Anne-Marie Mizel
Anne-Marie Mizel
Senior Counsel, Pittsburgh
Formerly: Ice cream shop attendant as a teenager
  • B.A., Government, Cornell University;
  • J.D., The Law School at the University of Chicago.

I have always loved the intellectual and rhetorical challenge involved in persuasion. Even as a child, I was quick to look for loopholes in parental rules; as a teenager, I may have taken the tendency a little too far and developed a reputation for being argumentative. Since then, I’ve turned what was a natural tendency toward disputation into a career—researching the most groundbreaking legal precedents, marshaling even the most obscure resources available, and persuading judges, juries, and administrative agencies to look favorably on my clients’ positions. Thanks to the tutelage of Arch Stokes and others in our firm, I have also learned to think outside the box and make arguments that other attorneys might not consider, which has led to some creative and unexpected victories. All of this has added up to a career with many highlights in the form of successes in jury trials, in arbitrations, at the negotiating table, and at the administrative level in both the United States and state bureaucracies.

Though I’ve never worked in the hospitality industry, I have enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the businesses of operating hotels and restaurants, and developed an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into both the management and the work of hospitality. I know that dealing with litigation is everyone’s least favorite part of their job, so I make every effort to handle as much of a case as possible with only the minimal necessary imposition on the client’s valuable work time. When we do have to interact, I make a point always to express appreciation of the client’s assistance.

I am a huge fan of the sport of ice hockey; I play badly myself and religiously watch the excellent play of my favorite professional players – especially, of course, my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins. I also play tennis (less badly) and follow the sport all year long. I have always been an amateur and sometime semi-professional musician, and I continue to sing and play drums and keyboards in the musical project One Hand Clapping, which I enjoy with my husband Ed and a childhood friend here in Pittsburgh. Arch can tell the story of the time he and I and a client crashed a piano lounge populated almost entirely by the friends of an important union official in Washington, D.C. That night I sang some blues with the official’s wife, a talented piano player and singer, and the next day we reached agreement with the union on a long-disputed issue in contract negotiations! “Music has charms to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak.”

I am enthusiastic about the burgeoning hospitality industry in Pittsburgh, with exciting new restaurants and hotels opening seemingly every week, and I look forward to the opportunity to put my experience and creativity to work for many of them.

The Department of Labor has issued new tipping regulations, to take effect on March 1, that make a few significant changes, some of which may be advantageous to hospitality employers.

  1. Employers that do not take a tip credit may now implement a mandatory tip pool that includes employees that do not customarily and regularly receive tips, such as cooks, dishwashers, and other back-of-house staff;

  2. An employer that collects tips to facilitate a tip pool must distribute the tips at least as often as it pays wages;

  3. Whether or not they take a tip credit, employers may not otherwise keep employees’ tips for any purpose, including for sharing by any manager or supervisor in the tip pool;

  4. The new regulations codify recent guidance regarding “related non-tipped duties” for which a tip credit may still be taken. In the past, an “80/20” rule established that tipped employees for whom a tip credit is taken could be assigned no more than 20% of their time to non-tipped but “related” tasks like preparing salads, taking reservations, preparing dining rooms for large parties, and similar chores. The new regulation cites the O*Net website regarding what tasks may be considered “related,” even mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms. The new rule eliminates the “80/20” standard in favor of a “reasonableness” test, i.e., the employer may take a tip credit for a “reasonable” time that an employee spends on such non-tipped tasks immediately before or after performing tipped duties.

  5. New recordkeeping requirements have been imposed on employers that do not take a tip credit but collect employees’ tips to operate a mandatory tip pool; and

  6. New civil money penalties may be imposed for violations of the tipping regulations, minimum wage, and overtime provisions, and the regulations define violations that are “repeated” (employer was previously informed by the Wage and Hour Division or through a final court proceeding that its conduct violated these provisions) or are “willful” (employer knew its conduct was prohibited by these provisions or showed reckless disregard for the FLSA’s requirements).

Restaurants need to make sure to be prepared for these changes, especially the recordkeeping requirements. There are some state and local regulations that might supersede some of these changes. Please make sure to follow all state and local regulations applicable in your area.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.


