In ‘landmark’ ruling, appeals court says sexual orientation discrimination is illegal

April 06, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, a federal appeals court ruled for the first time on April 4.

With its “landmark” ruling, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upended three decades of precedent and set up the issue for review by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Steven L. Brenneman, a partner with Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, and an editor of Illinois Employment Law Letter.

The decision applies only in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, but Brent E. Siler, an attorney at Butler Snow in Memphis and a contributor to Tennessee Employment Law Letter, said its effect reaches far beyond those three states. The ruling, combined with the federal government’s position on the issue, means employers must ensure they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation, Siler added.

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Trump puts final nail in the coffin: Blacklisting rule ‘gone forever’

March 28, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump has signed a resolution voiding an Obama-era regulation that would have required federal contractors to disclose employment law violations to agencies that award contracts. His signature was the final step in the repeal process. “It was the stake through the heart of the blacklisting regs,” according to H. Juanita Beecher, of counsel with Fortney & Scott and an editor of Federal Employment Law Insider.

The move is a welcome one for federal contractors, which expected the so-called blacklisting rule to be incredibly burdensome, Beecher said. The rule was issued to implement President Barack Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which directed agencies to consider employment law disclosures when awarding contracts.

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‘Breathtakingly radical’: Acosta questions legality of any overtime threshold

March 23, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor has questioned whether the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has the authority to set any salary threshold for overtime pay—not just the pending increase that would raise the threshold to $47,476.

Alexander Acosta volunteered that concern twice during his March 22 confirmation hearing, despite no questions from lawmakers to that effect. A former DOL economist who worked under President Barack Obama called Acosta’s statements “breathtakingly radical,” noting that an overtime threshold has been in place since 1938.

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Trump proposes ‘substantial’ DOL budget cut

March 17, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) would see a nearly 21 percent reduction in funding under the White House’s proposed 2018 discretionary spending budget, which was released March 16.

“A 21 percent cut is very substantial,” according to H. Juanita Beecher, of counsel with Fortney & Scott in Washington, D.C., and an editor of Federal Employment Law Insider. It’s unclear, however, which DOL subagencies will be affected, she said.

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CBO: Fewer employers would offer insurance under Obamacare replacement

March 14, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On March 13, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its cost estimate of the effects of the proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replace legislation.

Deficits down, but number of uninsured up

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Federal contractors hail Congress’s decision to kill ‘blacklisting’ rule

March 08, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

On March 6, Congress voted to repeal a regulation requiring federal contractors to report employment law violations to agencies that award contracts. President Donald Trump is expected to approve the resolution.

The move was expected but is still a great relief to all federal contractors, according to Burton J. Fishman, senior counsel with Fortney & Scott and a contributor to Federal Employment Law Insider. Even the most compliant contractors had negative reactions to the rule. “They were all opposed to this[,] and that tells you something,” Fishman said. “This was really exceedingly burdensome with very little upside and had the trappings of political—not practical—purpose involved.”

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ACA repeal proposal: Employer mandate gone, Cadillac tax remains

March 07, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On March 6, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) released long-awaited proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through a budget process known as reconciliation—a process that allows legislation to be passed with a simple majority in the Senate. The legislation is part of House Republicans’ American Health Care Act.

Employer and individual mandates gone . . . retroactively

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Employers face uncertainty over ‘less disruptive’ new travel ban, H-1B delay

March 07, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

The Trump administration recently implemented two major changes to its immigration policies, and the full effect for employers remains to be seen. Between a replacement Executive Order (EO) on immigration and the suspension of the fast-track process for H-1B (highly skilled) worker visas, employers and foreign employees may soon face new hurdles, albeit fewer than under the original immigration EO.

President Donald Trump signed the new EO on immigration March 6, rolling back parts of his original order. The first EO, issued January 27, barred travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, arguably including permanent U.S. residents, for 90 days. It also placed a 120-day hold on the U.S. refugee program, prevented even individuals who already had received refugee status from entering the country, and adopted a new religious test for refugees that had the effect of prioritizing non-Muslims.

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Supreme Court’s action on transgender rights keeps employers watching

March 07, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement that it has decided not to hear arguments in a case regarding restroom access for transgender students doesn’t directly affect employment, but it puts employers on notice to keep up with developments that could affect the workplace.

On March 6, the Court announced that it is sending back to a lower court the case of a transgender boy suing a Virginia school district in an effort to be allowed to use the boys’ restroom. The Court had been scheduled to hear arguments in the case later this month. But on February 22, the Trump administration revoked guidelines released by the Obama administration advising public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

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Employers advised to stay up to date on legal trends affecting transgender rights

February 23, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The Trump administration’s action rescinding guidance to public schools on restroom policies for transgender students sends a different signal than guidance from federal agencies dealing with employment, but the real message for employers is to stay tuned.

On February 22, the Trump administration revoked Obama administration guidelines that advised public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity instead of their gender assigned at birth. The Trump administration’s new guidance now puts the question of restroom access on states and school districts.

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