Legal Issues

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

U.S. Senate Once Again Rejects Paycheck Protection Act

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By Ilyse Wolens Schuman

As expected, U.S. Senate supporters of the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199) failed to muster the 60 votes needed to advance the bill to a floor vote.

This bill would have, among other things:

  • Expanded damages available under the Equal Pay Act (EPA) to include potentially unlimited compensatory and punitive awards for wage discrimination; Read more…
Compensation, Legal Issues

The Disinformation Surrounding the “Tipped-Employee Minimum Wage”

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By John E. Thompson

A White House report promoting a substantial jump in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act‘s minimum wage perpetuates now widely disseminated propaganda about an alleged “tipped employee minimum wage” of $2.13 per hour.

The fact is that there is no such thing. Talk of a so-called “tipped minimum wage” is designed in part to create a false impression that tipped employees are typically relegated to making less than the actual FLSA minimum wage. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Is OSHA’s Temp Worker Initiative Foreshadowing Things To Come?

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I support OSHA’s temporary worker focus. Employers need to take more steps to ensure that temporary employees don’t fall through the cracks and do not receive adequate safety training.

However, employers should also make long-term plans based on what the initiative tells us more broadly about where workplace enforcement is heading.

Let’s break our discussion into two subjects: Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

High Court Extends Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Law to Most Employees

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By Ed Ellis, Gregory Keating, and Stephen Melnick

In Lawson v. FMR LLC, the U.S. Supreme Court massively expanded the scope of the anti-retaliation provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), from 4,500 publicly held companies to millions of private companies that are “contractors,” “subcontractors” or “agents” of a publicly held company.

Going forward, privately held employers should be aware that SOX provides a remedy for almost all U.S. employees who suffer adverse employment actions for reporting fraud. Employers should train their management and human resources personnel to identify potential employment issues of this type and remedy them before they become costly litigation. Read more…

Legal Issues, News

More States Bump Up Workplace Protections for Pregnant Women

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By Ashley Kaplan

When Jennifer Latowski, a certified nursing assistant at Northwoods Nursing Center, shared with her supervisor that she was pregnant, she was asked to obtain a doctor’s note stating that she had no work restrictions.

Instead, Latowski’s physician issued a 50-pound lifting restriction.

As a result, Northwoods told Latowski she could no longer work for them because they only accommodated restrictions caused from work-related incidents. Latowski filed a wrongful termination suit claiming disability and pregnancy discrimination in Latowski v. Northwoods Nursing Center. Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

Alcoholism on the Job: The Tricky Issue Handling It Under the ADA

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By Eric B. Meyer

Alcoholism is generally a disability.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the term “disability” is broadly defined.

What matters is that the impairment substantially limits a major life activity. What doesn’t matter are the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures,” including such things as therapy, medication, or reasonable accommodations.

How does that relate to alcoholism? Read more…

HR Technology, Legal Issues

The Unintended Consequences When Workers Bring Their Devices to Work

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By Paul Starkman

At the top of the list of risks guaranteed to give HR a headache this year is employee use of personal technology for work.

It was only a few short years ago that employers began to embrace the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, allowing employees to use their personal phones, tablets and laptops for work.

Today, bring-your-own-device into the workplace is a given, with nearly two-thirds of technology-dependent Millennials using a personal device at work. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Republican Bills Would Halt NLRB’s “Ambush” Union Election Rule

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By Ilyse Wolens Schuman and Michael J. Lotito

As a preemptive strike against a final “ambush” representation election rule, Republican lawmakers in both chambers introduced legislation that would blunt its intended effects.

In February, the National Labor Relations Board reissued its controversial proposal that would not only expedite union election procedures, but also fundamentally alter the way elections are carried out, and remove many employer due process rights.

The reissued proposal was substantively the same as that initially introduced in June 2011, which triggered over 65,000 comments. The Board will hold public hearings on this proposed rule in the coming weeks. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Appeals Court Says Yes, Employees CAN Openly Discuss Wages

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By Eric B. Meyer

Over the past several years, seemingly, we’re seen the National Labor Relations Board take a more active interest in employee handbooks.

We’ve certainly seen it with respect to social media policies; especially, where these policies purport to limit the rights of employees to discuss their employment with one another. This is because Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act allows employees to discuss their terms and conditions of employment together.

And you don’t need to have a union either. The act applies in most every private-sector workplace. Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

Get Ready, Because the H-1B Visa Games Are Ready to Begin

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By Shanon R. Stevenson

The Hunger Games Katniss Everdeen’s bow and arrow will not help employers on April 1, 2014 when the competition for H-1B work visas begins.

On April 1, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting H-1B petitions for foreign workers in professional or specialty occupation jobs to fill the 65,000 available slots for applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent and the 20,000 available slots for applicants who hold a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Read more…