Exemption from overtime is dependent on two factors: an employee’s salary and an employee’s duties. Effective October 3, 2020, new regulations issued by Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry took effect. These regulations began expanding eligibility for overtime based on salary and updating the task-related tests for determining whether an employee is exempt from overtime.

Salary Threshold. The U.S. Department of Labor has already updated the salary threshold for exemption effective January 1, 2020, and the initial step of Pennsylvania’s three-step process matches that update. However, there will be increases in succeeding years as well, as shown below:

  • $684 per week, $35,568 annually (per federal rule), on January 1, 2020;
  • $780 per week, $40,560 annually on October 3, 2021; and
  • $875 per week, $45,500 annually on October 3, 2022.

The salary threshold will adjust automatically “at a rate equal to the weighted average 10th percentile wages for Pennsylvania workers who work in exempt executive, administrative or professional classifications” starting in 2023. The Department will publish the newly adjusted rates at least 30 days prior to the effective date on its website and in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Up to 10% of the salary threshold can comprise non-discretionary bonuses, incentives, and commissions paid annually, quarterly, or more frequently.

Employees earning less than these amounts as of the dates shown above will generally not be exempt from overtime.

Duties Test. The new regulations bring the duties tests more in line with the already-established federal tests for Executive, Administrative, and Professional exemptions from overtime. For example, the new rules remove the requirement that exempt employees “customarily and regularly” exercise certain executive or managerial duties. Instead, their positions must “include” the exercise of such duties, consistent with the federal regulations.

There are still variations between Pennsylvania and the federal duties tests. For example, Pennsylvania does not include specific exemptions for academic administrators or professionals, computer professionals, or “highly-compensated” employees, among others, and maintains a different definition of outside sales professionals.

Please contact Stokes Wagner to assist you with ensuring that your business in Pennsylvania is complying with the new Pennsylvania regulations.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.


On September 30, employees of private employers in New York state will begin to accrue paid sick leave as a new law signed by Governor Cuomo on April 3, 2020, begins to take effect. The law requires most private employers in New York to provide at least 40 hours of paid sick leave each year to all their workers, including part-timers and casual employees. Employees may begin using the accrued leave effective January 1, 2021, or when they begin employment.

Employers with four or fewer employees and a net income of less than $1 million in a calendar year must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave; employers with 100 or more workers must provide up to 56 hours of paid leave. Workers are entitled to accrue sick time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, though employers may “front load” the 40 or 56 hours and allow employees to use the time throughout their working year. Employees are entitled to carry over up to 40 or 56 hours of unused leave time to the following year, but the unused time need not be paid out on termination of employment.

The sick leave can be used either for the illness of the employee or the illness of a family member of the employee or the employee’s domestic partner. Family members include children (including a foster child or ward), spouses, domestic partners, parents, siblings, grandchildren, or grandparents. Sick leave can also be used when an employee or a family member has been the victim of domestic violence, a family offense (as defined in the Family Court Act § 812), sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking. The employer may set a minimum increment to be used on any given occasion, but that minimum increment may not exceed 4 hours Where such need is foreseeable, an employer may require reasonable advance notice of the intention to use safe/sick time, though not more than seven days’ notice; where not foreseeable, an employer may require notice as soon as practicable.

Employees may use sick time for any mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of the employee or an employee’s family member, regardless of whether the illness has been diagnosed or requires immediate medical care. In addition, sick time can be used when an employee or a family member has been the victim of domestic violence, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking or human trafficking. For an absence of three consecutive days or more, the employer may require reasonable documentation that the use of the time was authorized, but:

“An employer may not require the disclosure of confidential information relating to a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of such employee or such employee’s family member, or information relating to absence from work due to domestic violence, a sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking, as a condition of providing sick leave pursuant to this section.”

Employers are always permitted to provide more leave than is required by the law. Employer PTO policies must provide leave options at least as favorable as those required by the law. Employers may not retaliate against employees for taking leave to which they are entitled, and must hold the employee’s job for them upon their return.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.


