Labor and Employment Law Update

Welcome to the Labor and Employment Law Update where attorneys from SmithAmundsen blog about management side labor and employment issues. We cover topics including addressing harassment and discrimination in the workplace, developing labor law, navigating through ADA(AA), FMLA and workers’ compensation issues, avoiding wage and hour landmines, key legislative, case law and regulatory changes and much more! Learn more about our firm at www.salawus.com.

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Latest from Labor and Employment Law Update

Contributed by Michael J. Faley, September 29, 2020 On September 17, 2020, the House voted 329-73 to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.  The bill seeks to clarify the law and require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees impacted by a known pregnancy-related limitation.  Like the Americans with Disabilities Act, the bill calls for an interactive process between employers and pregnant workers to develop proper reasonable accommodations. The bill’s report states that such accommodations could possibly include, for example, providing seating, water, closer parking, properly sized uniforms and safety apparel, light duty, and extra break time to use the…
Contributed by Peter Hansen, September 14, 2020 The U.S. Department of Labor announced revised regulations interpreting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in response to a New York federal court decision declaring some FFCRA regulations invalid.  The revised regulations become effective September 16, 2020, and include several changes and clarifications that employers should be aware of: The Health Care Provider Exception.  The DOL limited the “health care provider” exception (which excluded certain employees from FFCRA eligibility) to employees who are “capable of providing health care services,” including “diagnostic services, preventive services, treatment services, or other services that…
Contributed by Suzanne Newcomb, September 10, 2020 The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act or “FFCRA” requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid leave to employees unable to work (or telework) for various COVID-related reasons. Particularly relevant as many schools open either virtually or with combination of in person and virtual instruction is FFCRA’s mandate for paid leave to care for children not in school or daycare due to COVID-19. On August 27, 2020 the DOL added FFCRA FAQs 98-100 clarifying that: FFCRA is not triggered if the child’s school is open for in-person instruction but the…
Contributed by guest author Ryan Jacobson, September 9, 2020 With the prevalence of online consumer reviews and merciless labor organizations, companies and their executives are vulnerable to attack for good reason, bad reason or no reason at all. Managing the expectations of your consumers, and of your workforce, is an important place to start. Executives who identify the problem and work diligently to arrive at viable solutions will gain a head start toward preserving the status quo. Media coverage will no doubt accelerate the harm; it is never too late to challenge the story line with a well-crafted statement…
Contributed by Allison P. Sues, September 3, 2020 On August 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a new opinion letter shedding light on the application of the fluctuating workweek method for paying overtime wages required under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).   Under the FLSA, employers must pay nonexempt employees at least one and half times their regular rate for all hours in excess of 40 worked in an actual workweek.  For employees who work variable hours each week, the employer may use the fluctuating workweek method to compute the amount of overtime pay owed to a…
Contributed by Kelly Haab-Tallitsch and Rebecca Dobbs Bush, August 31, 2020 On August 28, the IRS issued Notice 2020-65 providing brief guidance on the payroll tax deferral announced in a Presidential Memorandum issued on August 8th. The Memorandum directed the Treasury Department to issue guidance for a deferral of the withholding and payment of the employee portion of Social Security taxes to be “made available” to employers.  The IRS Notice, with very limited details, establishes the ability of an employer to defer the payroll tax, but leaves many questions unanswered. Is it Required or Voluntary? Under the Presidential Memorandum…
Contributed by Sara Zorich, August 25, 2020 On August 19, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that due to delays in production of certain Employment Authorization Documents (EAD’s – Form I-766) that employees may use Form I-797, Notice of Action as valid List C #7 document for Form I-9 purposes. To be valid, the Notice of Action must have a notice date on or after December 1, 2019 through and including August 20, 2020. If an employee presents a Form I-797, Notice of Action as a List C document, then the employees MUST also present a List…
