When Conflicting Obligations Make You Sick: Complying With Sick Leave Laws

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While President Obama’s recent push for a federal paid sick leave mandate for private-sector employees is unlikely to gain traction in the new Congress, employers still begin 2015 facing an intricate web of state and local sick leave laws that are apt to cause employers headaches and confusion.

As we have noted previously, sick leave laws have become more prevalent in recent months at both the state and local level. While one state, Wisconsin, has actually passed a state law prohibiting local entities such as counties and cities from enacting their own paid sick leave laws, this area has been otherwise largely dominated by local government involvement; and an employer with multiple locations within one state may have the burden of complying with varying sick leave requirements. For example, eight different municipalities in the state of New Jersey alone have passed their own sick leave laws. If the employer has operations in both Trenton and Jersey City, the employer must comply with the provisions of both ordinances, even though the minimum number of employees for applicability, minimum required hours of paid leave, notice requirements, recordkeeping requirements, when an employer may require documentation, and penalties for noncompliance may all differ. Trenton, for example, requires that employers with 10 or more full-time employees provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year, and that employers with fewer than 10 employees provide up to 24 hours of such paid leave. Jersey City, on the other hand, requires that employers with fewer than 10 private sector employees must provide up to five days of sick leave per year, but that time may be unpaid. Continue reading this entry

Breaking Up Is Still So Hard to Do: DOL Clarifies H-1B Bona Fide Termination Rule

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Employers must navigate through a maze of complex regulations when seeking H-1B temporary authorization to hire foreign nationals in specialty occupations. Yet, as hard as it is to hire H-1B employees, it can be even more difficult and costly to fire those employees unless special procedures are followed. For years the United States Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has aggressively investigated and sought to punish employers who are unaware that their normal termination procedures are insufficient in H-1B cases. However, a recent agency decision taps the brakes on employer liability arising from imperfect H-1B terminations in some circumstances. Continue reading this entry

NLRB Gives Unions Another Prize: Non-Tenure-Eligible Faculty at Private Religious Colleges and Universities

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Private colleges and universities are the latest to feel the effects of the more union-friendly National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In a recent ruling, the Board concluded in unprecedented fashion that it has jurisdiction under the National Labor Relations Act over non-tenure-eligible faculty at private religious institutions who are not performing a specific religious function, while also establishing a more rigorous standard for the faculty manager exclusion. Continue reading this entry

As the Late, Great Joan Rivers Would Say, “Can We Talk” (About Our Salaries)? The Answer May Soon Be “Yes”

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Employees of federal contractors, who previously have dwelled silently – and often unknowingly – in the gender and race pay chasm, may soon have a new tool to help them build a bridge across the gap.

On September 15, 2014, the United States Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced a proposed rule that prohibits federal contractors from discharging or otherwise discriminating against employees or job applicants “because such employee or job applicant has inquired about, discussed, or disclosed the compensation of the employee or applicant or another employee or applicant.” The DOL’s notice sets forth a comprehensive new regulation, drafted to implement President Obama’s Executive Order 13665 entitled, “Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information.” Among other concerns that the regulation seeks to address, the announcement notes that, despite nearly five decades of federal laws aimed at preventing gender-based compensation discrimination, women still earn, by some calculations, 23 cents less than men do dollar for dollar (and that disparity is more pronounced for women of color). The new regulation, if implemented, will allow women (and anyone else who wants to know) to inquire about what their counterparts are paid. Hopefully, this knowledge will allow underpaid employees to fight for equal pay — and to do so without fear of discrimination from their employer. Continue reading this entry

Employing Veterans May Help Avoid the ACA’s Employer Mandate

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The new Republican Congress began its session with an attempt to narrow the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate by exempting certain veterans and their families from counting toward the number of employees at small businesses. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a final rule, effective January 30, 2015, which will expand availability of insurance through U.S. military health care provider Tricare — the very thing that will trigger the proposed ACA exemption. Continue reading this entry