California employers must adjust to new laws on leave, pay, criminal history

Pay equity, parental leave, and criminal history are hot topics that have been grabbing attention for some time, and employers in California now need to prepare for three newly signed laws addressing those issues.

The new laws include restrictions on employers asking applicants questions related to salary history and criminal history and impose new parental leave requirements on small employers.

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Trump administration discontinues ACA’s CSR payments

October 16, 2017 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

On October 12, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Acting Secretary Eric Hargan and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma released a statement announcing that cost-sharing reductions (CSR) payments were to be immediately discontinued based on a legal opinion from the attorney general.

In part, the statement noted that “we believe that the last Administration overstepped the legal boundaries drawn by our Constitution. Congress has not appropriated money for CSRs, and we will discontinue these payments immediately.”

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New Executive Order seeks to expand health insurance options

October 12, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

After several failed legislative attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Donald Trump is now taking matters into his own hands.

On October 12, Trump signed a new Executive Order (EO) designed to “expand choices and alternatives to Obamacare plans and increase competition to bring down costs for consumers,” according to a White House press release.

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New law bans New York City employers from asking for salary history

by Charles H. Kaplan and Theresa M. Levine

Employers in New York City will be prohibited from asking applicants about their previous salary when an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) goes into effect on October 31.

The amendment prohibits employers from asking about applicants’ wages, salaries, benefits, and other compensation history during the process of hiring or negotiating an employment contract. Also, the amendment prohibits employers from asking an applicant’s current or prior employer about wages and makes it unlawful for an employer to search publicly available records or reports to obtain an applicant’s salary history.

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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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Montana minimum wage to increase to $8.30 on January 1

by Jason S. Ritchie

On September 29, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) announced that the Montana minimum wage will rise to $8.30 per hour on January 1, 2018. Under Montana law, the DOLI is required to annually review the Consumer Price Index and adjust the state minimum wage to reflect increases in the cost of living. The DOLI recently completed its annual review, and Montana workers who earn minimum wage will see an increase from $8.15 per hour to $8.30 per hour on January 1.

Jason Ritchie is the editor of Montana Employment Law Letter and a partner with Ritchie Manning LLP in Billings. You can reach him at jritchie@ritchiemanning.com.

Supreme Court tackles case posing threat to public-sector unions

September 29, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers—especially public-sector employers—are eagerly awaiting the outcome of a case going to the U.S. Supreme Court that may deal a blow to unions’ ability to collect dues.

On September 28, the Court announced that it will hear Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Counsel 31. The case, out of Illinois, challenges the union’s right to collect what’s known as “fair share” or “agency” fees from employees who don’t belong to the union and are covered under union-negotiated contracts.

With the addition of conservative Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to the Court earlier this year, many expect a union defeat.

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More probusiness NLRB on the way as Emanuel wins confirmation

September 25, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

As William Emanuel takes a seat on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), employers will see the panel going in a more probusiness and less union-friendly direction, Board watchers say, but it will take a while before cases come up to roll back recent decisions.

Emanuel, an attorney representing management in labor and employment matters, won confirmation by the Senate on September 25, giving the panel its first Republican majority in 10 years. Emanuel most recently practiced in the Los Angeles office of large management-side law firm Littler Mendelson.

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