NLRB says employees may use company computers for organizing activity

December 12, 2014 - by: HR Hero 2 COMMENTS

In perhaps one of its boldest moves, on December 11, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturned existing precedent and held that employees have the right to use their employer’s e-mail system for Section 7 concerted activity, including union-organizing activities, during nonbusiness hours. The decision obviously affects employers’ policies on employee e-mail use.

As background, the NLRB previously held in Register Guard, 351 NLRB 1110 (2007), that employers could bar employee use of their e-mail systems for nonbusiness purposes, including union or other communications protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), so long as the employer does so on a nondiscriminatory basis. In other words, the employer did not have to let employees use its e-mail system when it came to union business, including organizing campaigns.

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Part of once-delayed ACA employer mandate takes effect January 1

by Douglas R. Chamberlain

Employers got a reprieve in 2014 on a key mandate incorporated in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but the new effective date for many employers is now set for January 1, 2015.

The ACA generally provides that all employers with 50 or more employees who work 30 or more hours per week must offer their employees health insurance coverage. This “employer mandate” was originally slated to take effect January 1, 2014, but during 2013, the Obama administration delayed the effective date to 2015.

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New circuit ruling complicates same-sex marriage issue

November 07, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The issue of how employers should handle same-sex marriage got a bit murkier November 6 as a divided appeals court panel broke with rulings from four other U.S. circuit courts of appeals by upholding state bans on same-sex marriage.

A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the 2-1 decision, which allows bans on same-sex marriage in four states to stand. The court’s decision—affecting Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee—differs from other jurisdictions that have recently struck down similar state bans.

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Oregon employers shouldn’t freak out over new marijuana law

by Calvin L. Keith

On November 4, Oregon voters passed Initiative 91, which legalizes recreational marijuana in Oregon. With Oregon joining other states that have approved recreational marijuana use, Oregon employers may be wondering what the new law means for their drug policies. The short answer is not much.

Initiative 91, which will take effect on July 1, 2015, allows the purchase, distribution, and use of marijuana for recreational purposes in Oregon. Those acts remain illegal under federal law. Federal contractors and employers that receive federal funding still must prohibit the consumption of marijuana on their premises. Employers with employees who are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) must follow regulations on drug testing and drug use.

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Employers should review policies on same-sex couples in wake of Supreme Court decision

October 07, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

With the U.S. Supreme Court deciding not to take up a case to settle the same-sex marriage issue on the national level, employers need to understand how the Court’s decision affects their policies.

As it opened its new term on October 6, the Supreme Court declined to review one of seven cases from five states up for consideration. The Court’s decision means that rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuits will stand. The rulings struck down state prohibitions on same-sex marriage.

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Executive Order creates new compliance requirements for federal contractors

August 01, 2014 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

On July 31, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order “to promote economy and efficiency in procurement by contracting with responsible sources who comply with labor laws.” The order will apply to new government contracts worth more than $500,000, and according to a White House fact sheet, it will be “implemented on new contracts in stages, on a prioritized basis, beginning in 2016.”

The Executive Order requires contractors to report if they have violated any of 14 labor laws in the past three years. Employers also must provide updates regarding violations every six months and possibly face remedial action.

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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 1 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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