Enforcement of DOL home healthcare rule starts November 12

by Judith E. Kramer

November 12 marks the date the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will begin enforcing regulations extending the minimum wage and overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to almost two million home healthcare workers who are employed by third parties and provide either companionship services or live-in care for the elderly, ill, or disabled.

The DOL issued the regulations on October 1, 2013, but a federal district court held them invalid. Then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed, holding on August 21, 2015, that they are a reasonable interpretation of the FLSA.

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Election results halt minimum wage initiatives in two Maine cities

by Connor Beatty

On November 3, voters in Portland and Bangor rejected attempts to raise the minimum wage in those cities.

In Portland, voters rejected a proposal that would have increased the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. The ordinance would have required all businesses and franchises employing 500 or more employees to raise wages to $15 per hour by 2017, with all other businesses following suit by 2019.

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Houston fails to adopt HERO

by Jacob Monty
Monty & Ramirez, LLP

On November 3, Houston voters decided the fate of a controversial equal rights law by voting against the adoption of Proposition 1, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO).

The ordinance attempted to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in city employment, services, and contracts; public accommodations; and private employment and housing. In addition, HERO would have banned discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, genetic information, and pregnancy.

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Cybersecurity bill gives employers plenty to consider

November 02, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Safety concept: blue Padlock on digital backgroundThe U.S. House and Senate have both passed versions of a cybersecurity bill that would enable companies to voluntarily share information on cyberattacks. The likelihood that some form of the measure will soon become law means employers need to consider whether or how they should participate.

The Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act on October 27. A similar bill passed the House earlier this year. Differences between the House and Senate versions will have to be reconciled before going to President Barack Obama for his expected signature.

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Proposed GINA rule clears up issue on wellness programs

November 02, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A new proposed rule from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settles the question of whether employers are justified in seeking medical information on covered spouses participating in wellness programs.

The proposed rule, published in the October 30 Federal Register, would amend regulations implementing Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The proposed rule’s summary states that it addresses how an employer may offer inducements for an employee’s covered spouse to provide information about current or past health status as part of a health risk assessment connected to the employer’s wellness program.

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Colorado’s new use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy sparks questions

The Colorado Division of Labor has taken a new position on enforcing wage claims based on an employer’s vacation policy, and the position is leaving employers with questions about whether use-it-or-lose-it vacation policies are lawful in the state.

In response to inquiries about whether policies that prohibit employees from rolling over some or all earned vacation or paid time off (PTO) from year to year, the division recently posted frequently asked questions (FAQs) on its website. The FAQs state that such policies don’t necessarily run afoul of the Colorado Wage Protection Act (WPA) and that if an employee challenges the validity of an employer’s policy, the determining factor will be when vacation is earned.

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Judge strikes down St. Louis minimum wage increase

October 15, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

St. Louis employers aren’t facing a phased-in $11 minimum wage now that a state judge has struck down a local ordinance that would have given the city a higher minimum wage than the rest of Missouri. The current minimum wage in Missouri is $7.65 per hour, 40 cents higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Steven Ohmer struck down the ordinance on October 14, a day before the first increase was to go into effect. In August, St. Louis passed the ordinance, which would have raised the minimum wage for workers in the city to $8.25 an hour on October 15. Under the ordinance, the minimum wage would have climbed to $9 an hour on January 1, 2016, $10 an hour on January 1, 2017, and $11 an hour on January 1, 2018.

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California getting tough law on gender wage gap

October 07, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers in California will have to comply with what’s being called the strongest equal pay law in the nation when it takes effect on January 1, 2016.

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., signed the California Fair Pay Act, Senate Bill 358, on October 6. A statement from the governor’s office says current law prohibits employers from paying a woman less than a man when they both perform equal work at the same establishment, but the new law will require equal pay regardless of gender for “substantially similar work.” The new law also will prohibit retaliation against employees who invoke the law and will protect employees who discuss wages.

The new law differs from current law in two key ways, according to Mark I. Schickman, an attorney with Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP in San Francisco. First, it requires employers to understand not only what the “same job” is but also what “comparable jobs” are. “That’s very different,” Schickman said. Plus, the law doesn’t provide employers guidance on how to figure that out. The second key difference is that the new law puts the burden of proof on the employer to justify differences in wages.

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Push for paid family leave gets boost from Washington, D.C., proposal

October 07, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A bill under consideration in the Washington, D.C., City Council would give most workers in the city the most generous paid family leave allowance in the country. The bill, introduced October 5, comes amid a push by President Barack Obama and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to encourage states and cities to adopt paid leave laws.

The bill would entitle most full- and part-time workers in the city to take up to 16 weeks of paid family leave to bond with an infant or an adopted child, recover from an illness, recuperate from a military deployment, or tend to an ill family member.

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NCAA rules limiting payments to college athletes may violate antitrust laws

October 01, 2015 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

by Nancy Williams

Certain NCAA rules designed to ensure “amateur status” of student athletes may violate federal antitrust laws, according to a decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling came in a case filed by Ed O’Bannon, a former All-American basketball player at UCLA. O’Bannon discovered that his name, likeness, and identity were being used in a college basketball video game without his having given permission or receiving compensation. He filed a lawsuit against the NCAA claiming that its rules barring compensation for student athletes amounted to an unlawful restraint of trade and thus violated antitrust laws.

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