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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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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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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NLRB invites briefs on case concerning use of employer’s e-mail system

May 05, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is inviting interested parties to file briefs in a case that could overrule a decision that allows employers to restrict employees’ use of their electronic communication systems.

On April 30, the NLRB issued its decision in Purple Communications, Inc. That decision notes that on October 24, 2013, an administrative law judge (ALJ) dismissed an allegation that Purple Communications violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by prohibiting the use of its electronic equipment and e-mail system for activity that was not related to business purposes.

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Agency proposes clearinghouse for commercial driver drug tests

by Charles S. Plumb

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed a new rule that would create a database of commercial drivers’ drug test histories, making it easier for employers to find a job candidate’s past drug test results. The comment period is open until April 21.

Under the current rules, employers that hire commercial drivers may not know whether an applicant has a history of positive drug or alcohol tests because employers can rely only on information about earlier test results that individuals applying for driving jobs supply.

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Northwestern’s appeal of football ruling claims NLRB ignored evidence

April 10, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Northwestern University’s appeal of a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling claims an NLRB regional director ignored evidence that the school’s scholarship football players are students—not employees—and relied too much on the testimony of a single player.

On April 9, the private university located in Evanston, Illinois, asked the full NLRB to review and overturn the March 26 ruling by NLRB regional director Peter Sung Ohr. That ruling said the university’s scholarship football players are employees and are therefore eligible to vote on union representation. The NLRB has set a union election for April 25. The Board may postpone the election in light of the appeal, but it doesn’t have to.

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U.S. Supreme Court expands SOX whistleblower protection

March 05, 2014 - by: Holly Jones 1 COMMENTS

In the early 2000s, corporate and accounting scandals involving Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, and other publicly traded companies cost investors billions of dollars and prompted federal legislation to reform corporate financial practices. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) covers everything from mandatory financial disclosures to enhanced penalties for white-collar crime to requiring a company’s CEO to sign corporate tax returns. The law also includes penalties for retaliating against whistleblowers who provide information or assist in federal investigations.

Generally, SOX applies only to publicly traded companies. However, in a surprisingly entertaining opinion (at least when corporate governance and ethics are concerned), the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the law’s antiretaliation provisions to some private employers—specifically, to contractors and subcontractors performing work for publicly traded companies.

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New resources available on upcoming rules for federal contractors

February 24, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has posted new resources on its website to help federal contractors comply with new regulations pertaining to recruiting people with disabilities and veterans.

New regulations going into effect March 24 strengthen requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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