On July 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor released new forms for Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave. Their stated purpose is to make the process easier, ensure the completeness of the necessary information, and allow for electronic signatures to reduce contact. The new forms include the following:

1. A Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities Notice (Form WH-381): This is a 4-page form that is essentially interactive, containing portions to be filled in by the employer and others to be filled in by the employee, some of which cannot be filled out until other portions have been completed. It generally informs employees as to the eligibility requirements for FMLA leave, allows them to fill in the information required by the FMLA, and advises the employee of the employer’s obligations under the FMLA.

2. A Designation Notice (Form WH-382): This form is to be sent to the employee by the employer, indicating whether or not the leave has been designated as FMLA leave and, if so, how it will be scheduled. It includes some of the same information that is in the Notice Form. The form includes the sentence, “The FMLA requires that you notify us as soon as practicable if the dates of scheduled leave change, are extended, or were initially unknown.” Employers may want to add specific information about how to make such a notification.

3. Certifications of Health Care Provider for a Serious Health Condition (Forms WH-380-E and 380-F): These forms are to be filled out by all three parties, but their purpose is for the employer to request information to support a request for medical leave. Form 380-E is for the employee’s own health condition; Form 380-F is for the health condition of a family member.

4. Certifications for Military Family Leave (Forms WH-384, 385 and 385-V): These forms similarly may be used for members of the military, family members of the military, and veterans, for leave due to serious health condition of the veteran or the active service member, or for a family member of a veteran or active servicemember either to provide care for a health condition or to invoke other types of leave specific to active service members.

The forms are optional but include all of the information that is required under the law and may ease the process for all parties. The DOL is soliciting comments on the regulations governing the FMLA, including specifically regarding difficult issues like intermittent leave and an employee’s obligation to provide notice to the employer.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.


Many employers have “no solicitation” policies for the workplace, prohibiting employees from soliciting for causes of any kind at work. These policies can be tricky to enforce when union solicitation is at issue. In recent years, the Board had narrowed the definition of “union solicitation” to hold that it does not qualify as “solicitation” unless the person soliciting provided a union authorization card to the listener. Now, the Board has reversed that precedent.

In Wynn Las Vegas, LLC, 369 NLRB No. 91 (May 29, 2020), the Board reversed decisions in Wal-Mart Stores (2003) and ConAgra Foods, Inc. (2014). In these cases, the Board ruled that discussing the possibility of a union would only be solicitation if a union authorization card was offered. In Wynn Las Vegas, the Board held that the employer had the right pursuant to its no-solicitation policy to discipline an employee who distracted a security guard on work time with comments like, “any union is better than no union,” “the dealers did this, you can do it, too,” and “you guys need to have your own voice and. . . just hang in there.” The Board held:

“In the context of a union campaign, solicitation for a union ordinarily means that someone is asking an employee to join a union by signing a union authorization card. However, solicitation is not limited to this act. We hold that solicitation for or against a union also encompasses the act of encouraging employees to vote for or against union representation. Such conduct constitutes union solicitation because the employee is selling or promoting the services of the union (or urging employees to reject those services).” (emphasis added)

It remains to be seen how the Board will continue to interpret the term “union solicitation” in the future, but employers should keep the new decision in mind when investigating claims of solicitation going forward.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.


Beginning on March 15, 2020, employers will have to begin providing their Pittsburgh employees with paid sick leave pursuant to a Pittsburgh ordinance passed in 2015. Now that it has cleared judicial hurdles, the new law will require employers to provide their Pittsburgh employees one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked within the geographical limits of the City of Pittsburgh. Employers with fewer than 15 employees are not required to pay for the leave for one year after implementation of the law, but beginning on March 15, 2021, even small employers will be required to provide paid leave. The Guidelines for Administering Pittsburgh City Code Chapter 626 describe how to count employees for purposes of determining size of employer.

FLSA-exempt employees are presumed to work 40 hours per week unless it is shown that they work less than that, in which case time accrues based on their normal workweek. Accrued sick time may be used for a mental or physical illness or injury of the employee or a family member, or closure of the employer’s place of business, or the employee’s child’s school, due to a public health emergency. An employee should be paid his or her regular hourly rate for the sick time. Calculation guides to hourly rates in specific circumstances are contained in the Guidelines. An employee may begin using sick leave after 90 days of employment with the employer. Unless the use is unforeseeable, advance notice may be required.

