Legal Alerts Archive
The Florida legislature enacted three bills this session relating to education issues in Florida. Although none have yet been signed by Governor Crist, all three are expected to be signed. Only one (the Ethics in Education Act) has an immediate impact on Florida private schools; it contains a series of requirements that private schools need to plan for. The other two either pertain only to public schools (the bullying law), or reflect a pilot program not yet widely applicable to private schools (extracurricular activities). Here is a brief summary of each.
Today Gov. Mark Sanford will sign into law the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act. The legislation places South Carolina among the few states that require public and private employers to take affirmative steps to verify the legal status of new employees.
The Supreme Court delivered its decision in CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries holding that Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 unequivocally includes claims of retaliation by those pursuing race and color claims under the statute. The Court's ruling has significant consequences for employers, including a longer period of time in which aggrieved employees may file suit, exposure to uncapped damages, as well as providing federal remedies for a greater number of employees who, until this decision, may not have been covered by federal anti-retaliation statutes.
After years of lobbying by gun rights groups in its favor, and by business associations in opposition, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the "Business Security and Employee Privacy Act" on May 14. This Act expands the areas in which holders of firearm licenses may legally carry concealed weapons – and places some limitations on employers' rights.
On July 1, 2009, New Jersey will join the short list of two other states â€“ California and Washington â€“ that have enacted laws providing paid leave for employees who miss work to care for family members unable to care for themselves, or to care for newly-born or adopted children.
Across the country, states continue to enact their own employment-related immigration legislation, including legislation requiring certain employers to use E-Verify to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees. Currently, seven states have implemented laws requiring certain employers, and state contractors to use E-Verify. The seven states mandating the use of E-Verify are Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island.
After languishing in Congress for 12 years, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) has now been passed by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. President Bush has publicly supported the legislation and is expected to sign it soon.
A recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals concerning restrictive covenant agreements (such as non-compete agreements and non-solicitation of customer agreements), may make enforcement of even recently drafted agreements much more difficult. In light of this decision, it may be wise to consider revising your restrictive covenant agreements which apply to Georgia employees. Trujillo v. Great Southern Equipment Sales.
- New Focus on Healthcare Employers and on Lone Star State4.7.08
It has been no secret that high-profile unions are devoting considerable resources to their attempts to organize employees in the healthcare industry. Bolstered by success in California, New York, Illinois and Florida, the California Nurses Association (CNA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have now set their sights on the vast, relatively untapped state of Texas.
Even though the two unions are using different tactics, there is no doubt that the Lone Star State, with its huge healthcare economy and relative scarcity of nurses, is a prize that both the CNA and SEIU dearly covet.
Effective March 27, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security has increased penalties levied on employers for various employment-related immigration violations by approximately 25% in order to keep up with rising inflation.
Today the Supreme Court delivered its opinion in Sprint v. Mendelsohn reinforcing its long standing rule that district courts are afforded wide discretion on evidentiary matters. Practitioners were disappointed that the Court provided little, if any, guidance on the substantive issue before it. Instead the decision focuses more on the deference that appellate courts must give to the decisions of lower federal district courts, and holds only that admission of "me too" evidence is fact based and "depends on many factors...."
In a pair of decisions issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on two topics that impact employers across the country. The Court made it easier for workers to bring claims against their employers for losses to their 401(k) plans, while also clearing the way for employers to enforce arbitration agreements with their employees.
Over the weekend, the state finalized a new law that may end up having a dramatic impact on several important industries. Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed into effect a much stricter driver’s license requirement that forces applicants to prove American citizenship or legal immigrant status before getting a new or renewed driver’s license. It goes into effect on July 1, 2008, and could have far-reaching consequences in the agriculture, construction and hospitality industries, among others.
- Enhanced Leave Rights Extended to Close Relatives of Service Members1.30.08
This past week, the House of Representatives passed a revised version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which was primarily intended to address concerns over litigation surrounding the Gulf War. But one section of that bill included provisions extending FMLA protection to close family relatives of uniformed service members. The Senate subsequently passed the same bill by a resounding vote of 91 to 3. On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed the bill into law, and some of its provisions are already in effect.
