Rx for Safety: Workplace Violence Policies in Healthcare Settings

Posted in Employee Handbooks & Policies, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Workplace Safety & OSHA

Hospitals, urgent care clinics, doctors’ offices — these are the places we go when we are sick and want to get better. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are the people who treat us, help us recover, and even save our lives in medical emergencies.

Yet according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare workers are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than workers in all other industries, and this statistic has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this rising concern, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified violence in healthcare settings as a significant occupational risk, and many states have already begun to mandate workplace violence standards for the healthcare industry.

In light of this increasing risk, and the emerging legislative response, hospitals and other healthcare facilities should use this opportunity to review and refresh (or possibly even create) comprehensive workplace violence policies.

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USCIS Fee Increases Are Imminent: The Concurrent Adjustment Clock is Ticking for Indian and Chinese Investors

Posted in Immigration Planning & Compliance

Thanks to a final rule recently announced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), filing fees are about to increase on April 1, 2024, and filers who fail to make haste will end up paying more, or risk experiencing additional processing delays in certain visa categories. Specifically, on January 31, 2024, USCIS published a final rule adjusting its filing fees, and the rule is to take effect April 1, 2024. This comes on the heels of the agency’s December 28, 2023 final rule, which raised the premium processing fee for most employment-based immigration categories to $2,805, effective February 26, 2024. As part of the new rule, USCIS has attached an Asylum Program Fee to most I-129 and I-140 filings, which are amongst the most common employment-based filings, and the fee is part of the agency’s effort to clear the backlog of 3,000,000 pending asylum cases. However, EB-5 investors may be in for the biggest sticker shock of all if they don’t file their cases before April Fool’s Day.

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Non-Compete Clarity: California Employers Must Provide Notice of Non-Competes to Employees By February 14, 2024

Posted in Non-Compete & Trade Secret Litigation

New California laws intended to strengthen the state’s long-standing ban on non-competition agreements are set to create immediate headaches for employers in the state that have, or plan to, impose non-compete or non-solicit clauses on their employees in the Golden State. The new amendments — S.B. 699 and A.B. 1076 — not only codify existing case law banning nearly all non-compete agreements, but go a step further by empowering employees to sue their employer for imposing or trying to enforce a non-compete against them, even if the non-compete was entered in another state where it would have otherwise been enforceable. An employee who wins such a case can also recover reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The law became effective January 1, 2024.

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Out With The Old, In With The… Old? DOL Releases “New” Independent Contractor Rule, Bringing Us (Mostly) Back to Status Quo

Posted in Wage & Hour

Fulfilling a campaign promise for President Joe Biden, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) sent employers New Year’s greetings by opening 2024 with a new final rule on independent contractor classifications, revising the economic realities test that determines those classifications. Is Biden’s campaign promise to create a more stringent, California-like “ABC” worker classification test coming true? Just how much will this new rule change your business?

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New Year, Same Analysis – The Eleventh Circuit Reiterates Proper Standard for Evaluating Employment Discrimination Claims

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention

The McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework used to evaluate employment discrimination claims may not be permanently cast aside, but a recent decision reminds us that it is not the only means through which employees can prove that unlawful discrimination occurred. Specifically, in Tynes v. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently reiterated that the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework, which we have all come to know and recite, is not a set of elements that an employee must prove to establish an employer’s liability and prevail on summary judgment or at trial. Rather, McDonnell Douglas is an “evidentiary framework” that can help answer the question of whether unlawful discrimination was the reason for an employer’s adverse employment action, but is not the only way to prove unlawful discrimination occurred.

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California Employers Must Comply With Workplace Violence Prevention Requirements by July 1, 2024

Posted in Employee Handbooks & Policies

A new California law taking place on workplace violence requires employers to develop and implement written plans and interactive training to prevent and respond to on-the-job threats of violence by July 1, 2024. Among other things, Senate Bill 553 requires adopting an “effective” written workplace violence prevention plan, either as a stand-alone document or as part of a general injury and illness prevention program.

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The Secret Is Out: Updates to New York’s Non-Disclosure Law

Posted in Employee Handbooks & Policies, Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation

New York is closing out 2023 by ushering in sweeping amendments to its law governing non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in certain settlement agreements. The amendments represent the next step in New York’s ongoing effort to regulate the use of NDAs, particularly when confidentiality is not a complainant’s preference. The changes took immediate effect on November 17, 2023, when Governor Hochul signed SB S4516. Here is what employers need to know so they don’t drop the ball when crafting settlement agreements relating to employment claims.

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California, The Gift That Keeps On Giving: An Overview of Recently Enacted Laws That Impact California Employers

Posted in Employee Handbooks & Policies, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention

With 2023 coming to an end, now is the optimal time for employers to update their employee handbooks, policies, and procedures applicable to California workforces for the upcoming year. Here’s a roundup of several recently enacted California laws, with the majority set to take effect January 1, 2024.

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A Modern Approach: USCIS Proposes to Update the H-1B Program

Posted in Immigration Planning & Compliance

USCIS is proposing to modernize the H-1B visa program by streamlining eligibility requirements, improving program efficiency, providing greater benefits and flexibilities for employers and workers, and strengthening integrity measures related to the lottery. Employers are invited to participate in the rulemaking by submitting written data, views, comments, and arguments on all aspects of USCIS’s proposed rule. Employers wishing to provide input need to hurry — the public comment period is scheduled to end on December 22, 2023.

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Jingle All the Way to the SEC: Employers (Even Privately Held) Under Scrutiny for Language in Separation Agreements Impeding SEC Whistleblower Rule 21F-17

Posted in Employee Handbooks & Policies, Employment & Consulting Contracts, Whistleblower & Retaliation Claims

While jingle bells have only just begun to ring, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement bells have been ringing steadily throughout year. In recent months, the SEC announced significant settlements with employers for violations of Rule 21F-17 — the SEC’s whistleblower protection rule — as a result of language in non-disclosure agreements, separation agreements, and policies found to impede employees from reporting possible violations of securities laws to the SEC. With the SEC’s recent momentum, both publicly held and privately held employers should evaluate whether their form employment-related agreements and policies comply with the SEC’s latest interpretations of Rule 21F-17.

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