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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Mental health parity regulations take effect January 13

January 02, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The final regulations implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 will become effective January 13.

The Act requires group health plans that offer mental health or substance use disorder benefits to ensure that those benefits are equivalent to the medical and surgical benefits offered by the plans.

The new final regulations apply to group health plans and health insurance issuers for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2014. The final regulations define the law’s basic terms and outline the general parity requirement and classification of benefits.

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Despite Senate passage, ENDA faces another hurdle

November 05, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Although the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on November 7, final passage of the bill, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees and applicants based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,  faces an obstacle in the House.

The Senate voted 64-32 to pass the bill, with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for the measure. The November 7 vote followed a 61-30 vote on November 4 that allowed the bill to go to a vote instead of being stalled by a filibuster.

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New OFCCP final rules to take effect March 24

September 24, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

New rules requiring federal contractors to set benchmarks for hiring veterans and individuals with disabilities are set to take effect March 24, 2014. The new regulations strengthen requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The new regulations were published in the Federal Register on September 24, 2013, and will go into effect in 180 days—March 24, 2014.

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HITECH Act compliance deadline is September 23

September 06, 2013 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

by Elizabeth A. Diller and James P. McElligott Jr.

Employer-sponsored health plans subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must be in compliance with the final rule under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) by September 23.

The rule went into effect on March 26, 2013. Entities covered under HIPAA, including group health plans and their “business associates,” will have one year from the September 23 compliance date to amend existing business associate agreements.

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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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U.S. Supreme Court finds DOMA provision unconstitutional, dismisses Proposition 8 case

June 26, 2013 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

It came as no great surprise that the U.S. Supreme Court withheld its opinion on two landmark decisions on same-sex marriage rights until the last decision day of the 2012-2013 term. This, however, would be the only lack of surprise of the day, as the Court delivered two opinions that significantly change the landscape for employee benefits in the United States.

In United States v. Windsor, commonly referred to as the “DOMA case,” the court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the portion of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defining marriage as a “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” for the determination of federal benefits is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

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