On January 17, 2008, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Julie Myers announced ICE’s 2008 enforcement strategy for ensuring that employers are complying with immigration laws. Two aspects of this enforcement strategy are particularly relevant to employers. First, Myers stated that ICE will not bring criminal charges against employers who hire illegal aliens unless this practice has become a part of their business model. This means that ICE will not bring criminal sanctions against employers who accidentally hire an illegal alien. This provides clarification to Myers’ previous statements that ICE will bring criminal sanctions against "systemic violators" of immigration laws.
January 1, 2008, is the effective date of the Earned Income Tax Credit Information Act (the Act). This legislation evolved from a California Franchise Tax Board study showing that approximately 460,000 California families qualified, but did not file, for the federal earned income tax credit (EITC.) The EITC Act requires employers on an annual basis to notify their employees of their potential eligibility for the EITC.
New Jersey employers with 100 or more employees contemplating a transfer or closure of operations that impacts 50 or more employees at a New Jersey facility must comply with the recently enacted Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (NJ Warn Act).
Pursuant to a regulation implemented by the Department of Labor last summer, all permanent labor certifications approved on or after July 16, 2007 must be filed within 180 calendar days of the approval. Likewise, all permanent labor certifications approved prior to July 16, 2007 must be filed within 180 calendar days of July 16, 2007. This means that employers have until Saturday, January 12, 2008 to file a permanent residence petition (Form I-140) for any labor certification approved on or before July 16, 2007.
On January 3, 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received a sufficient number of H-2B petitions to reach the congressionally mandated cap of 33,000 for the second half of FY 2008. USCIS determined that January 2, 2008 is the "final receipt date" for new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates before October 1, 2008. USCIS will reject any petition for new H-2B workers received after January 2, 2008 requesting employment start dates before October 1, 2008.
As previously reported, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") released the revised I-9 form on November 7, 2007. Employers are required to use the newly revised I-9 form no later than December 26, 2007. Employers who do not use the revised I-9 form on or after December 26, 2007 will be subject to all applicable fines and penalties under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
On December 5, 2007, Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") Secretary Michael Chertoff released a statement confirming that DHS filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that the court lift the injunction against implementing the DHS no-match rule. On October 10, 2007, a federal court in California issued a preliminary injunction preventing DHS and the Social Security Administration ("SSA") from implementing the rule entitled Safe-Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter. The court enjoined SSA from sending out the no-match letters because the letters were to include DHS language threatening possible criminal and civil liability for employers that failed to respond to the letters.
Last August, Gov. Blagojevich signed an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act that made significant changes to the State's employment law landscape. The changes go into effect on January 1, 2008, and will have considerable implications for Illinois employers.
On November 26, 2007, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") published a notice in the Federal Register that requires employers to use the newly revised I-9 form no later than December 26, 2007. Employers who do not use the revised I-9 form on or after December 26, 2007 will be subject to all applicable fines and penalties under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
After an eight-year delay and seemingly endless controversy, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a Final Rule on November 14, clarifying when an employer must pay for employee Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Assuming there are no further challenges, OSHA proposes to begin enforcement next May.
Yesterday, Mark Hinkle, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration ("SSA"), reported that SSA will not issue mis-match letters to employers this year based on the 2006 tax year information. Hinkle stated that SSA decided not to send the mis-match letters this year as result of the current litigation challenging the implementation of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") rule which would use the Social Security mis-match records as a tool for immigration enforcement.
On November 7, 2007, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the revised I-9 form and the updated Handbook for Employers, Instructions for Completing the Form I-9. The revised I-9 form reduces the number of documents employers may accept for newly hired employees during the employment eligibility verification process in compliance with the reduction requirements of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
Effective January 1, 2008, the California Minimum Wage will increase from $7.50 to $8.00 per hour, a 6.7% increase. This increase will trigger several automatic changes in your minimum-compensation requirements.
On October 10th, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") rule that would use Social Security mis-match records as a tool for immigration enforcement.
