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Contributed by Allison P. Sues, July 29, 2021 On July 23, 2021, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule to increase the minimum wage for employees of covered federal contractors and subcontractors to $15.00 per hour. This rule follows President Biden’s Executive Order calling for an increase to the minimum wage for federal contractors. The rule suggests that the minimum wage increase go into effect January 30, 2022 and increase annually beginning in 2023 based on inflation.  The Proposed Rule is not final and may be revised. The DOL is accepting comments until August 21, 2021…
Contributed by Michael Wong, July 28, 2021 Vector attention sign, please wear face mask, in flat style Just when we were starting to let loose and enjoy the summer without masks, as a result of rising number of COVID-19 cases and the Delta variant, the CDC revised their guidance for fully vaccinated individuals on July 27, 2021 with the following changes: Fully vaccinated individuals are recommended to wear masks when indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission. Fully vaccinated individuals who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested 3-5 days after…
Contributed by Michael Hughes, July 22, 2021 . The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled 3-1 on July 21, 2021 that labor unions may continue to use large, inflatable balloons–usually in the shape of an ugly rat–to aid in publicity of labor disputes, whether connected with traditional picketing activity or without.  The inflatable rat balloon used by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 has been nicknamed “Scabby.”  Scabby was the subject of the NLRB’s ruling.  In that case, Local 150 erected Scabby and banners at the entrance to the parking lot at an RV tradeshow.  The rat…
Contributed By Allison P. Sues, July 16, 2021 Employment law books and a gavel on desk in the library. On June 15, 2021, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance on “Protections Against Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.”  This resource reviews the impact of the Supreme Court’s Bostock v. Clayton County case and provides the EEOC’s position on what constitutes unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The EEOC’s answers to key questions on this issue are summarized below.  Does Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination extend to treatment based on…
Contributed By Beverly Alfon, July 1, 2021 On June 25, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed into law additional amendments to the IL Equal Pay Act of 2003.  March 2021 Amendments (Recap) As outlined in our March 23, 2021 blog article, Will Employers Have to Give 1% of their Total Gross Profits to the State of Illinois? Gov. Pritzker Signs into Law Unprecedented Changes to IL Equal Pay and Corporate Laws, the March amendments to the Act require businesses with 100 or more employees to obtain certification of compliance with the Equal Pay Act from the IL Department of Labor…
Contributed By Michael Wong and Sara Zorich, June 25, 2021 It’s that time of year (again) for increases in minimum wage. However, this year is slightly different! In spite of the Cook County written notices that some employers may have received, the Cook County Minimum Wage for non-tipped employees is NOT increasing, as the unemployment rate for Cook County during the prior year was greater than 8.5%. However, the Cook County Minimum wage for tipped employees will increase on July 1st  from $6.00 to $6.60 to match the increase under Illinois law. For City of Chicago employers, the minimum wage…
Contributed By Sara Zorich, June 23, 2021 On June 21, 2021, the US Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it has proposed new rulemaking, and is seeking input on significant limits to an employer’s ability to utilize the tip credit.  Under the current law, the Fair Labor Standards Act and many state laws allow employers to pay employees in tipped positions a lower cash wage, and take a credit against the tips earned by the employee to make up the balance for the applicable minimum wage.  The proposed changes impact when the tip credit is applicable. The proposed…
Contributed By John R. Hayes, June 18, 2021 On June 10, 2021 OSHA issued its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for the health care industry, along with general guidance for all other employers, which we already touched on in a previous post. However, there remains a lot to unpack, as there are many unanswered questions, especially for the health care field.  Below we dig a bit deeper into the ETS and its practical implications for health care providers. Are you covered? The first question—and it is not as clear cut as it may seem—is whether the ETS applies to…
Contributed By: Jeff Risch, June 16, 2021 Employers of all sizes and industries, operating anywhere in the U.S., need to conduct HR Audits regularly. In 2021 and beyond, it is critical to carefully evaluate all aspects of how to properly and lawfully administer and manage personnel issues. Workplace laws, rules and regulations are constantly changing – what was lawful yesterday may be unlawful tomorrow. Annual HR Audits conducted by those with intimate knowledge and understanding of the latest legal developments, including enforcement, must be part of any employer’s regular processes. SmithAmundsen LLC’s Labor & Employment Law Practice Group, comprised of attorneys…
Contributed By: John R. Hayes, June 14, 2021 A federal judge in Texas on June 12, 2021 dismissed a lawsuit brought by Texas health care workers challenging their hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The scathing opinion by U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes left no doubt that he believed the claims of the 117 plaintiffs were without merit. The lawsuit was brought by employees of Houston Methodist Hospital, who had refused the vaccine, after the hospital in April announced a policy requiring  vaccination of all employees.  In early June, over 170 employees of the hospital were suspended for two weeks…
Contributed By Jeffrey Glass, June 11, 2021 employment law books and a gavel on desk in the library. concept of legal education. As reported in prior blogs, the Illinois legislature for several months has been considering amendments to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act that apply to non-compete and non-solicitation restrictions. SmithAmundsen attorneys worked closely with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to protect the interests of employers as much as possible during the legislative process.  The legislature has now passed SB672. It is generally viewed as a compromise between employer and employee interest groups. It is not a ban…
Contributed By Matthew Horn, June 10, 2021 On June 10th, OSHA issued its long-promised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).  Surprisingly, the ETS relates only to the healthcare industry, but updated guidance has been issued for all industries, as outlined below: Non-Healthcare Industries: For non-healthcare industries, including manufacturing and construction, OSHA only intends to issue guidance relating to COVID-19, including updated guidance on complying with the CDC’s latest recommendations to allow fully vaccinated workers to not wear masks or social distance in most situations. Notably, the ETS exempts fully vaccinated workers from masking, distancing and barrier requirements when in well-defined…
Contributed By Steven Jados, May 28, 2021 Medicine doctor and vaccine dose On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance regarding employers offering incentives for employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The updated guidance also clarifies issues related to whether employers can mandate that employees be vaccinated before entering the workplace. Interestingly, the EEOC’s guidance on vaccine incentives is broken into two parts: (1) incentives for employees voluntarily providing proof that they received a vaccination on their own, and (2) incentives for employees who voluntarily receive a vaccination administered by the employer or its…
Contributed By Allison P. Sues, May 26, 2021 With the upcoming Memorial Day holiday offering an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifice made by military families, it seemed a fitting time to revisit the legal nuances of providing preference in hiring veterans with disabilities. Veterans report high instances of service-connected disabilities, including blindness, deafness, missing limbs, major depressive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Some laws require employers to provide preference to disabled veterans. Some employers voluntarily create affirmative action programs for veterans with disabilities. Here is what employers should know.  Can an employer give preference in hiring to…
Contributed By Michael Wong, May 17, 2021 Blue medical face masks isolated on white ***On May 17, 2021, OSHA updated its web page regarding “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” to state the following: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance relating to recommended precautions for people who are fully vaccinated, which is applicable to activities outside of healthcare and a few other environments. OSHA is reviewing the recent CDC guidance and will update our materials on this website accordingly. Until those updates are…
Contributed By Michael Wong, May 14, 2021 Blue medical face masks isolated on white On May 13, 2021, the CDC issued new guidance stating that those who are fully vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or social distancing. Following the CDC’s announcement, President Biden lifted the mask mandate that was required by staff and visitors of the White House.   While the CDC has issued this guidance, a patchwork of state and local policies or rules are popping up making clear that we are not going to be mask free quite yet. More importantly, the CDC’s announcement contained…