HR Minute

Lactation in the Workplace

Many employers are uncertain how to handle requests by female employees for break periods and special locations for expressing breast milk. The law is clearly trending in favor of policies that permit female employees to express breast milk in the workplace.

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Recent Guidelines in Handling FMLA Claims

Your employee takes twelve weeks of FMLA, but cannot return when her leave expires. Her doctor certifies that she needs an additional 30 days of recuperation, but she claims she can do light-duty work during that 30 day period. What are you required to do?

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Tips on Religious Requirements in the Workplace

We are currently seeing more issues arising in the workplace concerning religion. Below are some points an employer should remember in dealing with religious issues. There is no “one size fits all” solution to the challenges presented in this area. Each case should be analyzed on specific facts.

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Tips for Claims Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the American Disabilities Act

Did you know that a pregnant employee who has complications may be equivalent to an employee with a disability? Recent cases hold that pregnant employees with complications may be entitled to reasonable accommodations. The complications do not need to be severe. They may include such things as temporary Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), incompetent cervix, or high blood pressure. A physician’s restriction may be sufficient to put you on notice.

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Upcoming Employee Benefit Plan December Deadlines

This client alert follows up on our prior alert titled, "Employee Benefit Plan Filing Deadlines." The following are the most common applicable filing deadlines for calendar year plans for December 2016.

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Judge Blocks DOL's Overtime Exemption Rules

NATIONWIDE INJUNCTION STALLS MASSIVE OVERTIME EXPANSION, OFFERS REPRIEVE FOR EMPLOYERS

On November 22, 2016, The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide emergency injunction effectively preventing the United States Department of Labor (DOL) from enforcing its hotly contested overtime rule.

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Can Democrats Provide Some Runway for Employers on Overtime Rules?

DOL New Overtime Exemptions

We have all heard the hue and cry from many employers regarding the
impending change to the “white collar” exemptions to the FLSA’s overtime rules. As a reminder, the current minimum salary threshold is $455/week, or $23,660/year. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) final regulation imposes a new threshold that nearly doubles the minimum salary to $913/week (or $47,476/year) on December 1, 2016. The rule also includes automatic escalators every three years thereafter. Most would concede that the time had come for some upward adjustment to the minimum salary threshold. However, many employers, particularly non-profits and employers in retail, hospitality, and higher education, have complained that the December 1 salary threshold jump is too drastic and will cause hardships—often with unintended negative consequences for some overtime-eligible employees.

Employers have found a sympathetic ear from an unexpected quarter…House Democrats. In July, a group of four House Democrats, led by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), introduced the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (OREA).  http://schrader.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hr_5813_overtime_reform_and_enhancement_act_one_pager.pdf. The OREA legislation proposes an initial salary threshold increase to $692/week (or $35,984/year) on December 1, 2016, with the remainder phased in the increase over a three year period such that the $913/week threshold is effective on December 1, 2019. OREA would also eliminate the automatic escalators, on the novel (for Capital Hill) theory that everyone ought to see how the new overtime rule is actually working in the real world before the DOL simply raises the salary threshold “on autopilot.”

Dozens of organizations have spoken out in support of OREA, including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the National Restaurant Association, and the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Rep. Schrader’s office maintains a list of supporting organizations on its website, http://schrader.house.gov/overtime/.

It remains to be seen whether OREA can gain any traction in Congress. We are in an election cycle (in case you hadn’t noticed). How many other Democrats will be prepared to face the catcall that they are the enemy of hardworking families, in that they oppose overtime pay? Will reason and common sense prevail over rhetoric? Hey, in 2016…ANYTHING is possible!

In the meantime, the clock is ticking toward December 1. Employers should continue to prepare for the DOL regulation to go into effect as proposed. 

U.S. Department of Labor Issues New Overtime Exemption Rules

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division today announced its long-anticipated regulations changing overtime pay rules and exemptions. The final rules dramatically change implementation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and will impact virtually all employers. The new rules are set to take effect on December 1, 2016.

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Upcoming Employee Benefit Plan Deadlines

This law alert follows up on our prior alerts entitled "Employee Benefit Plan Filing Deadlines." The following are the most common applicable filing deadlines (and/or "Heads Up" for coming deadlines) or other important dates for May, June and July 2016 for calendar year plans:

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Housing and Criminal Background Checks

HUD has issued guidance indicating it will review of the use of criminal background checks in determining qualifications for residents in housing. HUD is following the lead of the EEOC concerning criminal convictions and employment. Under the guidance, refusing to rent to someone on the basis that he or she has a prior conviction may be illegal discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.

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