Job Descriptions Can Be A Shield or Sword

Posted in Disability, Medical & Other Leaves, Wage & Hour

Job descriptions can be a shield or a sword for employers. In addition to setting clear job expectations, informing candidates of what the job entails, and providing a framework for evaluations, they are often used in litigation arising from workplace claims.

Job descriptions can be critical in litigating actions under the Fair Labor Standard Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the FMLA. Most employers know job descriptions are important, but are you doing them right? Let’s look at how they can be used in different workplace claims. Continue Reading

NLRB Weighs in on Confidentiality, Personal Use of Company Email, and Other Workplace Policies

Posted in Labor Relations

Employers should be careful about designating Employee Handbooks confidential as, according to the National Labor Relations Board’s advice division, that would be unlawful.  That advice was contained in one of five memoranda issued by the advice division last month. While not binding on the Board and not official Board precedent, advice memoranda provide guidance to the Board’s Regional Offices on how to handle difficult and novel issues that arise. The recent memoranda cover a variety of workplace issues and apply to both unionized and non-unionized worksites. While the advice division found that particular handbook confidentiality rule to be unlawful, it greenlit several other work rules providing employers with useful guidance when drafting and updating their employee handbooks. Continue Reading

Tread Carefully – DC Federal Judge Weakens Association Health Plan Regulation

Posted in Employee Benefits

A recent ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia calls into question the recently expanded regulations allowing small employers to band together to establish Association Health Plans. This development should be monitored closely by employers and employer organizations currently sponsoring, or considering sponsoring, these plans. Continue Reading

USCIS Introduces Two-Phased Approach to Premium Processing for FY 2020 H-1B Cap Cases

Posted in Immigration Planning & Compliance

As of April 1, 2019, U.S. employers requesting a change of status for H-1B hopefuls should request Premium Processing by concurrently filing visa petitions with Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, available here. But don’t expect the Federal Immigration Service to begin working immediately. In a statement released on March 19, 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that “Premium Processing” – a 15-day expedited service available in exchange for a $1,410 filing fee – will not immediately begin for H-1B cap cases this fiscal year. While USCIS plans to formally notify the public when Premium Processing begins for lottery (“cap-subject”) H-1B visa petitions, employers should expect Premium Processing to commence for H-1B cases requesting a change of status by no later than May 20, 2019. Employers looking to hire foreign national students who are currently inside the U.S. and maintaining lawful immigration status are expected to benefit most from the Immigration Services’ latest procedural shift. Continue Reading

Age Discrimination Claims Limited for Job Applicants

Posted in Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation

A second federal appellate circuit has ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the ADEA) does not apply to job applicants’ claims that a policy or practice has a disparate impact on older individuals. In so holding, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, covering Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, joins the Eleventh Circuit, covering Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.

However, while employers in those states may now successfully argue that job applicants’ disparate impact claims cannot be brought under the ADEA, the same is not necessarily true of state laws. It is possible that more plaintiffs will now simply pursue such claims in state court. Continue Reading

Court Ruling Revives Pay Data EEO-1 Reporting Requirements

Posted in Wage & Hour

Employers may need to begin collecting pay and hours data to report on EEO-1 forms, now that a federal district judge revived the controversial requirement put in place during the Obama administration. During that administration, the EEO-1 form was revised to require employers with 100 or more employees to report earnings and hours worked within 12 pay bands, in addition to reporting race, ethnicity, and sex. In August of 2017, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) stayed the requirement, but a lawsuit was brought by The National Women’s Law Center and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement in the federal district court in Washington D.C. On March 4, 2019, the federal district judge vacated the stay, finding that OMB did not sufficiently justify its rationale for blocking the rule. The judge then went a step further, pointedly stating that “OMB’s deficiencies were substantial, and the court finds it unlikely that the government could justify its decision on remand, despite its assertion that ‘OMB could easily cure the defects in its memorandum by further explanation of its reasoning.’” Continue Reading

New Salary Threshold for Employees Exempt from Overtime

Posted in Wage & Hour

Exempt employees would have to be paid a minimum annual salary of $35,308 in order to be exempt from the overtime and record keeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, under the Department of Labor’s long-awaited proposed new rule. The proposed new salary threshold represents almost a 50% increase over the current threshold of $23,660 but is substantially less than the 2016 threshold of $47,476 adopted under the Obama administration. A Texas court blocked the Obama era regulation from taking effect in November 2016, and the DOL later abandoned it.

As a result of the new threshold proposed by the Department of Labor on March 7, 2019, nearly 1.1 million employees previously exempt from overtime will likely become entitled to overtime based solely on their salary. The new regulation is now open for a 60-day public comment period, after which the DOL will issue a final rule. The final rule is not expected to go into effect until January of 2020, so employers have some time to prepare and adjust their policies and practices in anticipation of the change. Continue Reading

National Labor Relations Board Continues Trend of Employer-Friendly Actions

Posted in Labor Relations

The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) recent decision significantly revising the independent contractor standard will allow more workers to be so classified and therefore unable to unionize. This decision continues the Board’s growing trend towards employer-friendly positions and scaling back Obama-era developments. In other action this winter, the Board has proposed rulemaking modifying the joint employer test and limited its definition of “protected concerted activity.”  Continue Reading

Don’t Sell Your Company Short: Properly Classify Sales Employees

Posted in Wage & Hour

While certain sales employees are exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements under federal and state laws, others are not. Getting it wrong can be a costly mistake, so employers are well advised to ensure their salespeople are properly classified.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides that employees engaged in “outside sales” are exempt from overtime, but those engaged in “inside sales” are not – except when they fall under a separate exemption. But what constitutes “outside” vs. “inside” sales? If your employee doesn’t have to come to the office and conducts sales from home, that’s outside sales, right? Actually, wrong. What about an employee who delivers, stocks, solicits sales and obtains orders for baked goods at customer locations? It depends. Continue Reading

Religious Accommodation Requests: What Employers Should Know

Posted in Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation

Employers must walk a tightrope when dealing with an employee or applicant seeking a religious accommodation as demonstrated by two recent court cases with opposite results.

In one case, a federal appellate court decided that a job applicant whose offer was rescinded after she asked for a religious accommodation did not have a retaliation claim because her request did not amount to “opposition” of an unlawful employment practice under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In the other, a jury awarded $21 million to a hotel dishwasher who was forced to work Sundays after being accommodated for her religion for years. Continue Reading

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