Mississippi passes broad anti-LGBT law

April 01, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

On April 5, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill that provides businesses, religious organizations, and individuals with legal protection for refusing to provide services to LGBT individuals.

The new law provides “certain protections regarding a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction for persons, religious organizations and private associations” that refuse services to LGBT individuals. Those beliefs or convictions include tenets that say: read more…

North Carolina General Assembly does more than just invalidate Charlotte’s LGBT ordinance

by Richard L. Rainey

On Wednesday night, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill (HB) 2, which was then signed by Governor Pat McCrory. While HB 2 was prompted by the desire to overturn Charlotte’s recently enacted ordinance that banned discrimination against LGBT people in the provision of public accommodations and allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their choice, its actual scope is much wider than that. The newly enacted law has the following provisions:

  • The law prevents local governments from imposing any requirement on employers pertaining to the compensation of employees, such as minimum wages, hours of labor, benefits, or leave. This means cities and counties can’t enact “living wage” ordinances or require paid leave, as has been done in other parts of the country.
  • The law prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances that prohibit employment discrimination. Thus, local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or any other factor are not allowed.
  • The law amends the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act (NCEEPA) by clarifying that discrimination against a person’s “biological sex” (not just “sex”) is not permitted. Biological sex is defined as the sex that is stated on the person’s birth certificate.
  • The law further states that the NCEEPA, while a statement of public policy, does not create any statutory or common-law private cause of action, and no person may bring any civil action based on it. This provision means that common-law claims for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, which have become quite common in the area of employment law litigation, can’t be based on the NCEEPA. Of course, pursuing federal discrimination claims is still an available avenue.
  • The law prevents local governments from imposing antidiscrimination ordinances with respect to businesses that are places of public accommodation. This is the provision directly targeted at the Charlotte ordinance.
  • The law provides requirements for school districts and government agencies on the use of restrooms. Essentially, an individual must use the bathroom designated for his or her biological sex.

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DOL’s new “persuader rule” limits employers’ ability to fight union organizing

March 23, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

A new rule scheduled to take effect April 25 is seen as placing new limits on employer efforts to fight union organizing drives. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that it will publish its new “persuader rule” in the March 24 Federal Register.

The DOL maintains that the new rule, which requires more disclosure of antiunion efforts, is necessary to ensure transparency during organizing campaigns, but employers worry that it will make it more difficult to communicate to workers their reasons for opposing unionization.

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Supreme Court ruling eases the way for certain class actions

March 22, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled March 22 that the use of statistical evidence to create a class action lawsuit against Tyson Foods was proper, an action that may make it easier for employees in certain situations to band together to sue their employers rather than suing as individuals.

The Court ruled 6-2 in Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo that the lower court was correct in allowing employees to use a study performed by an industrial relations expert to establish a class of workers at a Tyson pork processing plant in Storm Lake, Iowa.

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New FLSA overtime rule a step closer to reality

March 16, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rule greatly expanding the number of workers eligible for overtime pay has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, a necessary step before the rule can be finalized.

The new rule is expected to make nearly five million workers lose their exempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), according to the DOL, meaning they would be eligible for overtime pay at no less than 1½ times their normal rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

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Supreme Court’s ERISA ruling a victory for self-insured employers

March 03, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s March 1 ruling in a Vermont case relieves self-insured employers from the obligation to report claims data to state governments that have established databases reflecting healthcare use and costs for citizens.

The reach of the ruling extends beyond Vermont to all self-insured plans. “It absolutely has national implications,” Linda J. Cohen, an attorney with Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C. in Burlington, Vermont, said after the ruling was released.

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Proposed rule spells out paid sick leave requirements for federal contractors

February 25, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released its proposed regulations implementing President Barack Obama’s Executive Order requiring paid sick leave for employees of federal contractors.

Executive Order 13706, signed on September 7, 2015, will apply to new contracts and replacements for expiring contracts that result from solicitations issued on or after January 1, 2017, or that are awarded outside the solicitation process on or after January 1, 2017.

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Alabama Legislature puts a stop to Birmingham’s higher minimum wage

by Albert L. Vreeland

************************ UPDATE 2/26/16 ************************

As expected, on Thursday, February 25, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill preempting any local legislation (city or county) imposing a higher minimum wage or mandating a minimum level of employee benefits.  The bill was signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley shortly thereafter, rendering the Birmingham minimum wage hike a dead letter.  Now, any changes to the minimum wage for Alabama employers will have to come from Washington or Montgomery—which seems very unlikely in the current political climate.

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Vermont passes paid sick leave law

February 19, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The Vermont Legislature has passed a bill that soon will require employers to provide employees with paid sick leave.  I am on Sick Leaves Message

The bill, which passed the Vermont Senate on February 10 and the House on February 17, is expected to gain Governor Peter Shumlin’s signature. Presuming the governor signs the bill, the law will go into effect on January 1, 2017, for most employers but not until January 1, 2018, for employers with five or fewer employees who are employed for an average of not less than 30 hours per week, according to N. Joseph Wonderly, an attorney with Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C., in Burlington, Vermont.

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West Virginia Legislature passes right-to-work bill; governor promises veto

by Rodney L. Bean

Both houses of West Virginia’s legislature have passed a bill that would make West Virginia the nation’s 26th right-to-work state. The bill arrived at Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s desk on Monday, February 8, and now awaits his signature or veto.  Flag of West Virginia, USA.

After a February 4 debate that lasted almost five hours, the House of Delegates voted 54-46 in favor of the bill, which bears the title “West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act.” The Senate had passed the measure by a 17-16 vote on January 21. Leaders of the Republican legislative majority have identified the bill as a priority for this session and introduced it on the opening day of the term.

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