Category Archives: Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention

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Halloween Parties Can Leave Employers “Haunted” By Discrimination

The last week of October can result in “double, double toil, and trouble” for employers. While workplace Halloween festivities may boost employee morale, they can also result in employer liability for discrimination and harassment in the workplace in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and applicable state and local laws. To protect against this potential … Continue Reading

Hot Tip: End May Be Near for 80/20 Rule!

Employers in the hospitality and restaurant industry are poised for celebration: the Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed eliminating a rule that requires tracking the time tipped employees devote to non-tip producing activities when counting employees’ tips toward the employer’s minimum wage obligations. The DOL has taken the position that employers cannot claim a tip credit if a tipped employee … Continue Reading

Does the ADA Protect Employees from Discrimination Based on Potential Future Disabilities?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not protect employees from discrimination based on potential future disabilities, according to a recent ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. However, employers in other parts of the country should be more cautious. For example, federal courts in Illinois reached the opposite conclusion holding that … Continue Reading

Department of Labor Final Rule Increases Salary Threshold for Exempt Employees

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its long-awaited Final Rule stating that all employees who make less than $684 a week, or $35,568 per year, must earn overtime pay. This new requirement replaces the current threshold of $465 per week, or $23,660 per year, set in 2004.  This increase in the standard salary level requires an immediate review of … Continue Reading

Is this the End of Independent Contractors in California?

Employers classifying workers in California as independent contractors face grave new concerns based on Assembly Bill 5, signed into law by Governor Newsom on Wednesday, September 18. In its breadth and the risk to which it subjects employers, AB 5 easily eclipses last year’s state Supreme Court decision in Dynamex. AB 5 goes into effect in only slightly more … Continue Reading

The Human Touch of Web Accessibility

Automation is the way of the future . . . or so we thought. Make no mistake, the technology at our fingertips is powerful. As we increasingly rely on it, we lose human interaction and that presents its own risks. Even in the completely digital world of web accessibility, the human touch is essential. Companies should consider utilizing vendors who … Continue Reading

“When Do You Plan On Having A Baby?” And Other Questions Not To Ask

Employers interviewing women of child-bearing age may be tempted to ask about plans for having a baby, but doing so poses risks. While an employer might be concerned about staffing coverage, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against a woman based on her potential or capacity to become pregnant. Taking adverse action against … Continue Reading

Minimizing Risks of BYOD Use For Work

Employees seem permanently attached to their smart phones today, but allowing employees to use their personal devices to make work calls, and send and receive work emails can carry substantial risks. Before allowing employees to use their personal cell phones or other devices for work purposes, make sure you have strong electronic communications and Bring Your Own Device policies in … Continue Reading

Discrimination Based on Hair and Hairstyles: Protected or Knot?

Cornrows or locs may not fit your corporate image, but be careful: state and local legislation prohibiting workplace grooming and appearance policies that adversely impact employees of color have begun popping up around the country. And the new laws have some teeth: employers who discriminate based on hair texture or style could face penalties of up to $250,000 under one … Continue Reading

Deadline Approaches for Submitting New Pay and Hours Data

The EEOC portal is now open and employers who had 100 or more employees in 2017 or 2018 have until September 30, 2019 to submit the earnings and hours data required by the new Component 2 part of the EEO-1 form. As we have previously reported here the EEO-1 form was revised to require employers with 100 or more employees … Continue Reading

Avalanche of New Laws Create Additional Requirements for Illinois Employers

Illinois employers must be cognizant of new Illinois laws including bans on salary history inquiries, restrictions on artificial intelligence interview programs, mandatory sexual harassment prevention training, limitations on non-disclosure and arbitration provisions, increasing minimum wage, implications of the new cannabis law and, within the City of Chicago, predictive scheduling.