An employer can either “front load” available sick time at the beginning of the work year, or else must allow an employee to carry over up to the applicable accrual cap per employee. However, unused sick time need not be paid out after an employee leaves the employer unless the employee is reinstated within 6 months. Employers may not require the employee to find a replacement for the missed time, and retaliation against someone for making use of their sick leave is prohibited.

An employer may require verification of the proper use of the sick leave for absences lasting 3 days or longer. If such verification is not required, the employee should be paid for the time on the next regular payday. Employers must keep records and post notices regarding the employees’ rights to paid sick leave under the Pittsburgh law.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.

On August 9, the National Labor Relations Board released three proposed new rules designed to ease employees’ ability to avoid unionization or decertify unions.

The first amendment modifies the Board’s current policy regarding so-called “blocking charges,” unfair labor practice charges filed by a union to avoid a decertification election. Currently, these elections are delayed until the charges have been resolved. The proposed rule establishes a “vote and impound” procedure in which the election would take place as scheduled, but the votes would not be counted until the blocking charges are resolved.

The second proposed amendment re-establishes the requirement of a notice and a 45-day period during which an employee can file an election petition following an employer’s voluntary recognition of a union. Since 2011, the Board had been following the rule that a union enjoyed a presumption of majority support for six months to a year following such voluntary recognition. The new proposed rule would return to the standard announced in Dana Corporation, 351 NLRB No. 28 (2007).

The third amendment, applicable only to the construction industry, requires extrinsic evidence in addition to contract language to establish a majority of employee support for a union.

The Board’s stated purpose is to restore the ability of employees to “exercise their fundamental statutory right to the timely resolution of questions concerning representation through the preferred means of a Board-conducted secret ballot election.” The current rules make it easier for unions to obtain and hold onto their status as employee representatives without a formal Board election procedure.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.

Recent amendments to Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) ordinance make it even more comprehensive and inclusive. The law provides employees of eligible employers with paid sick time as well as “safe” time to deal with situations such as domestic abuse or sexual assault, or closure of work or school for any health-related reason.

Eligibility: Work-study employees are now eligible.


  • Waiting Period: Employees may now use PSST after 90 days of employment (previously 180 days of employment).
  • “Family Members” now includes children of any age, siblings, and grandparents.
  • Increment Use: PSST may be measured in the smallest increments in which compensation is tracked, rather than limiting it to 15-minute or hourly increments.

No More CBA Waivers: Starting January 1, 2019, employees may not waive PSST with collective bargaining waivers.

Caps: Employers may no longer cap an employee’s PSST, but caps for carryover of unused PSST remain in place.

Employer Verification: Seattle employers may still seek verification of the need for PSST for more than three consecutive days, but the ordinance adds a caveat prohibiting unreasonable burden or expense on the employee, or any intrusion on privacy requirements.

Record-keeping: Employer Record-keeping requirements have expanded to include accrued but unused PSST, and reductions donated or not carried over, in addition to each employee’s used PSST.

Rate of Pay: While the previous ordinance excluded tips and commissions from the hourly amount that must be paid for PSST, the current ordinance now simply requires payment of the “normal hourly rate”, removing any language that specifically excludes excluding tips and commissions.

Food-and-drink establishments also may no longer substitute shift changes for use of PSST or require an employee to find a replacement during PSST.

Posting requirements have expanded to include employees’ rights to PSST and to be free of retaliation for its use.

Employers should review their Paid Sick and Safe Time policies to ensure compliance with the new ordinance. Please contact Stokes Wagner with any questions or concerns on how to enact these policies.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here - and be sure to check out more updates in our Stokes Wagner Quarterly Legal Update!

On June 6, 2018, the NLRB’s new General Counsel, Peter B. Robb, issued guidance regarding the Board’s current policies on Employee Handbooks, expanding on the Board’s recent decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (Dec. 14, 2017), and taking a more employer-friendly approach.

The Board has specified three categories of rules:

Category 1: Rules that are Generally Lawful to Maintain. These rules include rules against rudeness, photography, recording of conversations, insubordination, roughhousing, nepotism, and defamation of individual colleagues, as well as rules protecting confidential information and the use of company logos. These rules could be interpreted as outlawing certain protected conduct; however, the Board found that employees are unlikely to be chilled by these rules, so the rules are generally lawful as written.

