Massachusetts ruling opens door to discrimination suits over medical marijuana

by Erica E. Flores

A new ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court should be a warning to employers in the state that refuse to tolerate medical marijuana use by employees with a disability.

On July 17, the state high court ruled in Barbuto v. Advantage Sales & Marketing, LLC, that an employee who was fired for failing a drug test based on her use of medical marijuana could sue her former employer for handicap discrimination under Massachusetts state law. The court reasoned that making an exception to an employer’s drug policy is a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability if the medical marijuana has been prescribed by a physician and is more effective than any alternative medication.

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Get ready to switch to another revised I-9

July 14, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On July 17, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will release a new revision of Form I-9—Revision 07/17/17 N—to be used for employment eligibility verification. The new form is available on the USCIS’s website.

Employers will need to use the new version of the form beginning September 18.

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Senate issues revised version of ACA repeal-and-replace bill

July 13, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On July 13, the Senate released a revised version of its proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal-and-replace bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. The Senate has yet to vote on the original version.

The revised version of the bill includes a “consumer freedom” amendment to the ACA that would allow consumers to purchase lower-premium catastrophic plans with stripped-down coverage. The current law requires all plans to provide certain minimum essential health benefits. Detractors of the ACA believe the requirements drive up the cost of health care and force healthy people to enroll in plans that provide more coverage than they want.

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Texas Supreme Court balks at extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples

by Jacob Monty
Monty & Ramirez, LLP

The Texas Supreme Court ruled this week that the City of Houston’s extension of its employee benefits to married same-sex couples goes further than is required by the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared same-sex marriage equal in all 50 states. The plaintiffs in Friday’s decision argued that Obergefell didn’t impose on taxpayers the obligation to “subsidize” same-sex marriage. The city argued that the Supreme Court ruling requires it to treat employees in same-sex marriage equally.

In what same-sex marriage opponents are calling a victory, the Texas Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court for arguments to be made in light of Obergefell, which was announced only after the parties had briefed the case in the lower court. The court stated: read more…

DOL drops defense of overtime rules

June 30, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

by Susan Prince, JD, MSL

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), headed by new Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, has decided not to defend the overtime rules finalized under the Obama administration. Instead, the DOL will seek to begin a new rulemaking process, likely with a lower salary threshold for overtime exemptions.

Background

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West Virginia’s ‘second chance’ law takes effect July 7

by John R. Merinar, Jr.

The West Virginia Second Chance for Employment Act, which is aimed at encouraging employers to open the doors of opportunity to certain nonviolent criminal offenders, will become law on July 7.

The new law will allow individuals with certain criminal convictions the opportunity to petition the courts to change their records to show a reduction of their offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. The legislation also includes certain protections for employers that hire applicants with criminal convictions.

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Emanuel nomination called chance to ‘rein in’ Obama-era NLRB

June 29, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump’s latest pick for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is another signal that a “reining in” of the panel is on the way, according to attorneys who keep a close watch on the Board.NLRB logo

On June 27, the White House announced that William J. Emanuel, an attorney with the large management-side law firm Littler Mendelson, will be nominated for the remainder of a term expiring on August 27, 2021.

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CBO: Senate GOP health bill cuts deficit, adds to uninsured

June 27, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.

The CBO and the JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would reduce the cumulative federal deficit by $321 billion from 2017 to 2026. That amount is $202 billion more than the estimated net savings from the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was passed by the House in May. The additional savings largely come from steeper reductions to Medicaid than those proposed by the House bill as well as changes to the current subsidies for nongroup health insurance provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Supreme Court ruling allows ‘travel ban’ Executive Order to take limited effect

June 26, 2017 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

On June 26, the last day of the current term, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to determine whether the “travel ban” Executive Order’s (EO) focus on primarily Muslim countries violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and whether the EO exceeds President Donald Trump’s authority granted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Court will hear the case in its next term, which begins in October. Because of two lower courts’ findings, the EO has been enjoined from taking effect since May.

Meanwhile, the Court also addressed and limited the existing injunctions on the EO. In particular, the EO’s provisions barring entry of people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen may take effect, but only for people “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

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Kaplan nomination called way to ‘stop the bleeding’ at NLRB

June 22, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

NLRB logoPresident Donald Trump’s announcement that he will nominate Marvin Kaplan, currently chief counsel of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, to one of two vacant seats on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is being hailed by probusiness interests as a way to bring balance to the Board.

Kevin C. McCormick, an editor of Maryland Employment Law Letter and attorney with Whiteford, Taylor & Preston L.L.P. in Baltimore, called the nomination “a smart move” by the Trump administration because Kaplan has the “pedigree” needed for confirmation to and service on the Board.

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