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Legal Alerts Archive

  • 5.22.14

    On May 22, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act into law. The Act, effective immediately, prohibits employers from requesting or requiring access to the personal online accounts of applicants or employees. Louisiana joins 11 other states that have already passed similar legislation. The Act also applies to educational institutions, which are prohibited from requesting or requiring the same information from students or prospective students.

  • 4.22.14

    In a highly anticipated decision, the Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s Proposal 2, which amended the Michigan Constitution to prohibit racial preferences in admissions to public schools and government programs.

  • 4.10.14

    President Obama signed two important documents this week that impact many employers. First, he signed an Executive Order protecting employees who disclose their compensation to co-workers. Second, he sent a Presidential Memorandum to the Department of Labor directing DOL to issue regulations requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to submit compensation data on their workforce by the categories of sex and race. Federal contractors who are subject to oversight by the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) have been maintaining compensation data for several years and providing it to the OFCCP when audited. The new regulations may require more public disclosure than federal contractors had previously been required to make. Though both documents address compensation, they differ greatly from each other.

  • 3.31.14

    Because of a recent court decision, federal construction contractors must comply with several new regulations that many consider burdensome. An effort to exempt construction contractors from some of the new regulations was tossed out by a federal judge. Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. v. Patricia A. Shiu, et al.

  • 3.25.14

    On March 25, 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that a certain type of severance payment known as supplemental unemployment compensation constituted “wages” subject to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes. The Court’s decision resolves a split of authority between U.S. Courts of Appeals, and affirms the Court’s broad interpretation of “wages” for purposes of both FICA and income tax withholding requirements. United States v. Quality Stores, Inc.

  • 3.10.14

    On March 5, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an arbitration panel’s award and broadened arbitrators’ authority to determine preliminary issues in arbitration agreements. Although the case concerned a treaty dispute between a corporation and a sovereign nation, the Court’s decision reframed the issue as an arbitration dispute and continued to follow well-established precedent that favors arbitration while limiting judicial intervention of such agreements. This ruling is good news for employers. BG Group v. Republic of Argentina

  • 3.5.14

    Yesterday, in a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision greatly expanding the whistleblower protections of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) to cover employees of private entities contracting with publicly traded companies.

  • 2.12.14

    A recent Massachusetts Superior Court decision held that employers risk losing trade secrets and confidential information if they do not protect that information from independent contractors. The court held that employers who do not take active steps to protect their proprietary information from disclosure cannot recover from independent contractors who take that information for their own purposes. C.R.T.R. v. Lao

  • 2.5.14

    The National Labor Relations Board has just announced that the agency would be reissuing its proposed “quickie election” amendments to rules governing representation case procedures. The news came in the form of a press release, describing plans to publish a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, incorporating changes that “are identical to the representation procedure changes first proposed in June of 2011.”

  • 1.27.14

    On January 27, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the time spent by employees donning and doffing (putting on and taking off) certain protective gear is not compensable under Section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This ruling will significantly impact the ability of employees to seek compensation for the donning and doffing of certain items in the unionized setting. Additionally, the Court made comments about the de minimis doctrine which could well impact employers in the nonunionized environment. Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp.

  • 1.13.14

    Going into 2014, OSHA is continuing its focus of inspecting and, when alleged violations found, citing employers under its recordkeeping standard. Proper recordkeeping has become more critical to employers since OSHA recently issued a proposed rule to publish, in certain cases, the injury and illness data provided by employers.

  • 1.6.14

    On January 1, 2014, the Oregon minimum wage increased $8.95 to $9.10 an hour. Oregon’s minimum wage is the second-highest in the country, behind Washington.

  • 1.6.14

    On January 1, 2014, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment increased the minimum wage in Colorado from $7.78 to $8.00 per hour and from $4.76 to $4.98 for tipped employees.

  • 1.6.14

    New York State has raised the hourly minimum wage of most employees effective December 31, 2013 from $7.25 to $8.00. Additional increases are coming on December 31, 2014, and again on December 31, 2015. An important provision is that, if at any time federal law establishes a higher minimum wage, the state minimum wage will be increased to match the federal.

    Allowances or credits are permitted for tipped employees, with amounts varying depending on industry. 

  • 1.3.14

    On January 1, 2014, the Missouri minimum wage increased from $7.35 to $7.50 and from $3.68 to $3.75 for tipped employees.

  • 1.3.14

    Ohio is starting 2014 with an increase to its minimum wage. On January 1, 2014, Ohio raised its minimum wage ten cents, from $7.85 to $7.95 per hour. Tipped employees hourly minimum wage increased five cents, from $3.93 to $3.98.

