Federal Judge Vacates DOL’s New Companionship Exemption Regulations

Posted in FLSA

We previously wrote a Client Alert about the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new regulations that were poised to eliminate the exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime provisions for certain home-health care workers.. As expected, the new regulations were met with significant pushback from certain home care employers and industry associations, including a federal lawsuit led by the Home Care Association of America challenging the legality of the regulations [Home Care Association of America v. Weil, Case No. 14-cv-0967 (D.D.C.)]. That lawsuit was effectively decided last week when the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued its second opinion, ruling against the DOL and vacating the portions of the new regulations that would have made more than 90 percent of home care workers eligible for overtime pay.

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OSHA Updates Recording and Reporting Requirements for Injuries and Illnesses

Posted in OSHA

Written by Michael G. Murphy, P.E. Esq.

Two changes to the OSHA Standard for Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses went into effect Jan. 1, 2015. First, businesses that were previously exempt from the recording requirements now must record occupational injuries and illnesses shortly after they happen. Second, OSHA has added to the type of incidents that must be reported to OSHA within eight hours to include the hospitalization of one or more employees (it was three employees) and a new requirement to report any amputation or loss of an eye. This GT Alert provides further detail on the changes and includes a list of industries, by NAICS code, that remain partially exempt from the recording requirement.

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California Supreme Court: Employees Entitled to On-Call Pay

Posted in Litigation, State Law

Written by James M. Nelson

In the Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc. decision last week, the California Supreme Court held that employees are entitled to pay not only for on-call time, but also for time spent sleeping during on-call shifts. The author of this GT Alert summarizes the case and notes that unaddressed items, like the impact of the ruling on rest and meal period requirements and daily overtime, will be issues to watch for in the new year.

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NLRB Adopts New Election Rules

Posted in Labor, NLRB, NLRB Elections

Written by Howard L. Mocerf

This week the National Labor Relations Board adopted new union election rules by a 3-2 vote. Characterized by dissenting Board members as “The Mount Everest of Regulations,” the new rules will result in quicker elections and trap unwary employers. The author of this GT Alert outlines the new rules, which will take effect April 14, 2015, and suggests that employers take proactive measures, including contacting experienced management labor counsel as soon as possible if they are served with a petition for an NLRB election.

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NLRB Decision Allows Non-Work Related Use of a Company Email System

Posted in Employee Policies, NLRB

Last week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reversed the Register Guard decision and declared that employees who have access to a company email system now have the right to use that system, on non-working time, to voice their disagreement with their working conditions to co-workers and outsiders. The majority explained that email communications have become the primary means for discussion in the workplace and that a physically disconnected workforce depends on emails for interaction with co-workers, as well as with third parties. As a result of the NLRB’s opinion in Purple Communications, employers should begin reviewing their email policies because outright bans on non-work related use of the company’s email system will be subject to scrutiny by the NLRB.

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Illinois to Welcome New Year with New Employment Laws

Posted in State Law

Written by Howard L. Mocerf

Three new employment laws will take effect for Illinois employers beginning Jan. 1, 2015: the “Ban the Box” law prohibiting employers from including on job applications inquiries into whether an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime; the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) that imposes new requirements on employers for the treatment of pregnant employees and applicants; and amendments to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA) that permit employers to pay employees using payroll debit cards, but with strict requirements on their use. The author of this GT Alert discusses the details of PWFA and IWPCA, and advises Illinois employers to review their employment policies and procedures as necessary.

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Post-Shift Security Screenings Not Compensable Under FLSA

Posted in Compensation, FLSA

Written by Laurent Badoux and Christiana L. Signs

In a much anticipated decision this week, the Supreme Court held that activities that occur before or after a work shift are not compensable unless they are “intrinsic” to employees’ principal work duties. The decision restored a measure of predictability regarding the scope of compensability for pre- and post-shift activities, and came just in time for the holiday season. Employers who have geared up for a busy season by hiring temporary employees now have a certain level of comfort knowing that most pre- and post-shift activities will likely not be considered work time. However, the authors of this GT Alert suggest that employers remain mindful that not all pre- and post-shift activities are necessarily excluded from compensation, and that any potential exclusions should be carefully evaluated with assistance from legal counsel.

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Gaining Whistleblower Protection: Engaging in Activity Protected by Dodd-Frank is Not Enough

Posted in Whistleblower

Written by Michael J. Slocum and Eric B. Sigda.

A district court recently ruled that an employee simply engaging in activity protected by the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provision is insufficient to gain whistleblower protection. The employee must first qualify as a whistleblower within the Act’s definition. The authors of this Greenberg Traurig Alert discuss the decision in Verfuerth v. Orion Energy Systems, Inc., and the scope of Dodd-Frank’s whistleblower protections.

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Obesity: Grounds for Unlawful Discrimination in Europe?

Posted in Disability, Discrimination

Written by Dorothé Smits and Johan Nijmeijer.

According to Eurostat, during the last decade, the population that is overweight in the European Union (EU) Member States has increased significantly, which has resulted in more than half of the EU population being overweight or obese. Last year the European Court of Justice (ECJ) was asked in a preliminary ruling in a Danish case – for the first time – which provisions of EU law, if any, apply to discrimination based on obesity. The Advocate General has recently delivered his opinion and the ECJ is now expected to render a ruling any time soon. In this Alert, the authors highlight the most relevant aspects of the Danish case and related EU case-law as it currently stands. It is likely that some of the issues will seem surprising to readers in the United States, inasmuch as, since the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the courts have already begun to rule that severe or morbid obesity is a disability regardless of the cause.

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Massachusetts Voters Approve Ballot Question Mandating Paid Sick Time

Posted in Employee Policies, State Law

On Nov. 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question that entitles employees to earn up to 40 hours of sick time each year.

Employees who work for Massachusetts employers having 11 or more employees could earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. Employees working for smaller employers could earn up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per year.

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