Senate confirms ‘proemployer’ Gorsuch to Supreme Court

April 07, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. Because Gorsuch is known for adhering to the letter of the law, his confirmation likely is good news for employers, experts say.

Democrats initially filibustered Gorsuch’s confirmation, but Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” and changed the Senate rules to allow them to break filibusters of Supreme Court nominees with only 51 votes. Previously, that required 60 votes. On April 7, the Senate confirmed Gorsuch 54-45.

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In ‘landmark’ ruling, appeals court says sexual orientation discrimination is illegal

April 06, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, a federal appeals court ruled for the first time on April 4.

With its “landmark” ruling, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upended three decades of precedent and set up the issue for review by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Steven L. Brenneman, a partner with Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, and an editor of Illinois Employment Law Letter.

The decision applies only in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, but Brent E. Siler, an attorney at Butler Snow in Memphis and a contributor to Tennessee Employment Law Letter, said its effect reaches far beyond those three states. The ruling, combined with the federal government’s position on the issue, means employers must ensure they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation, Siler added.

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Labor secretary nominee Acosta advances to full Senate

March 30, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor has been approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Alexander Acosta now advances to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.

Acosta, a former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) member, generally has been praised by the employer community. He has a deep understanding of labor and employment issues and should be able to hit the ground running if confirmed, said Leslie E. Silverman, a shareholder at Fortney & Scott and contributor to Federal Employment Law Insider.

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Trump puts final nail in the coffin: Blacklisting rule ‘gone forever’

March 28, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump has signed a resolution voiding an Obama-era regulation that would have required federal contractors to disclose employment law violations to agencies that award contracts. His signature was the final step in the repeal process. “It was the stake through the heart of the blacklisting regs,” according to H. Juanita Beecher, of counsel with Fortney & Scott and an editor of Federal Employment Law Insider.

The move is a welcome one for federal contractors, which expected the so-called blacklisting rule to be incredibly burdensome, Beecher said. The rule was issued to implement President Barack Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which directed agencies to consider employment law disclosures when awarding contracts.

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GOP ‘still has options’ after pulling ACA repeal bill

March 27, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

On March 24, Republican lawmakers pulled their proposal to undo parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when it became clear they didn’t have the necessary votes to pass the bill in the House.

The American Health Care Act would have, among other things, effectively voided the ACA’s employer mandate, which requires large employers to offer workers affordable health insurance. It also would have delayed the “Cadillac tax” on high-value health plans and made a few small changes to employer plans. Employers’ reporting requirements, however, generally would have remained. (For a full review of the bill’s provisions, see “ACA repeal proposal: Employer mandate gone, Cadillac tax remains.”)

Support for the bill dwindled as lawmakers tried to make concessions, according to Eric Schillinger, an associate at Trucker Huss and a contributor to Federal Employment Law Insider. Each time Republicans amended the bill to appease one group, they alienated another, creating a tug-of-war, he explained. Instead of allowing the bill to come up short on the House floor, Republicans pulled it to save face, he said.

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‘Breathtakingly radical’: Acosta questions legality of any overtime threshold

March 23, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor has questioned whether the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has the authority to set any salary threshold for overtime pay—not just the pending increase that would raise the threshold to $47,476.

Alexander Acosta volunteered that concern twice during his March 22 confirmation hearing, despite no questions from lawmakers to that effect. A former DOL economist who worked under President Barack Obama called Acosta’s statements “breathtakingly radical,” noting that an overtime threshold has been in place since 1938.

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$15 minimum wage clears Baltimore City Council

by Kevin C. McCormick

On March 20, the Baltimore City Council voted 11-3 to approve a bill that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. If ultimately enacted, the minimum wage would be the highest in Maryland.

Under the proposed legislation, the minimum wage for employees working in the city would rise to $15 an hour by 2022. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees would have until 2026 to reach that threshold. There are exceptions for employees younger than 21 and workers who participate in training programs through the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Employment Development.

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Trump proposes ‘substantial’ DOL budget cut

March 17, 2017 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) would see a nearly 21 percent reduction in funding under the White House’s proposed 2018 discretionary spending budget, which was released March 16.

“A 21 percent cut is very substantial,” according to H. Juanita Beecher, of counsel with Fortney & Scott in Washington, D.C., and an editor of Federal Employment Law Insider. It’s unclear, however, which DOL subagencies will be affected, she said.

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Arizona Supreme Court upholds minimum wage, paid leave law

by Dinita L. James
Gonzalez Law, LLC

In a three-sentence order entered just before the close of business March 14, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, commonly known as Proposition 206. The unanimous ruling dashed the last remaining hope of business groups trying to block the voter initiative, which raised the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour on January 1 and mandates paid sick leave for most employees beginning July 1, 2017.

More than 58 percent of Arizona voters approved the law on the November 2016 ballot. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry led the legal challenge to the law, arguing it violated the Revenue Source Rule in the Arizona Constitution, which makes any citizen initiative that requires the expenditure of state funds specify from where the funds will come.

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CBO: Fewer employers would offer insurance under Obamacare replacement

March 14, 2017 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

On March 13, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its cost estimate of the effects of the proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replace legislation.

Deficits down, but number of uninsured up

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