Category 2: Rules Warranting Individual Scrutiny. These rules include broad conflict-of-interest and confidentiality rules, rules prohibiting disparagement of the or the making of false or inaccurate statements, rules banning off-duty conduct that might harm the employer, and rules regulating speaking to the media or using the employer’s name. Case-by-case evaluations determine whether Category 2 rules transgress an employee’s rights under the NLRA. If so, further evaluation is required to determine whether the transgression outweighs the justification for such rules.

Category 3: Rules that are Unlawful to Maintain. These rules enforce confidentiality with respect to employee wages and working conditions and “ban[sic]{:target=”blank”} membership in an outside organization that might interfere with work” (potentially applying to unions). Barring a special circumstance, these employee policies are unlawful.

What Does This Mean For You?

When creating employee policies and reviewing employee handbooks, employers should consider whether the policies fall into one of the above three categories. In dealing with employee concerns and defending employee lawsuits, employers must consider what actions are necessary based on the category of the rule in question.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here - and be sure to check out more updates in our Stokes Wagner Quarterly Legal Update!

On January 18, 2018, California’s Department of Industrial Relations Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board, approved a proposed regulation requiring hotel employers to maintain “an effective, written, musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP) that addresses hazards specific to housekeeping.” The regulation requires the employer to assess the risks, implement a program to address them in cooperation with any housekeepers’ union representative (the regulation was based in large part on a proposal set forth by UNITE HERE Local 11), train the housekeepers with respect to the MIPP, and ensure the housekeepers’ implementation of the MIPP. Employers are also required to keep records of the evaluation giving rise to the employer’s program, and the steps taken to implement it.

The approved standard has been filed with California’s Office of Administrative Law to ensure compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act. The standard goes into effect on July 1, 2018.

What does this mean for you? Stokes Wagner recently prepared a memorandum outlining the approved requirements. Please contact us with any further questions.

For more legal news, check out our quarterly newsletter for April 2018!

In July 2016, Santa Monica enacted two minimum wage ordinances, one specific to hotel workers (the “Hotel Workers Living Wage Ordinance”), and the other to any employees of an employer in Santa Monica (“Minimum Wage Ordinance”). The hotel worker minimum wage is currently $15.66 per hour; the minimum wage for employees covered by the other ordinance is currently $12 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $10 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. Both are scheduled to rise in July 2018 (for hotel workers indexed to inflation, for other employees to $13.25 and $12.00, respectively).

Late last year, the City of Santa Monica announced its first conviction for a violation of the minimum wage ordinances, a hotel-based retail that entered “no contest” pleas to three misdemeanor counts of failing to pay the required minimum wage and one count of unlawful retaliation. The plea agreement calls for 36 months of probation, the payment of $11,000 in back wages plus $3,000 to compensate the City for its investigation costs, and 150 hours of community service.

What does this mean for you? It is imperative that all employers, especially those in the hospitality industry, stay up to date with ever-changing local minimum wage requirements.

For more legal news, check out our quarterly newsletter for April 2018!

Starting January 1, 2018, San Francisco requires employers to ensure that any space offered for lactation also includes a place to sit, a surface on which to place a breast pump and/or other personal items, access to electricity, and a nearby refrigerator in which the employee can store expressed milk. An employee’s lactation break time may be unpaid if it is not taken within or during an already-specified paid break. The Ordinance strictly prohibits retaliation against anyone who requests lactation accommodation or files a complaint with San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (“OLSE”).

The Ordinance sets forth building permit guidelines for the construction or renovation of lactation spaces. The private space may be used for other purposes – even among multiple employers – as long as there is room for all who need it, lactation is given priority over other uses, and other employees are aware of the room’s purpose.

What does this mean for you? Employers within San Francisco city limits must develop a lactation accommodation policy that (1) explains how an employee may request lactation accommodations, (2) requires the employer to respond within five (5) business days, and (3) allows for any necessary interactive process between employee and employer. Employers must also maintain written records of these interactions for three (3) years. Please click here for more details on such guidelines.

In 2018, the OLSE will first issue warnings and notices to employers who violate this Ordinance. Thereafter, the OLSE may impose a $500 administrative penalty, and a $50 penalty for each day the violation continues.

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