Proposed West Virginia regulations spell change to wage and hour landscape

by Rodney Bean

The West Virginia Division of Labor (DOL) has proposed emergency regulations that, if enforced in their present form, could force West Virginia employers to change by December 31 a number of common wage and hour practices that comply with long-standing federal regulations.

Although the state DOL’s emergency rules purport to adopt vast portions of federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations, they simultaneously impose several new rules that contradict or otherwise differ from those same federal regulations, particularly as they relate to the determination of what constitutes compensable working time.

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NLRB says employees may use company computers for organizing activity

December 12, 2014 - by: HR Hero 2 COMMENTS

In perhaps one of its boldest moves, on December 11, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturned existing precedent and held that employees have the right to use their employer’s e-mail system for Section 7 concerted activity, including union-organizing activities, during nonbusiness hours. The decision obviously affects employers’ policies on employee e-mail use.

As background, the NLRB previously held in Register Guard, 351 NLRB 1110 (2007), that employers could bar employee use of their e-mail systems for nonbusiness purposes, including union or other communications protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), so long as the employer does so on a nondiscriminatory basis. In other words, the employer did not have to let employees use its e-mail system when it came to union business, including organizing campaigns.

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New laws affecting Illinois employers take effect January 1

by Steven L. Brenneman

Illinois employers need to be aware of a few new laws taking effect January 1.

Ban the box

One of the new laws, the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, prohibits most private-sector employers and employment agencies with 15 or more employees from asking applicants about their criminal histories and conducting criminal background checks until after they are deemed qualified for a job.

Under the law, employers may not inquire about, consider, or require disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until he has been deemed qualified for a position and has been notified that he has been selected for an interview. If there is no interview, the employer may not inquire into the applicant’s criminal record or criminal history until after making a conditional offer of employment.

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New Jersey cities getting paid sick leave laws

by Kevin J. Skelly

Paid sick leave laws are gaining ground in New Jersey, as new laws in several cities are scheduled to take effect in the coming weeks and months.

Paterson, Irvington, Passaic, Newark, East Orange, Jersey City, Trenton, and Montclair have passed laws either in city councils or, in the case of Trenton and Montclair, in the November general election.

Jersey City was the first city in the state to pass a paid sick time law, with its law going into effect in January 2014. Newark’s law took effect in May. The laws in Paterson, Irvington, East Orange, and Passaic go into effect in January 2015. Voters in Trenton and Montclair passed versions of a paid sick leave law in the November election, and their laws are to take effect March 4.

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LGBT final rule for contractors published

December 05, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The final rule implementing President Barack Obama’s Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees and applicants based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been published in the December 9 Federal Register.

The rule implements Executive Order 13672, which Obama signed on July 21. The order directed the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to update rules to add gender identity and sexual orientation to classes protected by law. Obama had hoped Congress would pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have covered more employers than just those with government contracts, but that bill has not passed.

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Controversial EEOC official reconfirmed as general counsel

December 03, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

P. David Lopez, general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), won confirmation for another four-year term on a 53-43 Senate vote on December 3. The Senate also voted 93-2 to confirm Charlotte Burrows to a seat on the commission.

Lopez became the agency’s general counsel in April 2010. Before taking the general counsel post, he held various EEOC positions during a two-decade career with the agency.

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Chicago City Council raises minimum wage

by Steven L. Brenneman

With a mayoral election looming and opponents challenging him from the left, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through a Chicago ordinance that will gradually increase the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2019. Currently, the state minimum wage is $8.25 per hour. The new Chicago ordinance, passed December 2, establishes a $10-per-hour minimum wage on July 1, 2015. Increases of 50 cents per hour would be imposed in 2016 and 2017. After that, $1-per-hour increases would take effect in 2018 and 2019, with inflation-based increases thereafter.

The ordinance also raises the minimum wage for tipped employees by $1 over two years from the current state minimum of $4.95 to $5.45 as of July 1, 2015, and $5.95 as of July 1, 2016, to be indexed to inflation thereafter.

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Part of once-delayed ACA employer mandate takes effect January 1

by Douglas R. Chamberlain

Employers got a reprieve in 2014 on a key mandate incorporated in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but the new effective date for many employers is now set for January 1, 2015.

The ACA generally provides that all employers with 50 or more employees who work 30 or more hours per week must offer their employees health insurance coverage. This “employer mandate” was originally slated to take effect January 1, 2014, but during 2013, the Obama administration delayed the effective date to 2015.

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$10.10 minimum wage for contractors set for January 1

December 01, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

President Barack Obama’s Executive Order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors and subcontractors is set to take effect for all federal contracts beginning on or after January 1.

Obama signed Executive Order 13658 on February 12. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the final rule implementing the order on October 1. The DOL has said the order will affect nearly 200,000 workers.

Obama had urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to $10.10 an hour, but that effort failed in Congress. The current minimum wage, in force since 2009, is $7.25 an hour. Obama’s Executive Order applies only to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. Congressional action is necessary to raise the general minimum wage.

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Employers await effects of Executive Order on immigration

November 21, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

While political wrangling over President Barack Obama’s newest Executive Order rages, employers need to understand the impact the immigration order will have on their workplaces.

Obama announced what he’s calling the Immigration Accountability Executive Actions in an address November 20. A fact sheet from the White House says the order will “crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.”

Obama’s plan includes three main elements: (1) increased border security, (2) an emphasis on deporting people deemed a threat to national security and public safety, such as suspected terrorists, violent criminals, gang members, and recent border crossers, and (3) an expansion of a program allowing undocumented immigrants to temporarily stay in the United States if they register, pass background checks, and pay taxes.

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