EEOC calling for changes to ADA regulations related to wellness programs

April 16, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing how employer wellness programs can be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The EEOC announced the proposed rule on April 16, and it was published in the Federal Register on April 20. Members of the public have until June 19 to submit comments. In addition to the notice, the EEOC has published a fact sheet for small businesses and a question-and-answer document.

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McDonald’s joins Wal-Mart in boosting wages

April 02, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The wage and benefit increases McDonald’s announced on April 1 put the fast-food giant on the same path retailer Wal-Mart took in February when it announced an increase in its starting wage.

McDonald’s announced that beginning July 1, it will raise starting pay at company-owned restaurants to $1 over the locally mandated minimum wage. Full- and part-time workers at company-owned restaurants who have at least one year of service also will begin accruing paid time off. And workers at both company-owned and franchised restaurants will see expanded educational opportunities.

The company says the wage and time-off benefits will affect more than 90,000 workers at about 10 percent of McDonald’s restaurants nationwide.

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Texas judge puts FMLA rule’s new definition of spouse on hold

March 27, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

For the time being, employers in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage don’t have to comply with a new rule changing the definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The rule was to take effect on March 27, but a federal district judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction on March 26 in response to a challenge from the attorneys general in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska.

District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the states making the challenge showed a likelihood that they would prevail and that they would be irreparably harmed if the rule were allowed to take effect. If the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) rule is allowed to take effect, it will require employers covered by the FMLA to allow eligible employees to take leave under the Act to care for same-sex spouses.

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Supreme Court clarifies employer obligations related to pregnant workers

March 25, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 2 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Young v. United Parcel Service means employers need to think twice before treating pregnant employees under job restrictions differently than they treat nonpregnant employees who are similarly unable to perform their jobs temporarily.

In a 6-3 ruling handed down March 25, the Court reached for middle ground between interpretations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) offered by both parties as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). By sending the case back to the lower court, the justices revived the employee’s claim that her treatment violated the PDA.

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Utah passes historic legislation against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination

by Ryan B. Frazier

On March 12, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law newly enacted legislation aimed at preventing employment and housing discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals. The monumental legislation amends the state’s antidiscrimination law to prohibit employers statewide from making employment decisions based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the law, a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be the basis for refusing to hire, refusing to promote, demoting, or terminating him or her. Utah law already banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, pregnancy, national origin, and disability.

The new law also provides safeguards for religious freedoms. The law exempts religious leaders and organizations such as churches and religious schools and their affiliates from the application of the new provisions. It also exempts the Boy Scouts of America or any of its subsidiaries or councils.

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Supreme Court decision gives agencies more leeway on rule interpretations

March 09, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling handing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) a victory on how it can issue interpretations of its rules has major implications for employers, according to Judith E. Kramer, an attorney with Fortney & Scott, LLC, in Washington, D.C., and an editor of Federal Employment Law Insider.

The Court’s March 9 decision in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association means the DOL’s most recent interpretation that mortgage loan officers are eligible for overtime is valid. “The long-term impact of the Court’s decision, however, is much more significant for employers and, more broadly, for any person or entity subject to regulation by federal administrative agencies,” Kramer said.

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Seattle’s new minimum wage ordinance takes effect April 1

by Valerie Hughes and Aurora Janke

Seattle’s new minimum wage ordinance goes into effect April 1, meaning employers—regardless of size—must pay employees working in the city at least $11 per hour.

Employers with 501 or more employees must pay a “minimum wage” of $11 per hour, while employers with 500 or fewer employees must pay a “minimum compensation” rate of $11 per hour. The definition of “minimum wage” includes wages, commissions, piece-rate pay, and bonuses received by employees. “Minimum compensation” includes wages, tips, and money paid by an employer toward employees’ medical benefits. Thus, small employers are able to count tips and medical benefit payments to help them reach the $11 minimum compensation rate.

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Spouses of certain H-1B visa workers now eligible for employment authorization

February 25, 2015 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published final regulations that will extend employment authorization eligibility to spouses of certain nonimmigrant workers who are in the United States on H-1B visas.

The H-1B, or highly-skilled worker, visa is the most commonly discussed and highly sought employment-based nonimmigrant visa. The number of visas available each year is closely capped—20,000 for applicants holding master’s degrees and 65,000 for those holding bachelor’s degrees—so selection is often made using a random lottery. For the 2015 fiscal year, 172,500 applications for H-1B visas were submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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New rule extends FMLA rights to more employees in same-sex marriages

February 24, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

More employees in same-sex marriages will be able to take leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as a result of a new rule taking effect March 27. And while employers in states that recognize same-sex marriage already have been operating under a definition of spouse that includes legally married same-sex partners, employers in other states will need to change their practices.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule that was published in the Federal Register on February 25 that revises the definition of spouse under the law so that eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member regardless of whether they live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, according to the DOL’s explanation of the new rule.

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Obama takes steps toward requiring paid sick leave

January 15, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Is it a sensible plan to boost productivity and give workers the help they deserve, or is it an unaffordable, unfair mandate on already overburdened employers? President Barack Obama’s announcement of a push to pass a paid sick leave law is likely to garner both reactions.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, launched the effort January 14 with a post on the career-centered social network LinkedIn, a venue chosen because of its high profile with employers.

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