Workplace Transparency Act (WTA)

Effective January 1, 2020

The WTA’s purpose … Continue Reading

Federal Judge Rejects New York Law Prohibiting Mandatory Pre-Dispute Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Claims

New York’s ban on pre-dispute agreements requiring employees to use arbitration to resolve sexual harassment claims is invalid, a federal judge in Manhattan has ruled. In a decision from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote held, in Latif v. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, that Section 7515 of … Continue Reading

DOL Issues Guidance on Payroll Rounding, Overtime Calculations, and Certain Paralegals

Employers looking for guidance on payroll rounding practices, classification of certain highly compensated paralegals and calculating overtime where employees receive non-discretionary bonuses will be glad to know the Department of Labor has issued three new Opinion Letters on those subjects. DOL Opinion Letters are issued by the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL and offer insight into the DOL’s … Continue Reading

Smoke Clears For Employers Under New Illinois Marijuana Law

As marijuana legalization laws spread, some states are more focused on employee protections, but Illinois recently adopted a new marijuana law that includes extensive workplace protections for employers. Last month, the Illinois legislature passed and Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. The Cannabis Act goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Beginning on that date, … Continue Reading

PEOs, Staffing Companies: Watch Proposed New Joint Employer Rule

Professional Employer Organizations, franchisors, business advisors, and staffing agencies should take a close look at their contracts if the Department of Labor’s proposed new standard for what constitutes a joint employer becomes final. The proposed rule implements a new four-factor test to evaluate whether a joint employer relationship exists.

The DOL’s proposed rule reflects the new administration’s narrower perspective of … Continue Reading

New York State Approves Broadly Expanded Protections for Employees and Applicants

Note: This blog post has been updated to include all relevant effective dates now that Governor Cuomo has signed the bill into law.

New York State has enacted comprehensive reforms to broaden the scope of its discrimination and harassment laws, including one of the most robust anti-harassment bills in the #MeToo era, amendments to the State’s Equal Pay Act to … Continue Reading

Minimizing Exposure for Employee Termination Claims

Assessing whether to terminate an employee and how best to deliver the news are challenges every employer faces. Whether it’s a low-performing employee who shows no sign of improvement or an employee who egregiously violates a company policy, having policies and procedures in place and following them will help minimize exposure to claims.

In the absence of a collective bargaining … Continue Reading

Employers Beware: Wage Theft Soon to be a Felony in Colorado and Minnesota

Recent legislation in Colorado and Minnesota imposes harsh criminal penalties—including potential felony convictions—for the failure to pay wages.  To limit their exposure under these strict new laws, employers with operations in either state should familiarize themselves with these upcoming changes.

Colorado Increases Criminal Penalties under the Wage Claim Act

On May 16, 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed HB 19-1267, … Continue Reading

Political Speech Inside (and Outside) of the Workplace

The new year has brought a new Congress, an ongoing government shutdown, and rumblings of the first formal campaign announcements for 2020. With more voters participating in last year’s election than ever before, employers should be prepared to handle issues arising from employees’ political speech and conduct.

The 2018 midterms were the first in history with a turnout surpassing 100 … Continue Reading

Arbitration Agreements: Tips for Enforceability

Arbitration agreements can be an effective tool to avoid costly litigation, and, in particular, to prevent class and collective actions. But, will your arbitration agreement withstand scrutiny? Here are some tips on what to do—and not do—when drafting arbitration agreements for new hires.

First, consider whether and for what kinds of employment disputes you might want arbitration. Arbitration has some … Continue Reading

Avoiding Office Holiday Party Headaches

The annual holiday party is a great time of the year to celebrate employees and business successes, but it can be fraught with peril. Wise employers will plan holiday celebrations carefully.

  1. Consider the timing.

Some employees would rather limit their time with work colleagues to workplace hours. Others may stress over childcare, transportation or other commitments, but feel obligated to … Continue Reading

A Tip from the Department of Labor: The 80/20 Rule Has Been Rescinded

Employers are no longer barred from taking the tip credit for tipped employees who spend more than 20% of their time doing non-tipped activities, according to a new U.S. Department of Labor opinion letter doing away with the so-called “80/20 rule.” As restaurant and hospitality employers are aware, the tip credit provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act permits an … Continue Reading

Avoiding Age Discrimination Claims During Succession Planning

As “baby boomers” come of retirement age, employers may find themselves between a rock and a hard place: they can either ask employees about their retirement plans and risk being accused of age discrimination, or they can avoid those conversations and risk being woefully underprepared for the retirements of key employees.

When done right, succession planning affords employers an opportunity … Continue Reading

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