Amazon Workers Won’t Be Paid for Standing in Security Lines

A unanimous Supreme Court decision issued today declared that Amazon warehouse workers who are forced to stand in line for security checks upon leaving their worksite are no longer on the clock, and thus the time spent in line is not compensable.

Amazon requires those who work in its warehouses to go through security checks on the way out to ensure they haven’t pilfered any products.

Warehouse workers eventually banded together and filed a lawsuit against Integrity Staffing Solutions, the company that provides both the personnel and warehouse space for Amazon, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and its pay and overtime standards. The group sought double damages, back pay and overtime as compensation.

In April 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that “security clearances are necessary to employees’ primary work as warehouse employees,” meaning the employees were eligible for compensation while standing in line.

Upon review, the Supreme Court disagreed, ruling: “Security screenings are indistinguishable from many other tasks that have been found non-compensable under the FLSA, such as waiting to punch in and out on the time clock, walking from the parking lot to the work place, waiting to pick up a paycheck, or waiting to pick up protective gear before donning it for a work shift.”


If you own or operate a small to medium-sized business, managing all your employees plus meeting federal labor laws and regulations can be daunting, especially with new rules being issued all the time. To help you understand your rights and responsibilities in every facet of running a business, please order a copy of Personnel Concepts’ All-On-One HR Compliance Program for Small Businesses.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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DOL’s Perez: We Have 1,000 Wage and Hour Cops on the Beat

Speaking Dec. 4 at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., Secretary Tom Perez told attendees that the Department of Labor (DOL) now has 1,000 Wage and Hour (WHD) investigators aggressively enforcing the nation’s pay, overtime and worker classification laws. That figure is up from the 730 investigators the Obama administration inherited.

The DOL is “back in the enforcement business, putting more cops on the beat and giving them more resources to protect working families who bear the greatest burden when labor standards are violated,” Perez said.

The DOL secretary, citing a study by the Eastern Research Group, said there are hundreds of thousands of workers in California and New York, largely in the restaurant and hotel industries, who are victims of minimum wage violations.

“That translates into a total of between $20 [million] and $29 million in lost weekly income for those workers, which represents 40 percent or more of their total pay,” Perez said. “Imagine that. Forty cents out of every dollar you earned doesn’t show up in your paycheck but in your employer’s pocket.”


To better understand wage and overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), order a copy of Personnel Concepts’ FLSA Compliance Program.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Workplace Injury, Illness Rate Declines, But OSHA Ups Reporting Requirements

David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, today issued the following statement on the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2013 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses:

“Today we learned that, in 2013, approximately three million private sector workers in America experienced a serious injury or illness on the job. In this extraordinarily high number, it is easy to focus on the headline and miss the trend line. We are encouraged that the rates continue to decline over the past few years, even during this period of healthy economic growth when we would expect the rate of injuries to rise. The decrease in the injury rate is a product of tireless work by those employers, unions, worker advocates and occupational safety and health professionals all coupled with the efforts  of federal and state government organizations that make worker safety and health a high priority each and every day.

“But we cannot ignore those three million workers. The severity of their injuries and illnesses varies widely; some are amputees, some suffer back injuries, while others have to struggle for each breath. Work injuries can instantly pull the rug out from a family striving for a good middle-class life. This is why the work of the Labor Department is so vital, and why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with our partners in both the public and private sector, will maintain our commitment to ensuring that everyone can work in a safe, healthy place.”


Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA reporting requirements will change. Employers will be responsible for reporting all fatal work injuries within 8 hours, and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. The agency has also updated the list of industries required to keep injury and illness records. Fortunately, we at Personnel Concepts have created the perfect compliance companion for these new reporting requirements. Get a copy of our OSHA Recordkeeping and Reporting Compliance Kit, which is brand new and up to date with all the new requirements.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Senate Confirms Two to the EEOC

Still under Democratic control for a while longer, the U.S. Senate has confirmed a new Commissioner for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), along with a General Counsel.

Charlotte Burrows, currently Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice (DOJ), will serve as a Commissioner. David Lopez was reconfirmed as General Counsel, a position he has held since 2010.


If you own or operate a small to medium-sized business, managing all your employees plus meeting federal labor laws and regulations can be daunting, especially with new rules being issued all the time. To help you understand your rights and responsibilities in every facet of running a business, please order a copy of Personnel Concepts’ All-On-One HR Compliance Program for Small Businesses.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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DOL Announces Rule to Protect Against Sexual Orientation, Gender ID Discrimination

A new rule prohibiting discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal contracting workforce is being announced today by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The rule implements Executive Order 13672, which was signed by President Obama on July 21.