Additional Immigration News
~ ICE Increases Work-Site Enforcement
~ Increased Processing Times for Employment-Based Permanent Residence Petitions
~ DOL to Increase Audits for PERM Applications
~ H-2B Quota Reached for First Half of FY 2008
In a decision that overturns more than 40 years of precedent, the National Labor Relations Board announced yesterday that the "recognition bar," which precludes a decertification election for 12 months after an employer recognizes a union, does not apply when that recognition is voluntary, based on a card check. Dana Corp.; Metaldyne Corp. 351 NLRB No. 28 (2007).
As DHS increases enforcement efforts and threatens criminal sanctions for immigration violations, employers need to improve their compliance with federal immigration requirements. Our Electronic I-9 Solution helps protect your business by making it easier to complete and store I-9 forms.
The California Supreme Court ended the summer with a bang by announcing two major decisions which could have far-reaching effects. Here is a brief overview of the implications of each case to California employers.
The final mismatch or "no match" regulation has been published in the August 15, 2007 issue of the Federal Register. Thus, the rule will be in effect September 14, 2007. Employers need to get ready now.
The Labor Department has released the new official minimum wage poster, which takes effect on July 24, 2007. As of that day, the current version will no longer be valid. You can get a copy of the new poster by visiting our website and clicking the links provided. Please be sure to have the proper poster displayed before the deadline.
For additional information about FLSA issues or any other labor, employment, benefits, or immigration issue, please contact your Fisher Phillips LLP attorney.
Effective July 1, 2007, certain Florida employers will be required to offer leave to employees who are victims of domestic violence. The new law applies to employers who employ 50 or more employees.
One of the provisions of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law taking effect on July 1, 2007 is that an employer with 11 or more full-time equivalent employees employed in the State, must adopt a written Section 125 cafeteria plan in order to be exempt from the Free Rider Surcharge.
On July 1, 2007, the Nevada minimum wage will increase to $5.30 per hour or $6.33 per hour (depending on whether the employer provides qualified health insurance benefits). On July 24, 2007, the federal minimum wage will increase to $5.85 per hour.
On Friday, May 25, President Bush signed new minimum-wage legislation which Congress passed a day earlier.
Recent legislation in Oregon and Washington will have a major impact on all Northwest employers, and there are likely more changes on the immediate horizon. This Legal Alert will point out the most significant changes to the law in both states.
On April 17, 2007, the Treasury Department released final regulations interpreting the nonqualified deferred compensation requirements of Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code. Nonqualified deferred compensation that fails to satisfy the requirements of Section 409A is subject to punitive tax treatment and penalties.
On April 1, 2007, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting new H-1B visa applications for FY 2008, for employment that will begin on October 1, 2007.
Georgia's employers have a duty to protect their employees under federal and state law. This duty includes ensuring that employees and customers are safe from violence. Your ability to meet that duty is under attack.
During its 2006 regular session, the state legislature voted to replace the Louisiana Office Indoor Clean Air Law with laws that do not merely regulate smoking in office environments, but which also regulate or ban outright smoking in many places open to the public such as hotels, restaurants, and retail establishments. The Louisiana Smokefree Air Act, as the legislature dubbed the new collection of laws, became effective January 1, 2007.
Although many hospitals, clinics and other entities already have similar programs in effect, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), signed by the President in 2006, imposes yet another oversight requirement that healthcare providers must soon fulfill.
Effective February 5, 2007, all employers with employees working within the City and County of San Francisco must comply with a new San Francisco ordinance, which requires employers â€“ regardless of size â€“ to provide paid sick leave.
- Table Game Supervisors Found To Be Exempt12.6.06
In a case that has significant implications for the gaming industry, a federal judge in the Northern District of Indiana has ruled in Harrah's favor on overtime claims brought by over 30 Table Game Supervisors employed at its former East Chicago facility. Allen, et. al. v. Harrah's.
With a majority of voters voting yes on Question 6 last election day, the Constitution of the State of Nevada has been amended to include a new minimum wage standard. Beginning on November 28, 2006, employers in Nevada will be required to pay a minimum wage of either $5.15 or $6.15 per hour depending on whether health insurance benefits are provided to employees. But the new amendment will have a greater impact on Nevada wage and hour law than simply raising the minimum wage â€“ it will also lead to changes in administration and enforcement.
- You Need Not Be Present To Win: Store Managers May Meet Executive Exemption Without Constant Physical Presence11.6.06