LGBT Rights Up in the Air

Posted in Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation

Changes that may impact LGBT rights in the workplace have employers spinning. This week’s news about the Trump administration’s rescission of federal guidance allowing transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity seems philosophically at odds with a White House statement last month in which the President said he would continue to enforce a prior executive order protecting the rights of the LGBT community in the workplace. That statement followed the leaked executive order that was viewed as paving the way to effectively legalize discrimination against members of the LBGT community and others in the name of religious freedom. That draft order was ultimately scuttled. Continue Reading

States May Step Into Void Created by Demise of DOL’s Overtime Rule

Posted in Employment & Consulting Contracts, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Wage & Hour

Since the Department of Labor announced the new overtime rule last May, we have been closely following its rocky implementation in a series of posts. Presently, the rule – which would render an estimated 4 million workers eligible for overtime by effectively doubling the salary threshold for exempt employees to $47,476 – remains stayed by a federal court in Texas.  Further, the new administration is widely expected to block the rule, either by allowing it to die in the courts or by taking affirmative action to repeal it.  Accordingly, it appears that the federal overtime rule is unlikely to ever take effect.  Continue Reading

What’s in a Pronoun? Liability for Employers

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation, Employment Litigation

Political correctness in the workplace has become increasingly complex. Employers who have referred to transitioning employees with the wrong pronoun have found themselves in the crosshairs of the EEOC. But what about those employees who do not identify with either gender and prefer a gender neutral pronoun? Say, what? Continue Reading

Revised Version of the Form I-9 Became Mandatory on January 22, 2017

Posted in Immigration Planning & Compliance

As of January 22, 2017, U.S. employers should be using the new Form I-9 for Employment Eligibility Verification, available here.

Federal immigration law requires that U.S. employers use the Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment authorization of new employees and to re-verify continuing employment authorization of existing workers who hold temporary employment authorization only. All U.S. employers must properly complete a Form I-9 for each individual hired in the U.S. after November 6, 1986, regardless of the individual’s citizenship. Continue Reading

Stress Claims Stressing Employers Out

Posted in Disability, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention

Let’s face it: work can be stressful. So what’s an employer to do when an employee requests a stress-free or less stressful work environment as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act? As always, it depends. While the ADA generally requires employers to engage in the interactive process to determine whether they can accommodate employees with disabilities, there occasionally are circumstances where they don’t have to do so. Continue Reading

Employer Exposure Increases: Emotional Distress Damages in FLSA Cases

Posted in Employment Litigation, Wage & Hour

The number of federal courts allowing plaintiffs to recover emotional distress damages in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) retaliation cases is expanding, with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last month joining two other circuits that have permitted such damages. The case Pineda v. JTCH Apartments, L.L.C. (5th Circuit December 19, 2016), involved maintenance employee Santiago Pineda, who lived and worked at an apartment complex owned by the defendant, JTCH Apartments, LLC. As part of his compensation, Pineda received a discount on his rent. Continue Reading

Medical Marijuana and the Workplace

Posted in Disability, Employee Handbooks & Policies, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation, Employment Litigation, Workplace Safety & OSHA

With the growing list of states legalizing marijuana, are workplace drug policies up in smoke? As the new year begins, Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota join the growing list of states that have legalized medical marijuana. Currently, 28 states* and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana use for certain medicinal purposes, and eight states** and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes to some extent. The rules and regulations implementing these changes won’t be finalized and put into effect immediately – for instance, the Florida Department of Health has until July 3, 2017 to promulgate regulations for licensing and distribution and until October 3, 2017 to begin issuing medical marijuana identification cards. Even so, it’s best to analyze the impact of the changing marijuana landscape now and prepare for the future. Continue Reading

Minimum Wages Climb

Posted in Wage & Hour

Workers will now receive higher minimum wages mandated by state law in 19 states, effective this month. Florida’s minimum wage increased to $8.10 an hour from $8.05 an hour, effective January 1. Tipped employees in Florida are now entitled to receive a minimum of $5.08 an hour. Workers in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington also will see higher minimum wages. Two other states and Washington, D.C. are slated to implement minimum wage increases later this year.

In addition to the increases required by state laws, covered employees working on federal contracts are entitled to receive $10.20 per hour, effective January 1, 2017, and covered tipped employees working on such contracts must be paid at least $6.80 per hour.

The federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour in 2009, remains unchanged.