Texas judge puts FMLA rule’s new definition of spouse on hold

March 27, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

For the time being, employers in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage don’t have to comply with a new rule changing the definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The rule was to take effect on March 27, but a federal district judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction on March 26 in response to a challenge from the attorneys general in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska.

District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the states making the challenge showed a likelihood that they would prevail and that they would be irreparably harmed if the rule were allowed to take effect. If the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) rule is allowed to take effect, it will require employers covered by the FMLA to allow eligible employees to take leave under the Act to care for same-sex spouses.

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Supreme Court clarifies employer obligations related to pregnant workers

March 25, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 2 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Young v. United Parcel Service means employers need to think twice before treating pregnant employees under job restrictions differently than they treat nonpregnant employees who are similarly unable to perform their jobs temporarily.

In a 6-3 ruling handed down March 25, the Court reached for middle ground between interpretations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) offered by both parties as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). By sending the case back to the lower court, the justices revived the employee’s claim that her treatment violated the PDA.

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Utah passes historic legislation against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination

by Ryan B. Frazier

On March 12, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law newly enacted legislation aimed at preventing employment and housing discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals. The monumental legislation amends the state’s antidiscrimination law to prohibit employers statewide from making employment decisions based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the law, a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be the basis for refusing to hire, refusing to promote, demoting, or terminating him or her. Utah law already banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, pregnancy, national origin, and disability.

The new law also provides safeguards for religious freedoms. The law exempts religious leaders and organizations such as churches and religious schools and their affiliates from the application of the new provisions. It also exempts the Boy Scouts of America or any of its subsidiaries or councils.

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High court lets Hobby Lobby, others opt out of contraception coverage under ACA

June 30, 2014 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 3 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) again this term, and today, it held in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that the ACA’s contraceptive mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) as it is applied to “closely held corporations.” According to the Court’s 5-4 opinion, the mandate “substantially burdens the exercise of religion.”

Under the ACA (and related Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations), many health insurance plans must cover certain preventive services for women without cost sharing (e.g., coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles). These preventive services include contraceptive methods and counseling—or more specifically, “all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”

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Obama’s three NLRB recess appointments were invalid, Supreme Court rules

June 26, 2014 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

On June 26, 2014, the U.S Supreme Court unanimously upheld the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Noel Canning v. NLRB, concluding that President Barack Obama’s three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—Sharon Block, Richard Griffin, and Terence Flynn—were not valid.  Accordingly, since three out of the five members were invalidly appointed, the NLRB lacked a quorum.  That means Board decisions, including union-friendly rulings on social media, confidentiality rules, and off-duty employee access to the workplace, are now affected and likely invalid

In January 2012, President Obama filled three vacancies on the NLRB while the Senate was on its 20-day holiday break. Republicans objected to the president’s appointments, claiming the Senate wasn’t in recess because it was holding pro forma sessions every few days.

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Utah case puts same-sex marriage issue on track to go before Supreme Court

June 26, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Utah’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage suffered another blow in a June 25 ruling from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and that ruling makes it likely that the issue of same-sex marriage will go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 10th Circuit’s decision upheld a December 2013 federal district court ruling that struck down Utah’s ban. The lower court’s ruling was on hold during the state’s appeal to the 10th Circuit.

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Indiana adds veteran protection to Civil Rights Act

by Matthew A. Brown

An amendment to the Indiana Civil Rights Act (ICRA) going into effect July 1 means employers should assess their policies and practices to ensure they don’t discriminate on the basis of an applicant’s or employee’s status as a veteran.

Indiana House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1242 adds veteran status to the protected categories already covered in the ICRA—race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, and ancestry. A veteran under the ICRA includes not only someone who served in the U.S. armed forces but also a member of the Indiana National Guard or a reserves component of the armed forces.

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Supreme Court favors employer in donning, doffing case

January 29, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the employer in a closely watched donning and doffing case.

The high court ruled on January 27 that U.S. Steel Corp. did not have to pay a group of employees for time spent changing into and out of certain protective gear. In Sandifer v. U.S. Steel Corp., workers sued to be paid for time spent donning and doffing the gear even though the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) says that time spent “changing clothes” at the beginning or end of each workday can be excluded from compensable time unless otherwise negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement.

The workers filing the lawsuit claimed the gear was personal protective equipment rather than clothing. But the Supreme Court ruled that the gear in question could largely be considered clothing, and therefore, they didn’t have to be paid for time spent putting it on and taking it off.

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Indiana AG appeals Lake County judge’s ruling that right-to-work law is unconstitutional

On September 5, Indiana’s right-to-work law was declared unconstitutional by a state trial court judge.  On Thursday, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a notice of appeal in the case.

Lake County Superior Court Judge John M. Sedia ruled that the right-to-work law violated the Indiana Constitution by requiring unions to provide services without payment. The law prohibits requiring employees to pay dues to a union.  Under federal law, however, unions must represent all workers in a bargaining unit, including nonunion members.  Sedia reasoned that the right-to-work law violated the Indiana Constitution’s provision guaranteeing just compensation for services rendered. Sweeney v. Zoeller, No. 45D01-1305-PK-52 (Superior Court, Sept. 5, 2013).

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Changes to Rhode Island and federal law affect how employers treat same-sex married couples

by Matthew H. Parker

A series of amendments to Rhode Island law and the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 decision in United States v. Windsor have changed how most Rhode Island employers must treat same-sex married couples.

Under the amendments, which go into effect on August 1, anyone who is eligible to marry in Rhode Island will be able to marry any other eligible person “regardless of gender.” Also, Rhode Island will recognize valid same-sex marriages from other states.

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