Torri E. Sherlin
Torri E. Sherlin
Associate, San Diego
Formerly: Server, Hostess
  • B.A., Behavioral Sciences, Concordia University Texas, cum laude;
  • J.D., University of San Diego School of Law.

I am competitive, a foodie, and an explorer at heart, so it is only natural that I’ve found my legal niche in hospitality law. I found my home in the hospitality industry when I was in college in Austin, Texas, where I worked at Austin Country Club as a hostess and bartender. I loved every aspect of my job at Austin Country Club, and I knew working in hospitality was something I’d like to be involved in as I continued my professional career. Luckily, I found a home after graduation at The University of Texas Golf Club, working the front desk, and assisting in membership and events. From time to time, I’d even get the opportunity to bartend on the golf course, which I always loved doing, because it gave me an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and interact with members in a relaxed and fun environment.

My experience at both Austin Country Club and UT Golf Club provided me a strong foundation for my legal career in the hospitality industry, as I understand the devotion and passion for service that makes a hospitality business successful.

As I mentioned above, I am competitive. This stems from my background as a competitive athlete. In college, I was fortunate to participate in three NCAA sports, as a member of Concordia University’s soccer, cross country and track teams. I ended my athletic campaign at Concordia with a team conference championship, regional rankings and individual all-conference awards. My coaches consistently characterized me as tenacious and that tenacity has propelled me throughout my athletic endeavors as well as in my professional career. As an attorney, I bring that same tenacity to my legal practice – whether I am scouring legal authority to find a solution to a client’s unique issue or advocating on behalf of my client on paper or in the courtroom.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced an intent to rescind the notorious 2011 Federal Tip-Pooling Rule, which currently prevents service-industry employers from allowing front-of-house servers to share tips with back-of-house employees (i.e., cooks and dishwashers). Under the 2011 regulation, tip-pools must only include front of house staff. Given the prevalence of tip-pooling in the service industry, the 2011 rule has been the subject of numerous legal challenges, including two petitions that are currently pending before the United States Supreme Court.

As a result of these legal challenges, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued its regulatory agenda in late July, indicating an intent to rescind the 2011 tip-pooling rule.

What does this mean for you? If the law is revoked, employers who do not utilize a “tip-credit” to meet minimum wage requirements will be permitted to distribute tips amongst both front-and-back of house employees under federal law. Importantly, however, this change will not impact more stringent state laws on this topic. If you have a question about how tip-pooling works in your state, Stokes Wagner is happy to advise.

For more legal updates, check out our update for September 2017!

In a recent newsletter, we reported that the United States Supreme Court would decide the hotly contested issue of whether class waivers are valid in arbitration agreements sometime this year.

The Court recently announced that it would hear oral argument on the issue on October 2, 2017. Stokes Wagner will keep you informed as things progress with this hot issue.

For more legal updates, check out our update for September 2017!

As we wrote in our June update, the Obama administration raised the minimum salary requirement for major “white collar” exemptions from $455/week to $913/week. In July 2017, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) filed its long-awaited reply brief with the 5th Circuit regarding the new minimum requirements. The DOL did not seek to reinstate the Obama’s minimum salary level. The DOL did, however, ask the Court to find that the DOL has authority to set a salary test.

Notably, the DOL did not ask the 5th Circuit to put the case on pause while it revises Obama’s overtime rule. The DOL’s decision to not put this case on pause may inadvertently allow the rule to take place before a replacement is ready. However, many still predict that changes will be made to Obama’s overtime rules.

What does this mean for you? Employers should remain alert for any new rule-making that aims to change the $913 salary threshold.

For more legal updates, check out our update for September 2017!

For the first time ever, the California Labor Commissioner fined a general contractor nearly $250,000 for wage and hour violations committed by its subcontractor, who had been hired for a hotel construction project in Southern California. This decision is significant for businesses that use subcontractors.

After not receiving four weeks of pay, several of the subcontractor’s workers walked off the job and reported the violations to the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner promptly conducted an investigation and found that the subcontractor had paid the workers from an account with insufficient funds and skipped several pay periods for a majority of the workers. The investigation also revealed that the subcontractor failed to pay overtime wages to many of the workers, who worked up to two overtime hours per day.

As a result, the Labor Commissioner issued citations against both the general contractor and the subcontractor for unpaid overtime and minimum wages, waiting time penalties, rest period premiums and civil penalties for work performed over little more than a one-month period. The general contractor contested the fines. However, on May 16, 2017, the hearing officer affirmed that the general contractor was liable as a “client employer” under AB 1897, which holds client employers liable for wage violations of its subcontractors.

What does this mean for you? The impact of this finding will have significant effects on businesses and general contractors who require the work of subcontractors. Please contact Stokes Wagner if you have any questions regarding your independent contractor, general contractor, and/or subcontractor agreements.

For more legal updates, check out our update for September 2017!