Category Archives: Human Resources/ Employer Matters

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It Pays to Pay Attention to Impact When Considering Layoffs

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Unfortunately, many employers from time to time face the need to restructure or downsize their workforce. While the business climate or customer needs are often the driving force in a restructuring or layoff, there are a number of other factors that employers must consider when planning for the actual implementation of such a change. As … Continue reading this entry

HIPAA for HR - Some Good News for Employers

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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that was enacted to ensure protection of individuals’ protected health information (PHI). The Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information (Privacy Rule) issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established detailed national standards for the protection of … Continue reading this entry

“But Our Vendor Handles Everything — How Can We Still Have Fiduciary Liability?”

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As the rules governing retirement and health plans grow more complex, employers often need professional help in order to keep up with the day-to-day management of the employee benefit plans they sponsor. From third-party administrators and financial advisers hired to manage the operations and investments of 401(k) plans to administrative service organizations and pharmacy benefit … Continue reading this entry

You May Have a Failure to Communicate — State Notice Requirements Are Plentiful

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Your company probably makes written offers of employment. After all, it makes good sense — it confirms basics about the job, such as the position being offered and pay rate.  For the applicant, it makes clear the terms of the offer and any conditions, such as passing background screening. But, an offer letter may also … Continue reading this entry

What to Do When OSHA is at Your Door

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You arrive at work bright and early, only to find that someone beat you there — OSHA is waiting to perform an inspection. Now what? Many employers think they have little say in what happens next. Actually, employers have many choices to make, starting as soon as OSHA arrives. The first thing step is simply … Continue reading this entry

Uncle Sam Wants You! (to Provide Employee Compensation Data)

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A new lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) demonstrates how dogged the government can be in trying to obtain and review employers’ compensation data. The lawsuit, filed against Google with the DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, alleges that Google failed to comply with its obligations to provide compensation data to the … Continue reading this entry

Massachusetts Has Legalized Marijuana — Should Your Workplace Policies Go Up in Smoke?

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On November 8, 2016, voters in Massachusetts (along with their counterparts in Maine, California, and Nevada) voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. This means that recreational marijuana use is now legal in eight states (California, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington already have passed similar measures).… Continue reading this entry

2016: They Say all Politics is Local: Now Employment Law is Too

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The end of 2016 is a good time to review and consider a subtle shift in employment law which appears to be gaining momentum. The shift, which may be imperceptible at first, could prove to have lasting impact on employers, especially those who operate in multiple cities and states, and can easily be described as … Continue reading this entry

A Possible New Year’s Hangover for Multistate Employers With California Employees

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Multistate employers with headquarters located outside California may wake up to a rude surprise on January 1, 2017, as a result of a new California Labor Code law affecting their employment agreements with California employees. California Labor Code Section 925 applies to employment contracts with employees who live and work primarily in California, prohibiting such … Continue reading this entry

Cover Letters: The Key to Simplifying ERISA Plan Document Requests

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Sponsors of qualified retirement plans and group health plans may receive tens, if not hundreds, of plan document requests every year. Responding to these requests in accordance with the rules set forth under the Employee Income Retirement Security Act (ERISA) can be fairly straight-forward, especially if the plan sponsor maintains updated copies of all requested … Continue reading this entry

“Accurate” Time Records Must Actually Be Accurate

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Sometimes it is important to get back to basics and refresh our understanding of topics that are already well-known to human resources professionals.  In this season of confusion, particularly regarding the on-again/off-again Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) salary test, it is worthwhile to review the timekeeping records that employers are required to maintain with respect … Continue reading this entry

Think Twice Before Making Payroll Advances to Employees

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It can be difficult to turn down an employee who asks for an advance on their earnings. However, there are lots of reasons for companies to think twice before making payroll advances to employees. One big and obvious reason is the administrative burden. Another is the possibility that the advances will be subject to the … Continue reading this entry

The DOL's New Rx for Federal Contractor Employees

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We have reported time and time again on the national trend of mandating paid sick leave for workers. As we noted last March, in a 2015 Executive Order, President Obama directed the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to issue regulations requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The DOL issued a final rule … Continue reading this entry

SCOTUS Sends Auto Workers Back to Circuit Court for Overtime Regulation “Repairs”

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You may not even know the technical name for workers at the local car dealership who diagnose what is wrong with your vehicle and tell you how it can be repaired. They are called auto service advisors, and whether they are entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has been the … Continue reading this entry

Limit Your Pre-Employment Inquiries to Job-Related Questions

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As most employers know, it is unlawful to ask an employment or promotion candidate questions which reflect bias based on race, color, age, gender, religion, or any other protected status. For example, a candidate cannot be asked about their race, age/date of birth, religion, marital status, pregnancy, children, or plans for a family. Hiring decisions … Continue reading this entry

Don’t Let Zika Bug Your Employees

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If you are reading this from one of the 3,141 counties in the continental United States that has not yet been affected by the Zika virus, do not turn away. There is valuable information here for employers, even if you do not have an office in Miami or are not planning a vacation in Puerto … Continue reading this entry

Got Arbitration Agreements With Class Waivers? The Fight May Not Be Over

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Since the United States Supreme Court upheld the validity of class action waivers in commercial consumer arbitration agreements several years ago, many employers have found arbitration agreements with class action waivers a valuable tool to protect against the tide of class action litigation. In addition to avoiding the risk of a runaway jury award, these … Continue reading this entry

Fired For My Firearm? I’ll Sue!

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As if employers already did not have enough reasons to have to think through termination decisions carefully, here is yet another “trigger” word that should make employers think twice about plans to discipline or fire an employee: guns. Before terminating an employee for bringing one (or more) gun to work, make sure state law does … Continue reading this entry

State Attorneys General on the Attack Against Noncompete Overuse

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Too much of a good thing can be bad – a maxim that some employers have historically ignored by requiring entire workforces, including rank-and-file employees, to submit to post-employment noncompete obligations as a condition of continuing employment. In recent months, however, state attorneys general, specifically in New York and Illinois, have put significant heat on … Continue reading this entry

The Fluctuating Workweek Approach to Compensation – It Could Save You Money!

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With the new, increased salary requirements set to take effect later this year for exempt employees, many employers are asking how they might reduce their overtime obligations. One possible approach is the fluctuating workweek method of compensation. However, prior to implementing such an approach, employers would be wise to seek guidance from counsel because the … Continue reading this entry

How Massachusetts’ New Equal Pay Law Impacts Employers

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On August 1, 2016, Massachusetts became the first state to bar employers from asking job applicants about their salary history before making a formal job offer that includes compensation. Under the new law, employers may not seek information about an applicant’s salary history from the applicant or his or her current or former employer unless … Continue reading this entry

Increased OSHA Penalty Structure Becomes Effective Today

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This past November, Congress passed a budget that included legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. In response, the Department of Labor (DOL) is adjusting penalties for its agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The new civil penalty structure for violations of the Occupational Safety and … Continue reading this entry

Governor Kasich Legalizes Marijuana After Boy Band Member Could Not

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In case you missed it, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill last month making Ohio the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. This change in the law (effective September 8, 2016) comes following a failed Ohio ballot initiative in November 2015 to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, backed by celebrity investors such as … Continue reading this entry

You Cannot Create A Restrictive Covenant Out of Thin Air

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I recently read a lengthy, and I have to admit, well-crafted letter by one employer (who I will call Company A) accusing a former executive (Mr. B) of violating every conceivable restriction relating to recruiting employees from Company A. Mr. B had left Company A and remained in touch with his old colleagues. In fact, … Continue reading this entry