Federal appeals courts issue conflicting decisions on ACA subsidies

July 22, 2014 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

A few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive mandate, federal courts are looking at a different aspect of the law—exchange subsidies. On July 22, there was a flurry of activity on the issue, with two federal appeals courts issuing conflicting rulings.

States had the option to design and operate exchanges (also known as marketplaces) that best met their unique needs while complying with the ACA’s statutory and regulatory standards. All states had to make a choice regarding what kind of exchange they wanted. States could: read more…

Obama order bars contractors from LGBT employment discrimination

July 21, 2014 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On July 21, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Federal Employment Law Insider editor David S. Fortney, Elizabeth B. Bradley, and Emily Bristol, attorneys with Fortney & Scott, LLC in Washington, D.C., issued a statement after Obama signed the order. They explained that the order marks the first time a national standard has been established. They called it “a historical moment for the expansion of civil rights laws to include the LGBT status as a protected category.”

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New guidance on pregnancy discrimination released

July 15, 2014 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

For the first time since 1983, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination. The new guidance incorporates significant developments in the law during the past 30 years, including how the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may apply to employees with pregnancy-related disabilities.

The EEOC issued Enforcement Guidance: Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues on July 14. Besides the guidance, the agency released questions and answers about the guidance and a fact sheet for small businesses.

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New Louisiana law prohibits employers from seeking social media passwords

by Josh Wood and H. Mark Adams

Louisiana’s new Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act (House Bill 340) goes into effect August 1. It precludes employers from requesting or requiring employees and job applicants to disclose any username or password that allows access to their personal online accounts.

The law prohibits employers from discharging or disciplining employees or from refusing to hire applicants who won’t divulge their personal information. The law allows employers to request or require employees to disclose usernames or passwords to gain access to or operate electronic communication devices paid for or supplied in whole or in part by the company or to gain access to or operate any account or service provided by the employer or used for its business purposes.

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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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Massachusetts set for highest minimum wage in U.S.

by Susan G. Fentin

Massachusetts is set to soon have the highest minimum wage in the country. On June 26, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that will raise the state’s minimum wage from $8 per hour to $11 an hour by 2017, the highest statewide minimum wage in the country and a full 50 percent higher than the current federal rate of $7.25 per hour.

The new law puts Massachusetts ahead of Vermont, which enacted a law on June 9 raising its minimum wage to $10.50 by 2018. Before the Massachusetts action, Vermont was poised to have the highest minimum wage in the country. Washington state has the highest current minimum wage—$9.32 per hour.

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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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Flexible work, job protection, paid leave at heart of White House summit

June 23, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

President Barack Obama is launching a new effort aimed at increasing protections, opportunities, and wages for workers to create what the White House envisions as a 21st century workplace.

The president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden are hosting the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23. The agenda calls for sessions focusing on hourly workers, compensation, the structure of the workplace, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers, and nontraditional jobs, among other topics.

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Proposed rule would extend FMLA protection to employees in same-sex marriages

June 20, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

On June 20, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule that would allow employees to take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for a same-sex spouse even if the couple lives in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

The proposed rule is another result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor. The Court struck down the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that interpreted “marriage” and “spouse” to be limited to opposite-sex marriages for the purposes of federal law.

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Obama plans Executive Order against sexual orientation bias by contractors

June 17, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Continuing his use of Executive Orders in what’s being called a “year of action,” President Barack Obama plans to sign an order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to news reports.

On June 16, news reports quoted a White House official as saying that Obama plans to sign the Executive Order, but the official didn’t say when the president will take the action. The order would make it unlawful for employers that have federal contracts to discriminate in employment decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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