Contributed by Sara Zorich, August 18, 2020 In August 2019, SB0075  – the Workplace Transparency Act – was signed in Illinois.  The Act created a number of new requirements for employers including, but not limited to, a new reporting requirement regarding adverse judgments and administrative rulings related to sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination brought under the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or any other federal, state, or local law prohibiting sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination. This new reporting obligation begins on July 1, 2020 for the period from January…
Contributed by Suzanne Newcomb, August 5, 2020 As our readers know, the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid leave to employees who are unable to work (or telework) for a variety of COVID-related reasons (including caring for children not in school due to COVID) though December 31, 2020. On April 6, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule implementing the FFCRA. Shortly thereafter, the State of New York filed suit claiming the regulations unduly restrict employees’ right to paid leave. This week a federal judge in…
Contributed by Steven Jados, July 29, 2020 Layoffs have become a reality for many businesses and employees in recent months, and this unfortunate trend seems likely to continue as we head toward the fall and winter months. The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County highlights additional considerations—beyond simply protecting LGBT employees—that businesses must factor into decisions regarding which employees to layoff, and which to retain. As we previously wrote, the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision essentially held that the anti-discrimination protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extend to LGBTQ employees.…
Contributed by Michael Wong, July 24, 2020 With COVID-19 cases surging in numbers, the legal implications of face mask policies for businesses have taken center stage again. First a quick recap, from my prior article, ADA Implications, I Don’t Want To Wear a Mask…: Businesses can require employees to wear masks at work and customers to wear face masks when coming into businesses; Businesses can refuse entry or ask customers to leave if they refuse to wear a face mask; For both employees and customers that say they cannot wear a face mask due to a disability or…
Contributed by Beverly Alfon, July 22, 2020 In a decision issued yesterday, General Motors LLC, 369 NLRB No. 12 (2020) , the National Labor Relations Board declared that “[it] will no longer stand in the way of employers’ legal obligation to take prompt and appropriate corrective action to avoid a hostile work environment on the basis of protected characteristics.” Prior to yesterday’s decision, employees who engaged in obscene, racist, and sexually harassing speech in the course of activity otherwise protected by the NLRA, were protected by various setting-specific standards that provided leeway to employees to engage in such conduct…
Contributed by Allison P. Sues, July 15, 2020 The Supreme Court declined to review a Ninth Circuit decision that would have answered a question currently splitting the circuits: may an employer consider employees’ salary histories in setting their current pay without violating the Equal Pay Act (EPA)?  As discussed in our previous blog article on January 14, 2019, the EPA prohibits employers from paying wages to employees of one sex less than employees of the other sex for equal work. The EPA holds employers strictly liable for differential pay, regardless of whether the employer had discriminatory intent, unless…
Contributed by John Hayes, July 14, 2020 On July 8, 2020 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. civil rights laws barring discrimination on the job do not apply to most lay teachers at religious elementary schools. The decision extends earlier Supreme Court rulings that shielded religious organizations from employment-discrimination claims by ministers, called the “ministerial exception.” This principle, which courts derived from the First Amendment, bars the government from telling a religious institution whom to choose as its faith leaders. Respecting that principle sometimes requires the courts to stay out of employment disputes when the employer…
Contributed by Suzannah Wilson Overholt, July 2, 2020 After schools and day cares closed in the spring due to the pandemic, employers and parents alike were hopeful that summer would bring a return to normalcy – especially in the form of camp for kids. Alas, that hope has not become a reality as many states have either delayed or prohibited the opening of camps. What are employers and working parents to do? On June 26, the federal Department of Labor issued guidance stating that, under certain circumstances, an employee whose child’s day camp is closed as a result of…
Contributed by Suzannah Wilson Overholt, July 1, 2020 As has come to be expected, the guidance regarding COVID-19 has changed again. This time the CDC narrowed the definition of who constitutes a “close contact” for purposes of tracing people with potential exposure to someone who has COVID-19. While a “close contact” is still defined as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes, what has changed is when the exposure occurred during the ill person’s sickness. The relevant time is now from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two…