Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 2016 SDADA Column

Do Americans know how lucky they really are? They have Uncle Sam to protect them from themselves.

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a survey of consumers regarding their experiences trading in, buying and financing vehicles at dealerships. The commission will conduct 40 interviews with consumers that are 90 minutes in length.

In 2015, there were over 38 million used vehicle transactions and over 17 million new vehicle transactions in our country. The FTC will conduct 40 interviews and will then have a complete understanding of the automotive market in America!

This survey is a repeat of the one the FTC conducted five years ago. That survey found no systemic problems with the auto-retailing sector. Processes have certainly gone to hell since that survey!

I know I can be a bit cynical but perhaps we should survey health care patients, attorney clients, insurance company customers, mobile phone customers, etc. Is there no room for improvement in any of these transactions? Some would suggest that market forces and competition would be very good at improving and streamlining the processes.

At some point, perhaps consumers must be responsible for their own choices. There are many options in  the marketplace. Consumers have control over where they buy. That can (and should) be the ultimate regulator!

A Peek Behind the CFPB Curtain

This "must see" video ( takes a somewhat humorous look at the shenanigans going on with the CFPB in their attempt to regulate and punish those involved in auto finance lending. This is your government at work!

Supreme Court Issues Pro-Dealer Opinion in Service Writer Overtime Case 

The Supreme Court issued an opinion in Encino Motorcars v. Navarro, vacating a 2015 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that had held that dealership “service writers” are not covered by the federal “salesmen” exemption from overtime pay. In doing so, the Supreme Court expressly rejected a 2011 U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) interpretative regulation that service writers/advisors are not "salesmen" exempt from overtime. In particular, the Court faulted DOL for failing to give adequate weight to dealerships’ reliance interests during the rulemaking process, and for failing to provide a “reasoned explanation” for the abrupt change of policy. The Supreme Court’s decision requires the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its prior decision consistent with the language of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) without giving “controlling weight” to the DOL’s 2011 regulation.

In March 2015, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that service writers are not exempt from overtime as “salesmen.” That decision was based on the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion that preamble language found in a 2011 DOL rulemaking constituted an interpretation of the FLSA entitled to legal deference. Together with the state dealer associations covered by the Ninth Circuit, NADA filed an amicus brief in support of a certiorari petition with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted “cert” in January and heard oral argument in April. Former Solicitor-General Paul Clement expertly (and successfully) argued on behalf of the petitioner with NADA’s amicus brief being cited several times during the argument and in the Opinion itself.

Overtime FAQ for Dealers

As I mentioned in this space last month, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a rule that dramatically increases the salary and compensation levels that must be met in order for "white collar" dealership employees to be exempt from overtime. NADA has issued a new FAQ publication on the white collar rule's impacts on dealerships and their employees.

OSHA Issues New Injury and Illness Electronic Reporting Mandate 

Starting in 2017, certain dealerships must begin submitting employee workplace injury and illness records to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). All dealerships must maintain reasonable procedures by which employees can report work related injuries and illnesses promptly and accurately. The new reporting rule builds on existing mandates requiring dealerships with 10 or more employees to accurately record and post employee workplace injury and illness using OSHA Forms. In the future, these forms must be made available to OSHA and state labor inspectors upon request. Car dealerships with fewer than 250 employees at a single "establishment" are not required to submit forms to OSHA.