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…

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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UAW trying different approach to unionize Volkswagen plant

July 11, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Despite two failed attempts to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the United Auto Workers (UAW) on July 10 announced the creation of Local 42, a local that Chattanooga VW workers can join voluntarily.

“We’ve had ongoing discussions with Volkswagen and have arrived at a consensus with the company,” Gary Casteel, the UAW’s secretary-treasurer, said in a statement about the union’s latest move. “Upon Local 42 signing up a meaningful portion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga workforce, we’re confident the company will recognize Local 42 by dealing with it as a members’ union that represents those employees who join the local. As part of this consensus, the UAW is committed to continuing its joint efforts with Volkswagen to ensure the company’s expansion and growth in Chattanooga.”

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Comment period on $10.10 minimum wage rules ends July 28

July 09, 2014 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

by Rachael E. Luzietti

The comment period for the proposed rule to implement President Barack Obama’s Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for employees working on government contracts ends July 28. Those interested in having their voices heard should submit comments at www.regulations.gov.

In February, Obama issued Executive Order 13658, which mandates a minimum hourly wage of $10.10 to be paid by employers contracting with the federal government. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on June 17 to implement the order.

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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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Obama’s three NLRB recess appointments were invalid, Supreme Court rules

June 26, 2014 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

On June 26, 2014, the U.S Supreme Court unanimously upheld the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Noel Canning v. NLRB, concluding that President Barack Obama’s three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—Sharon Block, Richard Griffin, and Terence Flynn—were not valid.  Accordingly, since three out of the five members were invalidly appointed, the NLRB lacked a quorum.  That means Board decisions, including union-friendly rulings on social media, confidentiality rules, and off-duty employee access to the workplace, are now affected and likely invalid

In January 2012, President Obama filled three vacancies on the NLRB while the Senate was on its 20-day holiday break. Republicans objected to the president’s appointments, claiming the Senate wasn’t in recess because it was holding pro forma sessions every few days.

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Flexible work, job protection, paid leave at heart of White House summit

June 23, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

President Barack Obama is launching a new effort aimed at increasing protections, opportunities, and wages for workers to create what the White House envisions as a 21st century workplace.

The president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden are hosting the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23. The agenda calls for sessions focusing on hourly workers, compensation, the structure of the workplace, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers, and nontraditional jobs, among other topics.

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Houston Equal Rights Ordinance to take effect

by Michael P. Maslanka

Houston employers need to be ready for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which will take effect June 27. The new law adds to the protected classes already covered under federal and state law. Here’s a look at the major aspects of the law.

Covered employers. During the first year, companies with 50 or more employees will be covered. On the first anniversary of the ordinance’s effective date, that number drops to 25. On the second anniversary, it drops to 15.

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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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DOL issues proposed rule on $10.10 minimum wage for federal contractors

June 13, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announced a proposed rule on June 12 that will raise the minimum wage for workers on federal service and construction contracts to $10.10 per hour. The proposed rule implements the executive order President Barack Obama announced on February 12.

The proposed rule provides guidance and sets standards for employers concerning coverage, including coverage of tipped employees and workers with disabilities. It also establishes an enforcement process, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL’s proposed rule includes an economic analysis showing that nearly 200,000 workers will see the increase.

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