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 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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Time running out to comment on long-stalled overtime rule

September 14, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

HR News Overtime Rule NearsEmployers and others have until September 25 to submit comments to shape the rule governing which workers are eligible for overtime pay. Once the deadline passes, employers will face a waiting game before learning what changes may be in store.

In late July, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced it was soliciting comments through a Request for Information (RFI) dealing with the long-stalled and much-debated rule aimed at raising the salary threshold in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) so that more workers will be eligible for overtime pay.

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Suit filed over Trump’s phaseout of DACA: what employers should know

September 06, 2017 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

On September 5, President Donald Trump announced that the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be phased out over the next six months.

In response, 11 states and the District of Columbia have filed suit, alleging that the repeal of DACA violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

As observers await the next steps, the DACA controversy is rapidly becoming reminiscent of the travel ban efforts from earlier this year.

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New bill latest effort to tackle definition of joint employment

July 28, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

NLRB logoThe definition of “joint employment” may be heading for another turnaround. Legislation introduced in Congress on July 27 takes aim at a 2015 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that raised the ire of many in the business community, especially employers that work with franchisees, contractors, and staffing agencies.

The NLRB’s 2015 Browning-Ferris decision broadened the joint-employment standard so that a business that exercises only indirect control over another employer’s workers still can be considered a joint employer for purposes of collective bargaining. The new bill introduced in the House—dubbed the Save Local Business Act—seeks to clarify the joint-employment standard and provide relief to businesses that are in a relationship with another employer.

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DOJ says Title VII doesn’t apply to sexual orientation discrimination

July 27, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Sexual orientation flag snipThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in a case in which an employee claims his employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against him based on his sexual orientation.

The DOJ’s brief asserts that Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination does not extend to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The DOJ’s position is in stark contrast to the position taken by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which says discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII.

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DOL seeking feedback on long-debated overtime rule

July 25, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Overtime snipEmployers will get the opportunity to offer feedback on changes to the regulation governing which workers are eligible for overtime pay after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) publishes a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register on July 26.

On July 25, the DOL announced it would publish the RFI and released a preliminary copy. The RFI is the latest action on a rule issued in May 2016 during the Obama administration. Implementation of the rule would have added approximately 4.2 million employees to the ranks of workers eligible for overtime pay of at least 1½ times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

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