‘Breathtakingly radical’: Acosta questions legality of any overtime threshold

March 23, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor has questioned whether the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has the authority to set any salary threshold for overtime pay—not just the pending increase that would raise the threshold to $47,476.

Alexander Acosta volunteered that concern twice during his March 22 confirmation hearing, despite no questions from lawmakers to that effect. A former DOL economist who worked under President Barack Obama called Acosta’s statements “breathtakingly radical,” noting that an overtime threshold has been in place since 1938.

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$15 minimum wage clears Baltimore City Council

by Kevin C. McCormick

On March 20, the Baltimore City Council voted 11-3 to approve a bill that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. If ultimately enacted, the minimum wage would be the highest in Maryland.

Under the proposed legislation, the minimum wage for employees working in the city would rise to $15 an hour by 2022. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees would have until 2026 to reach that threshold. There are exceptions for employees younger than 21 and workers who participate in training programs through the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Employment Development.

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Trump proposes ‘substantial’ DOL budget cut

March 17, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) would see a nearly 21 percent reduction in funding under the White House’s proposed 2018 discretionary spending budget, which was released March 16.

“A 21 percent cut is very substantial,” according to H. Juanita Beecher, of counsel with Fortney & Scott in Washington, D.C., and an editor of Federal Employment Law Insider. It’s unclear, however, which DOL subagencies will be affected, she said.

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Arizona Supreme Court upholds minimum wage, paid leave law

by Dinita L. James
Gonzalez Law, LLC

In a three-sentence order entered just before the close of business March 14, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, commonly known as Proposition 206. The unanimous ruling dashed the last remaining hope of business groups trying to block the voter initiative, which raised the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour on January 1 and mandates paid sick leave for most employees beginning July 1, 2017.

More than 58 percent of Arizona voters approved the law on the November 2016 ballot. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry led the legal challenge to the law, arguing it violated the Revenue Source Rule in the Arizona Constitution, which makes any citizen initiative that requires the expenditure of state funds specify from where the funds will come.

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CBO: Fewer employers would offer insurance under Obamacare replacement

March 14, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On March 13, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its cost estimate of the effects of the proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replace legislation.

Deficits down, but number of uninsured up

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New Ohio law allows guns to be locked in vehicles on employer premises

by Jourdan Day

Ohio’s new law prohibiting employers from creating or enforcing policies that prevent employees with a concealed carry license from storing a firearm in their locked vehicle while on employer premises takes effect March 19.

The law means that as long as an employee keeps her firearm and ammunition in a locked compartment of her vehicle while she is away from it, her employer may not take any action against her for bringing the firearm or ammunition onto its property.

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Federal contractors hail Congress’s decision to kill ‘blacklisting’ rule

March 08, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

On March 6, Congress voted to repeal a regulation requiring federal contractors to report employment law violations to agencies that award contracts. President Donald Trump is expected to approve the resolution.

The move was expected but is still a great relief to all federal contractors, according to Burton J. Fishman, senior counsel with Fortney & Scott and a contributor to Federal Employment Law Insider. Even the most compliant contractors had negative reactions to the rule. “They were all opposed to this[,] and that tells you something,” Fishman said. “This was really exceedingly burdensome with very little upside and had the trappings of political—not practical—purpose involved.”

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ACA repeal proposal: Employer mandate gone, Cadillac tax remains

March 07, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On March 6, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) released long-awaited proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through a budget process known as reconciliation—a process that allows legislation to be passed with a simple majority in the Senate. The legislation is part of House Republicans’ American Health Care Act.

Employer and individual mandates gone . . . retroactively

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Employers face uncertainty over ‘less disruptive’ new travel ban, H-1B delay

March 07, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

The Trump administration recently implemented two major changes to its immigration policies, and the full effect for employers remains to be seen. Between a replacement Executive Order (EO) on immigration and the suspension of the fast-track process for H-1B (highly skilled) worker visas, employers and foreign employees may soon face new hurdles, albeit fewer than under the original immigration EO.

President Donald Trump signed the new EO on immigration March 6, rolling back parts of his original order. The first EO, issued January 27, barred travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, arguably including permanent U.S. residents, for 90 days. It also placed a 120-day hold on the U.S. refugee program, prevented even individuals who already had received refugee status from entering the country, and adopted a new religious test for refugees that had the effect of prioritizing non-Muslims.

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Supreme Court’s action on transgender rights keeps employers watching

March 07, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement that it has decided not to hear arguments in a case regarding restroom access for transgender students doesn’t directly affect employment, but it puts employers on notice to keep up with developments that could affect the workplace.

On March 6, the Court announced that it is sending back to a lower court the case of a transgender boy suing a Virginia school district in an effort to be allowed to use the boys’ restroom. The Court had been scheduled to hear arguments in the case later this month. But on February 22, the Trump administration revoked guidelines released by the Obama administration advising public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

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