  • 1.3.14

    On January 1, a voter-approved amendment to the New Jersey Constitution went into effect that raised the state minimum wage for almost all employees from $7.25 per hour to $8.25.

  • 1.2.14

    In January 1, 2014, the minimum wage for employees working in Florida rose to $7.93 per hour. This represents an hourly increase of $0.14 over the current Florida minimum wage. The increase is tied to the rate of inflation over the prior year.

  • 12.30.13

    On January 1, 2014, the Arizona minimum wage will increase from $7.80 to $7.90.

  • 12.20.13

    New Jersey employers with 50 or more employees will be required to post and distribute a gender equity notice (“Notice”) to employees in New Jersey beginning January 6, 2014.

  • 12.16.13

    The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld a contractual clause that limited a participant’s ability to file a lawsuit pursuant to a long-term disability (LTD) policy.  The contractual limitation was three years from the date proof of loss was required.  The decision confirms that there is no requirement under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that such a contractual clause be based on the time period after administrative remedies are exhausted and a participant is actually able to bring a lawsuit.  

  • 12.2.13

    Earlier this year Gov. Brown signed into law an expansion of the state’s “paid family leave” benefit. While the new law does not become effective until July 1, 2014, already media outlets have reported that employees will have expanded rights to paid time off from work next year. This is only partially correct and it continues to spread the confusion over what “paid family leave” really means.

  • 11.25.13

    Beginning January 1, 2014, Portland, Oregon will require most employers to offer paid sick leave to their employees. The following list of Frequently Asked Questions will help employers get up to speed with the ordinance and accompanying administrative regulations.  

  • 11.12.13

    OSHA has announced a proposed rule which will require establishments with 20 or more employees in certain industries with high injury and illness rates, to electronically submit their summary of work-related injuries and illnesses to OSHA every year. The change may affect between 450,000 and 1,500,000 sites. The first proposed new requirement is for establishments with more than 250 employees (and who are already required to keep records) to electronically submit the records on a quarterly basis to OSHA.

  • 11.1.13

    The IRS handed healthcare flexible spending account participants an early Christmas present on Halloween when it modified cafeteria plan "use-it-or-lose-it" rules so that $500 can be carried over from one year to the next in FSA accounts. Under Notice 2013-71, these accounts may now be modified so up to $500 can be carried over to defray qualifying medical costs in the next year. The rule change followed sharp criticism of the "use-it-or-lose-it" requirement, and concerns that participants were undergoing unnecessary medical procedures at the end of the year to avoid forfeiting account balances.

  • 10.31.13

    Under the San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance signed  on October, 30, 2013 by Mayor Edward Lee, parents and caretakers have been afforded the right to request modified work schedules, such as a change in start times, part-time and part-year schedules, telecommuting and schedule predictability.

  • 10.31.13

    This summer, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law "SharedWork Ohio," an initiative designed to help workers and employers alike by preventing layoffs. The "SharedWork Ohio" program gives Ohio employers new flexibility to keep their workforce intact when experiencing a downturn in business.

  • 10.7.13

    On September 26, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill which entitles personal attendants in California to overtime pay. Previously, Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order 15 provided a complete overtime exemption for all such workers. Beginning January 1, 2014, AB 241 mandates that personal attendants be paid one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of nine hours in any workday and 45 hours in a workweek. Personal attendants include any persons employed by a private householder or by any third-party employer recognized in the healthcare industry to work in a private household, to supervise, feed, or dress a child, or a person who by reason of advanced age, physical disability, or mental deficiency needs supervision.

  • 10.1.13

    Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that will increase California’s minimum wage in two phases. Beginning July 1, 2014, the minimum wage for California employees will rise from the current $8 per hour to $9 per hour. On January 1, 2016, the minimum wage will increase to $10 per hour.  

  • 9.18.13

    On September 17, the U.S. Labor Department (DOL) announced that it will be issuing a final rule that will bring significant changes to the “companionship” exemption in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s Section 13(a)(15).

  • 9.12.13

    In a stunning decision, a state court judge has ruled that Indiana’s hard-won right-to-work law is unconstitutional. The reasoning is strained and rests on the rather peculiar notion that “just compensation” for a union means forcing all employees to pay dues, whether they support the union’s aims or not.

  • 9.11.13

    With the Health Insurance Marketplace created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) set to open its figurative doors for enrollment on October 1, 2013, employers face a new obligation. Nearly all employers must distribute a notice of coverage options to their employees no later than October 1, 2013; and after that date, to all new hires within 14 days of their start date. The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued two model notices that may be used to meet this obligation. One notice should be used by employers who offer employer-sponsored health insurance to some or all of their employees, and the other should be used by employers who do not offer coverage.

