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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Employers should review policies on same-sex couples in wake of Supreme Court decision

October 07, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

With the U.S. Supreme Court deciding not to take up a case to settle the same-sex marriage issue on the national level, employers need to understand how the Court’s decision affects their policies.

As it opened its new term on October 6, the Supreme Court declined to review one of seven cases from five states up for consideration. The Court’s decision means that rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th, 7th, and 10th Circuits will stand. The rulings struck down state prohibitions on same-sex marriage.

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NLRB ratifies some actions taken with recess appointees

August 05, 2014 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has announced that it has ratified some of the actions it took while it was made up of mostly recess appointees who have since been judged to be invalid. However, the ratification likely won’t have any effect on the cases decided during that time, according to John P. Hasman, a partner in the St. Louis office of Armstrong Teasdale.

In a statement released August 4, the Board said that on July 18, it unanimously ratified all administrative, personnel, and procurement actions it took while it was operating with the recess appointees—January 4, 2012, to August 5, 2013.

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High court lets Hobby Lobby, others opt out of contraception coverage under ACA

June 30, 2014 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 3 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) again this term, and today, it held in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that the ACA’s contraceptive mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) as it is applied to “closely held corporations.” According to the Court’s 5-4 opinion, the mandate “substantially burdens the exercise of religion.”

Under the ACA (and related Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations), many health insurance plans must cover certain preventive services for women without cost sharing (e.g., coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles). These preventive services include contraceptive methods and counseling—or more specifically, “all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”

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