Bill takes aim at forced arbitration of sexual harassment complaints

December 08, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Arbitration, long a favored method of handling workplace disputes, would be removed as an option in sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases if a new bill introduced in Congress becomes law.

Often, employment contracts contain arbitration clauses that require disputes to be settled through arbitration instead of litigation. Also, complaint settlements frequently include nondisclosure agreements that keep claims out of the public eye. The new bill, called the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act, is intended to keep harassers from settling claims in secret and then continuing to harass.

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Deadline for OSHA’s electronic record-keeping rule nears

November 22, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Certain employers are facing a December 15 deadline to submit injury and illness data to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The E-Recordkeeping and Anti-Retaliation Rule requires employers with large establishments (250 or more employees) and small establishments (20 to 249 employees) in certain “high hazard industries” to submit injury and illness data to OSHA through an electronic portal. An OSHA fact sheet published in June 2016 explains the new reporting requirement: read more…

New General Counsel expected to set new probusiness agenda for NLRB

November 09, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A much more business-friendly atmosphere is expected at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) now that the U.S. Senate has confirmed Peter B. Robb as the Board’s General Counsel.

Robb, a management-side attorney with a Vermont law firm, won confirmation on a 49-46 party-line vote on November 8. He is President Donald Trump’s choice to replace Richard F. Griffin Jr., whose term as General Counsel expired on October 31. Griffin, nominated by President Barack Obama, began his tenure on November 4, 2013. Before Griffin, another Democratic nominee, Lafe Solomon, held the post.

With Robb on board as General Counsel, the five-member NLRB not only has a Republican majority of members, but it also has a Republican “quarterback,” says Kevin C. McCormick, chair of the labor and employment section of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, L.L.P., in Baltimore, Maryland, and editor of Maryland Employment Law Letter. As General Counsel, Robb will set the tone for the NLRB since the General Counsel is responsible for selecting cases the Board will hear.

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Trump administration discontinues ACA’s CSR payments

October 16, 2017 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

On October 12, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Acting Secretary Eric Hargan and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma released a statement announcing that cost-sharing reductions (CSR) payments were to be immediately discontinued based on a legal opinion from the attorney general.

In part, the statement noted that “we believe that the last Administration overstepped the legal boundaries drawn by our Constitution. Congress has not appropriated money for CSRs, and we will discontinue these payments immediately.”

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New Executive Order seeks to expand health insurance options

October 12, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

After several failed legislative attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Donald Trump is now taking matters into his own hands.

On October 12, Trump signed a new Executive Order (EO) designed to “expand choices and alternatives to Obamacare plans and increase competition to bring down costs for consumers,” according to a White House press release.

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New guidance shifts federal policy on religious liberty in employment

October 10, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

New guidance from Attorney General Jeff Sessions on religious liberty in employment “signals a shift in federal employment law and policy,” according to an attorney who focuses on employment law.

Sessions issued the new guidance to all administrative agencies and executive departments on October 6. It identifies 20 principles that administrative agencies and executive departments are to use “to ensure the religious freedoms of Americans are lawfully protected,” according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

J. Steven Massoni, a contributor to Kansas Employment Law Letter and attorney with Foulston Siefkin LLP in Wichita, Kansas, says the new guidance, which purports to expand the religious exemption in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, represents a change at the federal level. However, he says “it remains to be seen” what effect the DOJ’s guidance may have on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) position in cases involving religious liberty in employment. The EEOC interprets and enforces Title VII, which, among other things, prohibits discrimination based on religion.

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Trump administration expands exemptions to ACA contraceptive mandate

October 09, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On October 6, the Trump administration released two interim final rules that will vastly expand the availability of exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) rules requiring employer coverage of contraceptives.

The ACA requires employers and insurers that offer group health plans to employees to cover certain approved contraceptive methods—at no additional cost to employees—or face stiff penalties. Previously, there were exemptions for grandfathered health plans (i.e., plans in existence at the time of the ACA’s adoption) as well as for group health plans sponsored by religious employers. “Religious employers” were narrowly defined to include churches and related entities as well as religious orders.

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Sessions memo changes DOJ position on transgender discrimination

October 06, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Transgender snipby Tammy Binford

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement changing his department’s position on transgender employment discrimination marks a change in the legal landscape, but it doesn’t alter employer obligations under various state and local laws or the position taken by other federal agencies.

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More probusiness NLRB on the way as Emanuel wins confirmation

September 25, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

As William Emanuel takes a seat on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), employers will see the panel going in a more probusiness and less union-friendly direction, Board watchers say, but it will take a while before cases come up to roll back recent decisions.

Emanuel, an attorney representing management in labor and employment matters, won confirmation by the Senate on September 25, giving the panel its first Republican majority in 10 years. Emanuel most recently practiced in the Los Angeles office of large management-side law firm Littler Mendelson.

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Employers advised to stay tuned as another healthcare bill heats up

September 19, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

ACA snipAs yet another attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA) heats up in Washington, employers wondering how a new law might affect their benefit plans are advised to stay tuned. And with lawmakers facing a short timetable, at least some answers should be coming soon.

Lawmakers wanting to repeal and replace the ACA­—also known as Obamacare—are under pressure to pass a bill by September 30. If a bill is passed by that deadline, Senate Republicans would need just 50 votes, along with a sure tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, to pass the measure under budget reconciliation rules. If a bill isn’t passed by September 30—when the reconciliation rules expire—60 votes will be needed to thwart a Democratic filibuster.

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