HR Legalist

HR Legalist

Employment Law Updates
& Best Practices for Employers

Department of Labor Adopts More Employer-Friendly Standard for Unpaid Internships

Posted in Unpaid Interns, Wage & Hour

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) mandates the payment of minimum wage and overtime to employees in most US workplaces.  However, when it comes to unpaid educational internships, the FLSA does not include a helpful definition or standard to determine when an employer is excused from paying wages.  In the absence of guidance from Congress, the task has fallen to the Department of Labor (“DOL”) and the courts to determine when interns must be paid. Continue Reading

Department of Homeland Security Plans to End Employment Eligibility of Spouses of Highly Skilled Foreign Workers

Posted in Immigration

For years, the spouses of highly skilled foreign workers holding visas under the H-1B program weren’t authorized to work in the United States, absent separate approval through a separate program. However, in 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain spouses of H-1B visa holders seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status (commonly referred to as green card holders).  Under the Obama-era rule, intended to encourage H-1B workers to remain in the US during the lengthy green card approval process, these spouses (also known as H-4 dependent spouses) could legally work in the US.  Now, the Trump Administration is considering ending that rule. Continue Reading

The New NLRB Gets to Work: GOP-Majority Board Overturns Browning-Ferris, Changes the Law on Joint Employment and Micro-Unit Organizing

Posted in NLRB

As predicted by HR Legalist earlier this year, the new Republican-majority National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has begun to reverse key labor rulings established during the Obama administration.  On December 14, 2017, the Board’s decision in Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors overturned the 2015 Browning-Ferris ruling regarding joint employment.  The next day, the Board’s decision in PCC Structurals, Inc. overturned the 2011 Specialty Healthcare ruling regarding the appropriate unit for collective bargaining.  Both decisions wipe away the more employee-friendly standards set forth in Browning-Ferris and Specialty Healthcare and restore the law that existed prior to those decisions. Continue Reading

Avoid Doubling FLSA Overtime Damages with Proper Analysis and Documentation

Posted in Fair Labor Standards Act, Overtime, Wage & Hour

Benjamin Franklin once advised that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This axiom is still relevant today, especially in the context of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As originally written, the FLSA mandated that employees prevailing in minimum wage or overtime lawsuits were automatically entitled liquidated damages equal to their unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation, thereby doubling any such award. With the subsequent passage of the Portal-to-Portal Act, Congress gave employers a way to avoid liquidated damages if the employer acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds for believing they were in compliance with the FLSA. Thus, with a little preventative pay classification analysis and documentation, an employer may be able to reduce its potential FLSA liability by half.

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Confidentiality and Sexual Harassment Claims – Will New Laws Limit Settlement Agreement Language?

Posted in General Labor and Employment News and Updates, Harassment

 

In the recent wave of sexual harassment cases against public figures, it has come to light that women were paid large sums of money to keep their harassment allegations private, thus allowing their harassers to continue their inappropriate behavior.  Prominent recent examples of harassers protected by confidentiality clauses include Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and Bill Cosby.  This has caused some commentators to question whether confidentiality provisions should be enforceable in sexual harassment cases.  Legislators in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York have introduced or are discussing the possibility of introducing legislation that would prevent the enforcement of such provisions. Continue Reading

Labor Law Update: Will Employers be Thankful for the NLRB’s new General Counsel?

Posted in General Labor and Employment News and Updates, Labor Relations, NLRB

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) enforces and interprets the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which ensures the rights of employees to engage in collective bargaining and other union-related activities.  During the Obama administration, NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin, Jr. aggressively advocated for labor-friendly positions, and the Democratic-majority Board often agreed.  But this Thanksgiving season, two new board members and a new General Counsel have set the table for changes that could make things a little easier for employers. Continue Reading

How the EEOC is Cracking Down on Equal Pay Act Violations in the Food Service Industry

Posted in Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

With the prevalence of gender discrimination lawsuits in the media and the increasing number of equal pay laws nationwide, employers in the food services industry would be wise to review their hiring and payroll practices as soon as possible to ensure that they are not unlawfully contributing to the gender pay gap, or otherwise retaliating against any employee who reports issues regarding pay disparity.

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New Jersey Update: What Phil Murphy’s Election Could Mean for Employers and Employees

Posted in Discrimination, Employee Leave Management, Government, Medical Marijuana, Minimum Wage, New Jersey Law, Wage & Hour

Yesterday, Democrat Phil Murphy won the race for New Jersey governor, easily defeating Republican Kim Guadagno. Democrats also retained their majorities in both the state Senate and Assembly.  When Murphy is sworn in next January, he will have the opportunity to change laws impacting the workplace.  Here are some areas for employers and employees in the Garden State to keep an eye on:

Raising the Minimum Wage

Murphy has promised to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Last year, Democratic legislators introduced a bill that would have gradually increased New Jersey’s minimum wage from $8.38 to $15 per hour over a four-year period (as summarized by HR Legalist here).  Last summer, Governor Christie vetoed that bill.  With Murphy in the statehouse, the measure could be back on the table, and New Jersey could join California, New York, and the District of Columbia in making the move to $15 per hour. Continue Reading

Employer-Mandated Fingerprinting May be Religious Discrimination

Posted in Civil Rights, Discrimination, Reasonable Accommodation, Religious Discrimination, Retaliation, Terminations, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Workplace Policies

Sincerely believing that fingerprinting is “the mark of the devil” may be enough to sue your employer for religious discrimination and retaliation in federal district court.

On Monday, October 30th, Western District of Pennsylvania Judge Kim R. Gibson issued an Order declining to dismiss such a lawsuit at the initial, pleadings stage of litigation. The Plaintiff, Altoona school bus driver and devout Christian Bonnie F. Kaite, contends that she was unlawfully discharged for refusing to be fingerprinted in connection with a state-mandated background check, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”). Continue Reading