‘Quickie election’ rule likely on track despite Senate action

March 05, 2015 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Senate dealt at least a minor blow to the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) rule aimed at speeding up union elections, but the rule’s April 14 effective date likely is still on track.

On March 4, the Senate voted 53-46 to overturn the rule by using its power under the Congressional Review Act. The House also will vote on the rule. Even if the House votes to overturn it, President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the legislation.

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Ruling goes against Nebraska’s same-sex marriage ban

March 03, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

In a ruling that wasn’t a surprise, a federal judge has ruled against Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriage. But the fate of the state’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage awaits an appeal to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon issued the ruling on March 2. It is scheduled to take effect on March 9. Almost immediately after Bataillon’s ruling, the state appealed to the 8th Circuit, which is considered a conservative court, according to Mark Schorr, a senior partner at Erickson & Sederstrom, P.C. in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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New York tipped minimum cash wage to rise to $7.50 an hour

by Charles H. Kaplan

Tipped workers in New York will see the minimum cash wage rise to $7.50 an hour on December 31, 2015, following a February 24 order by New York State Acting Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino.

The order will reduce the tip credit to a $1.50 deduction from New York’s minimum wage of $9 per hour, effective at the end of the year. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo calls the increase necessary to keep full-time tipped workers from living in poverty. However, many employers view the rise in the minimum cash wage as counterproductive.

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Right-to-work bill on the march in Wisconsin

February 26, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Wisconsin is on its way to becoming a right-to-work state. A right-to-work bill passed the state senate on February 25 and is expected to pass the assembly after that body takes it up on March 5. Governor Scott Walker is expected to sign the bill as soon as it passes.

The bill will likely have a negative impact on private-sector union interests in the state. In 2011, Walker eliminated the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions, which resulted in large protests lasting several months in the capitol. The present measure has had little resistance, probably as a result of the timing and the inevitability that right to work will become law.

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Spouses of certain H-1B visa workers now eligible for employment authorization

February 25, 2015 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published final regulations that will extend employment authorization eligibility to spouses of certain nonimmigrant workers who are in the United States on H-1B visas.

The H-1B, or highly-skilled worker, visa is the most commonly discussed and highly sought employment-based nonimmigrant visa. The number of visas available each year is closely capped—20,000 for applicants holding master’s degrees and 65,000 for those holding bachelor’s degrees—so selection is often made using a random lottery. For the 2015 fiscal year, 172,500 applications for H-1B visas were submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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New rule extends FMLA rights to more employees in same-sex marriages

February 24, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

More employees in same-sex marriages will be able to take leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as a result of a new rule taking effect March 27. And while employers in states that recognize same-sex marriage already have been operating under a definition of spouse that includes legally married same-sex partners, employers in other states will need to change their practices.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule that was published in the Federal Register on February 25 that revises the definition of spouse under the law so that eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member regardless of whether they live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, according to the DOL’s explanation of the new rule.

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Judge’s action sparks more uncertainty on Obama’s immigration orders

February 17, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A temporary injunction against President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration is adding to the uncertainty surrounding immigration reform and its impact on employers. On Monday, a federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction blocking Obama’s orders issued last November that would have eased deportation concerns for millions of undocumented immigrants that have been in the country for years. The orders had not yet begun accepting applications.

The injunction, which the Obama administration plans to appeal, is a result of a lawsuit in which 26 states challenged Obama’s authority to take the actions. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen ruled that allowing the immigration orders to be implemented before a full trial would cause irreparable harm to states needing to provide services to the undocumented immigrants eligible for the program’s protections.

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Paid leave among priorities in DOL budget proposal

February 03, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 2 COMMENTS

A $2 billion paid leave initiative as well as millions for enforcement of laws on equal opportunity, wage and hour issues, safety, whistleblowing, and retirement security are among the priorities outlined in President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

On February 2, the DOL announced that the budget includes $2 billion for a Paid Leave Partnership Initiative to help as many as five states launch paid leave programs following the example of California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The DOL announcement said participating states would be eligible to receive funds for the initial setup and half of benefits for three years. The budget also includes a $35 million State Paid Leave Fund to provide technical assistance and support to states as they build the infrastructure needed to launch paid leave programs in the future, according to the DOL announcement.

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OFCCP proposes new rule on sex discrimination guidelines for contractors

January 30, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new proposed rule updating sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors takes aim at what the director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) calls “regulatory anachronism.”

The proposed rule appears in the January 30 Federal Register. The public will have until March 31 to provide comments. A fact sheet and frequently asked questions are available on the OFCCP’s website. The revisions address discrimination based on gender identity and pregnancy as well as sexual harassment.

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Changes to New York’s wage theft act bring good, bad news for employers

by Paul J. Sweeney

An amendment to New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) removes a requirement that private-sector employers provide wage rate notices to current employees by February 1 of each year.

The WTPA requires private-sector employers to provide written wage rate notices to employees and imposes penalties for noncompliance. Until the change was signed into law on December 29, 2014, the written wage rate notices providing information on employees’ rates of pay or calculation of wages—as well as other wage- and benefit-related information—had to be issued by February 1 of each year.

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