Employers need to examine policies, laws in light of Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling

June 26, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage means employers across the country need to take a look at their policies as well as the effect the ruling has on various laws dealing with employment.

The Court’s 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges struck down prohibitions on gay marriage in states covered by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals—Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. But it has the effect of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

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Obamacare ruling means little change for employers

June 25, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

In a much-anticipated June 25 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court handed President Barack Obama a victory on his administration’s signature piece of legislation—the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although the ruling was crucial to the future of the healthcare law, it basically means business as usual for employers.

The Court ruled 6-3 in King v. Burwell that federal tax credits to subsidize healthcare coverage are authorized under the ACA. Opponents of the law argued that it doesn’t authorize subsidies to individuals in states that don’t offer a state-run healthcare exchange. Thirty-four states have not set up exchanges, so individuals in those states turn to a federal government exchange.

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Supreme Court sides with EEOC in religious discrimination case

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

A ruling in a closely watched religious discrimination case means employers may be liable for discrimination if they base employment decisions on an applicant’s suspected religious practices even in situations, such as the one in this case, in which the applicant hasn’t directly disclosed a need for a religious accommodation.

On June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., a case involving Samantha Elauf, a young Muslim woman who interviewed for a job in an Abercrombie store in Oklahoma in 2008. During the interview, she wore a head scarf as part of her Muslim faith. At the time, Abercrombie had a “look policy” prohibiting head coverings.

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Supreme Court allows judicial review of EEOC conciliation efforts

April 30, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed employers at least a small victory by unanimously ruling that courts are allowed to review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) conciliation efforts in discrimination cases.

On April 29, the Court imposed moderate standards for the conciliation efforts the EEOC is required to make before it files a lawsuit against an employer accused of unlawful discrimination.

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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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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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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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Get ready for Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage

January 20, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the issue of same-sex marriage, employers are weighing the impact a ruling will have.

On January 16, the Court announced that it would consider four cases from each of the states in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals—Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. On November 6, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit issued a decision that allowed state bans on same-sex marriage to stand. That decision was at odds with rulings from other circuit courts of appeal that had struck down similar bans.

After the 6th Circuit’s decision, many predicted that the split in decisions from different circuits would prompt the Supreme Court to take up the issue even though it declined to hear a same-sex marriage case before its term began in October. Now that it has decided to take up the issue after all, it is expected to hear arguments in April and issue a decision by the end of its term in June.

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New circuit ruling complicates same-sex marriage issue

November 07, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The issue of how employers should handle same-sex marriage got a bit murkier November 6 as a divided appeals court panel broke with rulings from four other U.S. circuit courts of appeals by upholding state bans on same-sex marriage.

A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the 2-1 decision, which allows bans on same-sex marriage in four states to stand. The court’s decision—affecting Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee—differs from other jurisdictions that have recently struck down similar state bans.

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