HR Minute

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. Read More ›

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. Read More ›

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. Read More ›

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. Read More ›

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: Read More ›

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. Read More ›

DOL Fiduciary Regulations

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) earlier this month released final regulations which significantly expand the more than 40-year-old definition of who is a plan fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by virtue of providing investment advice for a fee. Thus the final regulations close the door on the spirited, six year debate between the DOL and the investment community over the challenges that the members of the investment community will face if the definition is expanded. However, there was during this period virtually no discussion about the challenges a plan sponsor would face if the definition is expanded. Read More ›

April 30 Deadline for Pre-approved Defined Contribution Plans

This is a follow-up on the IRS’ recent reminder to plan sponsors using pre-approved defined contribution plans (i.e., prototype and volume submitter plans) that they must adopt restated plan documents by the end of this month. Plan sponsors should have already received restated plan documents from their service provider to review and execute by April 30, 2016. However, if a plan sponsor uses these kinds of plans and has not received these documents, it needs to contact its service provider immediately.

Please call Donald S. Kohla at 678.336.7140 or Jan G. Marsh at 678.336.7135 if you need assistance in working with your service provider to review and restate your pre-approved plan by this deadline.

Work-Related Stress and the Americans with Disabilities Act

With increasing frequency employees are claiming disabilities based on work-related stress. Some employees are asking for accommodations such as transfers to new supervisors, working from home, additional leave, and alternative jobs. These requests may require an employer to make a determination of whether the employee has a disability and potential accommodations for the alleged disability. Read More ›

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