Legal Issues

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Supreme Court: President Was Wrong to Make NLRB Recess Appointments

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By Eric B. Meyer

In a unanimous opinion delivered yesterday in the case NLRB v. Noel Canning, the United States Supreme Court concluded that President Obama’s so-called “recess appointments” of three of the five members of the National Labor Relations Board between the Senate’s Jan. 3 and Jan. 6 pro forma sessions were unconstitutional.

Amy Howe from SCOTUSblog.com summarized the decision “in plain English”:

[A]ny recess that is shorter than three days is not long enough to make a recess appointment necessary. And a recess that is longer than three days but shorter than 10 days will, in the normal case, also be too short to necessitate a recess appointment.” …  Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

A Workplace With N-Words, Confederate Flags, But No Discrimination

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By Eric B. Meyer

Over the weekend, I read this opinion (Adams v. Austal) in a race-discrimination with facts so egregious, they’d make David Duke blush.

Let me set the scene for you: This is a workplace where, allegedly, several of the white employees displayed Confederate flag paraphernalia. I’ll spare you a verbatim review of the racial graffiti and epithets — you can view it here — but, it was pretty darn bad. And what about multiple nooses in the workplace — eight (8) in total. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

New Push to Expand the Number of Employees Subject to Overtime

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By Michael J. Lotito and Ilyse Wolens Schuman

Two months after President Obama issued an Executive Order directing the U.S. Department of Labor to “modernize and streamline” the agency’s “white collar” overtime exemption regulations governing the scope of the executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and computer exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Senate lawmakers have introduced legislation that builds on this idea.

Sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the Restoring Overtime Pay for Working Americans Act (S. 2486) would entitle substantially more workers to overtime compensation, and establish record keeping penalties for employers. Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

Technical FMLA Violations: No Harm, No Foul, No Issue For the Employer

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Sometimes employers do win in court, even if they’re in technical violation of the law.

One employer’s FMLA violation wasn’t enough to lose a lawsuit. Many claims involving the Family and Medical Leave Act are tied to the timeliness of notices.

The regulations are clear and specific for the maximum and minimum amount of time to send an employee notices relating to their FMLA claim. Employees have their own time requirements to perform such acts as returning medical certifications. This does not mean that all is lost for either party when a deadline is missed, if the required act is completed. Read more…

Compensation, HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Proposed Minimum Wage Regulations for Federal Contractors Released

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By John E. Thompson

The U.S. Department of Labor has released its proposed regulations implementing Executive Order 13658, President Obama’s directive to raise the minimum-wage rate for workers on federal contracts from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour (subject to annual increases after 2015).

We wrote about this initiative earlier in the year; we will not repeat those discussions here.

Identifying all ramifications of the 181-page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will necessitate a careful review. However, at least some ambiguities of the Executive Order itself appear to have been clarified. Read more…

Compensation, Legal Issues

Confusion in the Great Northwest: Behind Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage

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Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council voted to approve a gradual increase in the minimum wage, ultimately requiring city employees to be paid $15 per hour by 2017, or 2018 if the employer has more than 500 employees.

Smaller businesses will have five to seven years to phase in the increase and in either case part of tipped employees’ earnings can be applied toward the higher minimum wage for as long as 11 years. The new minimum wage ordinance will take effect April 1, 2015, when city employees making minimum wage will receive a mandatory increase to $10 per hour.

Clearly, the increase in minimum wage will have legal ramifications for both employers and their employees. Read more…

Legal Issues

The Background Check Checklist: Avoiding Pitfalls in Screening Process

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By Samantha Southall

There was a time when employment background checks were reserved for those entering very specific careers; government jobs with access to sensitive information, those working closely with children or finances and a handful of other public-facing corporate positions.

But in the last two decades, technology has made conducting background checks faster, cheaper and more convenient for employers. According to data from the Society of Human Resource Management, 73 percent of employers use criminal background checks on employees. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Changing Definition of a Supervisor Would Increase Employer Liability

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By Gregory Hanscom

Sen. Bernard “Bernie” Sanders, I – VT, recently joined 14 other Senators as co-sponsors of the Fair Employment Protection Act of 2014.

The intent of this legislation, which was introduced in the Senate last March, is to change the standard for holding employers vicariously liable for claims brought under federal anti-discrimination statues. An identical piece of legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives in March as well.

Under federal anti-discrimination statutes, an employer may be held vicariously liable for the discriminatory conduct of a supervisory employee. According to the proposed Fair Employment Protection Act, however, a 2013 Supreme Court decision severely limits the scope of who qualifies as a supervisor to those individuals possessing “authority to take tangible employment actions.” Read more…

HR Management, Legal Issues

The Ongoing Struggle to Implement Workplace Anti-Bullying Policies

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By Howard Mavity

Workplace and school violence events have contributed to our increasing national conversation about “bullying.”

  • Recently, NPR quoted a Zogby poll in which more than a quarter of American workers reported that they have experienced abusive conduct at work.
  • Some 64 percent of respondents to a Monster Global Poll felt that they had been “bullied, either physically hurt, driven to tears, or had their work performance harmed.”
  • Legislation is pending in a number of states and the topic regularly shows up in several media discussions. Read more…
HR Basics, Legal Issues

HR Basics: Is Telecommuting a Reasonable Accommodation?

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By Chastity C. Bruno

With today’s advances in technology, more employers have discovered the benefits of permitting employees to work from home – aka telecommuting.

However, the question becomes this: When does an employer have to provide a “telecommuting” accommodation for an employee due to a disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

In 1999, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that allowing an employee with a disability to work from home may be a reasonable accommodation. The ADA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide a reasonable accommodation to qualified employees with disabilities. Read more…