  • 7.31.13

    Following on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor, a federal district court in Pennsylvania recently held that the same-sex spouse of a deceased employee is entitled to receive death benefits under the employer’s ERISA-qualified plan. Cozen O’Connor v. Tobits.

  • 7.22.13

    The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), the highest court in Massachusetts, ruled on Friday that the Commonwealth’s antidiscrimination statute, which bars employment discrimination on the basis of handicap, prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee based on the handicap of a person associated with the employee. Flagg v. Alimed, Inc.

  • 7.19.13

    The California Supreme Court denied review of a California Court of Appeal case, which held that piece-rate-paid employees are entitled to separate hourly pay for “waiting” time. Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors.

  • 7.19.13

    The California Supreme Court denied review of a California Court of Appeal case, which held that piece-rate-paid employees are entitled to separate hourly pay for “waiting” time. Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors.

  • 7.17.13

    A bold threat by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to change Senate filibuster rules to reduce the number of votes necessary to approve Executive branch nominees – the so-called “nuclear option” – helped to ensure that the National Labor Relations Board will continue to advance its pro-labor agenda, at least through the current Administration’s term. 

  • 7.3.13

    On July 2, 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a statement that enforcement of the employer “play or pay” mandate penalties under the Internal Revenue Code – and therefore the coverage obligations to avoid such penalties – will be delayed one year to 2015.  This is a significant event for a number of reasons.

  • 7.2.13

    As of July 1, 2013, all private employers in Georgia with more than ten employees should be enrolled in and using E-Verify (the federal employment verification system) for new hires or re-hires.

  • 6.26.13

    As the 2012 term of the U. S. Supreme Court comes to a close, the Justices left the most politically and emotionally charged decisions for last. Today, the Court handed down its decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor. A companion case challenging California’s Proposition 8 was remanded to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for lack of standing by the proponents of the law in Hollingsworth v. Perry. While the political and cultural impact of the decisions will be felt nationwide, there will also be some direct effects felt by employers.

  • 6.24.13

    On June 24, 2013, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified that an employee alleging unlawful retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must prove that a retaliatory motive was the “but-for” cause of an adverse employment action. In other words, the employee must show that the employer would not have taken the adverse employment action but for an improper motive. The decision, which will make it more difficult for employees to prevail on retaliation claims, is a significant victory for employers. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar. 

  • 6.24.13

    Today, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that upheld a race-conscious student admissions process used by the University of Texas.  The decision clarifies earlier Supreme Court decisions holding that, although suspect, race may be considered in the admissions process if the process meets strict scrutiny requirements. Fisher v. University of Texas.

  • 6.21.13

    Insurers and plan sponsors of self-funded plans, must soon start paying a fee to support the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust. This was established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; the trust finances the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

  • 6.20.13

    The U.S. Supreme Court held today that courts cannot invalidate arbitration agreements which waive class actions, unless there is an express congressional statement that class-action proceedings are so necessary to a federal claim as to preempt the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant.

  • 6.19.13

    Unless it is necessary to comply with a state or federal law or regulation, effective October 1, 2013, it will be illegal for a Nevada employer to require, request, or even suggest that an employee or a prospective employee disclose the user name, password or other access information to his or her personal social media account.

  • 6.18.13

    Employers frequently use credit reports (sometimes referred to as “consumer reports”) as a tool in determining whether to hire, promote or retain an employee. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law, allows an employer to deny employment based on the content of a consumer report, but requires various notices and disclosures, e.g., obtaining the applicant or employee’s authorization before requesting a credit report, giving the applicant or employee notice and information before taking any potential adverse action based on the report, and giving notice and information if an adverse action is actually taken based in whole or in part on the content of the report. In addition to complying with the FCRA, employers must comply with state laws which may provide additional protections.

  • 6.17.13

    Some employers have decided that it is beneficial to try to avoid public lawsuits and arbitrate disputes they may have with their employees. Such employers typically require employees to agree to arbitration at the time of employment by including such language in their employment applications or other documents that are signed by employees.

  • 6.11.13

    On May 3, 2013, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law the new Family Care Act (FCA). The law attempts to broaden the qualifying reasons for employee leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

  • 6.10.13

    Today a unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the standard of review federal courts will use when reviewing an arbitrator’s decision about whether parties contemplated class arbitration when they entered into a broadly-worded mandatory-arbitration provision. Though the case involved an arbitration provision outside the employment context, this decision has implications for employers using mandatory arbitration agreements in employment contracts and other agreements with employees.  

  • 5.28.13

    In a new letter of interpretation publically released on April 5, 2013  the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced for the first time that during an OSHA inspection of non-union worksites, employees can be represented by anyone selected by the employees including outside union agents.

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