NLA Day on the Hill Event Shows Legislators Significance of DOL Overtime Lawsuits on
The National Limousine Association (NLA) held its annual Day on the Hill last month in Washington, D.C. This event is an opportunity for operators from across the U.S. to meet face to face with legislators and their staff to express concerns about laws impacting their businesses. As usual, the turnout was impressive and included many new and also familiar faces, including that of Limo Digest Associate Editor Liz Hunter, who was attending for her fifth year.
|The California group (L to R): Gary Buffo, Pure Luxury Transportation; Deena Papagni, A Touch of Class Transportation; Liz Hunter, Limo Digest; Ron Stein, Exclusive Sedan Service; Rich Azzolino, Gateway Limousines; and Cornerstone Representative Mark Rokala
The critical mission of this year’s Day on the Hill was to address the overtime wage lawsuits plaguing many operators—an issue that is only going to expand if changes are not made in the Department of Labor’s (DOL) interpretation of chauffeur’s tips as subject to overtime calculations. Operators would like to see this clarified or else be forced to remove the suggested tip from clients’ bills, leaving the chauffeur with diminished wages and increasing the likelihood that a chauffeur will not claim the full amount of cash tips on income tax forms, resulting in a lose-lose situation.
During the legislative briefings prior to visiting The Capitol, attorneys for Commonwealth Worldwide discussed the specifics that led to the company successfully winning a lawsuit on overtime tips. NLA President Diane Forgy of Overland Limousine says, “Their legal briefing was probably one of the most important sessions we have ever conducted. They summarized how these cases were initiated and the arguments made to defend Commonwealth’s position on tips being discretionary and not subject to overtime.”
Other information sessions included Larry Minor of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) who spoke about electronic on-board recording devices and drivers’ hours of service, and speakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties regarding their outlook on the upcoming election season, which is sure to be pivotal to the limousine industry.
That evening, the NLA held a fundraiser for Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), who is the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and, according to Forgy, “a die-hard, no- nonsense champion of small business.” She says it’s imperative for our industry to get behind leaders in Congress who are willing to champion our causes. Following the fundraiser, attendees enjoyed a delicious dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse where wine and conversation flowed freely.
Early the next morning, operators met for breakfast and split off into groups categorized by state. Hunter spent the day with the group from California and Cornerstone Government Affairs—the NLA’s lobbying firm—representative Mark Rokala, traveling from appointment to appointment and listening to them discuss their daily struggles in business. Each staff member was receptive to the DOL overtime issue. Even Senator Barbara Boxer said the idea of tips being counted as wages was “stupid.”
Forgy says that while the Day on the Hill was successful, there is still concern that the DOL will move forward with its position on imposing overtime on gratuities regardless of the operators’ efforts. “We will continue to seek support from our key champions on Capitol Hill and are strategizing with our attorneys and lobbyists on other efforts to successfully make our case with the DOL,” she says.
Look for an in-depth article regarding these overtime wage lawsuits in an upcoming issue of Limousine Digest.
For more information, visit www.limo.org.