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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Get ready for Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage

January 20, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the issue of same-sex marriage, employers are weighing the impact a ruling will have.

On January 16, the Court announced that it would consider four cases from each of the states in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals—Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. On November 6, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit issued a decision that allowed state bans on same-sex marriage to stand. That decision was at odds with rulings from other circuit courts of appeal that had struck down similar bans.

After the 6th Circuit’s decision, many predicted that the split in decisions from different circuits would prompt the Supreme Court to take up the issue even though it declined to hear a same-sex marriage case before its term began in October. Now that it has decided to take up the issue after all, it is expected to hear arguments in April and issue a decision by the end of its term in June.

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Obama takes steps toward requiring paid sick leave

January 15, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Is it a sensible plan to boost productivity and give workers the help they deserve, or is it an unaffordable, unfair mandate on already overburdened employers? President Barack Obama’s announcement of a push to pass a paid sick leave law is likely to garner both reactions.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, launched the effort January 14 with a post on the career-centered social network LinkedIn, a venue chosen because of its high profile with employers.

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South Dakota same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

by Jane Pfeifle

On Monday, a federal judge in Sioux Falls ruled that South Dakota’s constitutional and statutory prohibition on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution. Six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit against the governor, the attorney general, the secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health, and other public officials seeking to overturn the ban on gay marriage.

Judge Karen Schreier found that marriage is a fundamental right and that the law violated equal protection and due-process rights without sufficient justification. She postponed enforcement of her decision, however, to allow state officials to appeal to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court that hears appeals from South Dakota.

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Vermont’s layoff warning law to take effect January 15

by Jeff Nolan

The substantive notice requirements of Vermont’s new law requiring warnings before mass layoffs takes effect January 15, meaning the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) isn’t the only law requiring certain employers to notify employees of an impending plant closing or mass layoff.

The Vermont Notice of Potential Layoffs Act (NPLA) was signed into law in May 2014. It imposes layoff notice requirements on a broader range of employers than the WARN Act.

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Legal knots untied: Same-sex marriage soon to be lawful in Florida

by Robert J. Sniffen and Jeff Slanker

Effective January 6, 2015, same-sex marriage will be lawful in Florida. On December 19, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to extend the postponement of a federal district court’s decision that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The district court judge postponed his order until January 5, 2015, and Florida’s attorney general asked the Supreme Court for an extension. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals also declined to extend the postponement, but an appeal is pending with the court. Florida is poised to become the 36th state to legally recognize same-sex marriage when the postponement expires on January 5.

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Nebraska minimum wage increases to $8 per hour on January 1

by Mark M. Schorr

Because of the passage of the Nebraska minimum wage petition initiative in the November general election, the state’s minimum wage will increase to $8 per hour on January 1, 2015. Nebraska employers that employ individuals at or near the minimum wage should take steps to ensure compliance with the new requirement.

Also, to plan ahead for next year, on January 1, 2016, the Nebraska minimum wage will increase to $9 per hour.

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New provisions of New Hampshire’s equal pay law take effect January 1

by Jeanine Poole

Eight sections of New Hampshire’s Protective Legislation (RSA 275:37, 38, 38-a, 40, 41-a, 41-b, 41-c, and 41-d) will be modified effective January 1, 2015. RSA 275:37 will prohibit employers and persons seeking employees from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex by paying employees of one sex less than employees of the other sex for equal work that (1) requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and (2) is performed under similar working conditions.

There are exceptions that permit different wage rates when the different payment is made pursuant to: read more…

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Proposed West Virginia regulations spell change to wage and hour landscape

by Rodney Bean

The West Virginia Division of Labor (DOL) has proposed emergency regulations that, if enforced in their present form, could force West Virginia employers to change by December 31 a number of common wage and hour practices that comply with long-standing federal regulations.

Although the state DOL’s emergency rules purport to adopt vast portions of federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations, they simultaneously impose several new rules that contradict or otherwise differ from those same federal regulations, particularly as they relate to the determination of what constitutes compensable working time.

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New OSHA reporting requirement takes effect January 1

by Judith E. Kramer

A new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requiring employers to notify the agency when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye goes into effect on January 1 for workplaces under OSHA’s jurisdiction. The rule also updates the list of employers that are partially exempt from OSHA’s record-keeping requirements.

The previous regulation required employers to report work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees within eight hours of the event. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations, or loss of an eye wasn’t required under the previous rule.

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