worth of $150,000.

For more information on Valpak franchise opportunities, please contact Shak Turner at or 727-399-3091 or visit

PLDW’s Employment Law Team Schedules Briefing on U.S. Labor Department’s New “White Collar” Overtime Exemption Rules, Effective December 1, 2016

Providence, RI – September 28, 2016 – Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC (PLDWveteran 
employment lawyers and litigators, Principal William E. O’Gara and Partner Matthew C. Reeber, will 
hold a “hot topics” breakfast briefing to address compliance issues and employer obligations with the 
U.S. Department of Labor’s new “white collar” overtime exemption rules that are effective on 
December 1, 2016. “Mastering the New Exemption Rules: How to Reduce Risk to Your Organization” 
will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the firm’s Providence office at 317 Iron Horse Way, Suite 301. Registration for the complimentary workshop is recommended. Please call PLDW Reception at 401-824-5100 or email to register.   
Attorneys O’Gara, who recently authored ‘White-Collar’ Pay Boost, published in Providence 
Business News, and Attorney Reeber will facilitate a discussion about the number of gray areas in the 
regulations that employers must understand in order to reduce the risk of litigation. Among the areas 
to be covered in their presentation include how to conduct a “duties test” for an employeewhat 
constitutes “matters of significance” in job descriptions and correctly defining independent 
contractors. They will also provide a review of the critical documentation required by an employer in 
the event of litigation.  
Attorney O’Gara leads the firm’s employment and litigation teams. He is a highly respected 
labor and employment law practitioner with a significant depth of experience handling diverse matters before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including the Rhode Island Commission on Human Rights and the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination. With over 25 years of experience, Mr. O’Gara’s diverse practice includes defending wrongful termination and discrimination claims, contract negotiations and matters of union representation. He routinely represents employers in matters ranging from sexual harassment to retirement issues, and provides mediation services to resolve disputes and avoid costly litigation.  
Attorney Reeber’s employment law practice includes handling numerous matters arising under 
state and federal anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation statutes, wage and hour statutes, 
whistleblower statutes, family and medical leave statutes, unemployment compensation statutes and 
claims for wrongful termination. As part of his practice, Attorney Reeber represents clients before 
federal and state courts and administrative agencies. For the past five years, he has been named a 
New England Rising Star by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers, a distinction that recognizes the top 2.5 percent of New England lawyers under the age of forty or those in practice for ten years or less.  
To contact attorneys O’Gara or Reeber, call 401-824-5100 or email Attorney O’Gara at or Attorney Reeber at mreeber@pldw.comTo learn more about PLDW, visit or follow us on Twitter (@pldwllc) and stay up-to-date with the firm’s activities on 
LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. 
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