Minneapolis employers must prepare for new paid sick leave law

by Dennis Merley

In a unanimous vote, the Minneapolis City Council has passed a paid sick and safe leave ordinance that is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2017.

The ordinance covers all employers with one or more employees, but employers with fewer than six employees must provide only unpaid sick and safe leave.

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Ruling gives employees more time to file constructive discharge claims

May 24, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

A May 23 U.S. Supreme Court ruling clears up questions about how long employees have to file constructive discharge claims, and the decision likely means more pressure for employers potentially facing such lawsuits.

In Green v. Brennan, the Court ruled 7-1 that a U.S. Postal Service employee in Englewood, Colorado, filed a constructive discharge claim within the time period allowed for such claims. The employer had maintained that the claim came too late, and the lower courts agreed.

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DOL poised to release new overtime final rule

May 17, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The long-awaited final rule making millions more employees eligible to earn overtime pay is likely to be released on May 18, and if its contents match recent reports, employers and employees alike are in for big changes.

The Politico news organization reports that Vice President Joe Biden, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown will announce the rule at an event in Columbus, Ohio, on May 18. The report says the rule places the minimum salary for an employee to maintain exempt status at $47,500, up from the current rule’s floor of $455 a week ($23,660 a year).

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EEOC’s new wellness program rules give employers more to consider

May 16, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers are getting a look at new final rules affecting how they structure wellness programs, rules that are meant to clear up conflicts among various federal laws but that also may make administration of wellness programs more challenging.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) new rules describe how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) apply to employer wellness programs that request health information from employees and their spouses. The rules—one dealing with the ADA and the other with GINA—explain how workplace wellness programs can comply with the ADA and GINA consistent with provisions in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Employers must meet new safety data requirement by June 1

by Jacob Monty

Employers need to be ready for a new requirement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that changes the format of safety data related to chemicals in the workplace.

OSHA is replacing its material safety data sheet (MSDS) requirement with a more uniform document called the safety data sheet (SDS). The deadline for employers to comply is June 1.

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New rule extends employment term for international STEM students

by Elaine Young

The rules affecting how long international students in certain fields can work in the United States without changing their visa status will change on May 10.

Currently, when international students in F-1 visa status graduate with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate from a U.S. school, they can work for one year, in a period called Optional Practical Training (OPT), in a job related to their major field of study. That training period is being extended for international students with science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) degrees from U.S. schools.

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Utah law puts new limits on noncompete agreements

by Ryan B. Frazier

A new law passed by the Utah Legislature and signed by Governor Gary Herbert places new restrictions on noncompetition agreements signed after May 10.

All requirements imposed under common law not specifically changed by the new law are still applicable, meaning that noncompetition agreements must protect a legitimate business interest of the employer and must be reasonably limited in geographic scope.

The primary change is the creation of a statutory limitation on the duration of a covenant not to compete. Under the new law, an employer and an employee cannot enter into a noncompetition agreement that lasts more than one year from the date the employee is no longer employed by the employer.

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New Mexico workers’ comp law addresses workers under the influence

by Barbara J. Koenig
Foster, Rieder & Jackson, P.C.

A new law in New Mexico is designed to clear up confusion on how workers’ compensation benefits can be lowered when a worker is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The law will go into effect on May 18.

The new law was enacted because New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration (WCA) judges have faced troubling issues raised by two conflicting statutes. One law said a worker found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of an injury wouldn’t be entitled to any workers’ comp indemnity benefits at all. Another law said the judge must reduce benefits by 10%.

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Uber settlement keeps independent contractor business model

April 22, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Drivers for ride-hailing giant Uber will continue to be independent contractors under the terms of a settlement of class-action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts if the settlement receives court approval.

The settlement, announced on April 21, will require the company to pay drivers an initial $84 million and possibly as much as $100 million. Despite the financial hit, Uber is claiming victory in what it calls the key issue in the lawsuits—whether its drivers should be classified as independent contractors or employees. That question is likely to come up again, according to an attorney following developments affecting the use of independent contractors in the “sharing economy.”

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New Tennessee law ‘bans the box’ for state government jobs

April 18, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Tennessee has joined the list of states passing some form of “ban the box” legislation with the passage of Senate Bill 2440. Governor Bill Haslam signed the measure on April 14.

Many states, counties, and cities across the country have joined the ban-the-box movement by prohibiting job applications that require applicants to check a box indicating whether they have a criminal record.

Tennessee’s law doesn’t affect private-sector employers. Instead, it prohibits state employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on the initial application. The law has an exception for (1) positions that require a criminal background check under federal law and (2) positions for which the commission of an offense is a disqualifying event for employment under federal or state law.

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