“Americans believe in fairness and opportunity. No one should live in fear of being fired or passed over or discriminated against at work simply because of who they are or who they love,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Laws prohibiting workplace discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity are long overdue, and we’re taking a big step forward today to fix that.”

EO 13672 tasked the department with updating the rules implementing EO 11246 to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the classes it protects. While 18 states, the District of Columbia and many businesses, large and small, already offer workplace protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, July’s executive order was the first federal action to ensure LGBT workplace equality in the private sector.

“We are building on the work of presidents and members of Congress from both parties who have expanded opportunities for America’s workers,” said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which will enforce the new requirements. “This rule will extend protections to millions of workers who are employed by or seek jobs with federal contractors and subcontractors, ensuring that sexual orientation and gender identity are never used as justification for workplace discrimination by those that profit from taxpayer dollars.”

The final rule will become effective 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register and will apply to federal contracts entered into or modified on or after that date. More information is available at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/LGBT/.


If you own or operate a small to medium-sized business, managing all your employees plus meeting federal labor laws and regulations can be daunting, especially with new rules being issued all the time. To help you understand your rights and responsibilities in every facet of running a business, please order a copy of Personnel Concepts’ All-On-One HR Compliance Program for Small Businesses.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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35 U.S. Hospitals Designated as Ebola Treatment Centers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state health officials have now identified and designated 35 hospitals as Ebola treatment centers, with more expected in the coming weeks.

Hospitals with Ebola treatment centers have been designated by state health officials to serve as treatment facilities for Ebola patients based on a collaborative decision with local health authorities and the hospital administration.

Ebola treatment centers are staffed, equipped and have been assessed to have current capabilities, training and resources to provide the complex treatment necessary to care for a person with Ebola while minimizing risk to health care workers.

“We continue our efforts to strengthen domestic preparedness and hospital readiness. I am pleased to announce that 35 hospitals have been designated by state health officials as Ebola treatment centers that are prepared, trained, and ready to provide care for a patient with Ebola,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.


Employers, keep your workforces alerted to what Ebola is and how to avoid it by conspicuously posting our Ebola Information Poster.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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HHS Report Touts Benefits of Obamacare

A report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows an estimated 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and approximately $12 billion in health care costs were saved as a result of a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.

According to the report, progress toward a safer health care system occurred during a period of concerted attention by hospitals throughout the country to reduce adverse events. The efforts were due in part to provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) such as Medicare payment incentives to improve the quality of care and the HHS Partnership for Patients initiative.  Preliminary estimates show that in total, hospital patients experienced 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.  This translates to a 17 percent decline in hospital-acquired conditions over the three-year period.

“Today’s results are welcome news for patients and their families,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “These data represent significant progress in improving the quality of care that patients receive while spending our health care dollars more wisely.  HHS will work with partners across the country to continue to build on this progress.”

According to HHS, today’s data represent “demonstrable progress over a three-year period to improve patient safety in the hospital setting, with the most significant gains occurring in 2012 and 2013. According to preliminary estimates, in 2013 alone, almost 35,000 fewer patients died in hospitals, and approximately 800,000 fewer incidents of harm occurred, saving approximately $8 billion.”

Hospital-acquired conditions include adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line associated bloodstream infections, pressure ulcers, and surgical site infections, among others.  HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) analyzed the incidence of a number of avoidable hospital-acquired conditions compared to 2010 rates and used as a baseline estimate of deaths and excess health care costs that were developed when the Partnership for Patients was launched.


For the full story on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) affects your business, no matter how large or small, please obtain a copy of our comprehensive and easy-to-follow Affordable Care Act Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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DOL ‘Interpretations’ Go Before High Court Today

The Department of Labor (DOL) is the subject of a Supreme Court review today in the case of Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association (Thomas Perez is DOL Secretary), with arguments focusing on whether a federal agency can issue “interpretations” of existing laws and regulations without conducting a public commentary period.

The Mortgage Bankers Association brought suit when the DOL reinterpreted a Bush-era ruling that mortgage loan officers are exempt from overtime, saying that they are indeed hourly workers subject to overtime pay rules. The lawsuit maintains that, under federal law, the agency should’ve opened a public commentary period before issuing the interpretation. The DOL maintains that the public input requirement applies only to new regulations.

The DOL won the initial lawsuit, but the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, landing the whole issue before the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court sides with the bankers association, it could make it more difficult for federal agencies to “interpret” existing rules and regulations.


To better understand overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), order a copy of Personnel Concepts’ FLSA Compliance Program.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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HealthCare.Gov Signs Up 462,125 in First Week

In 2014, just 106,000 people enrolled in Obamacare in the first month, but this year in the first week of open enrollment, HealthCare.gov and its Spanish-language counterpart CiudadodeSalud.gov signed up 462,125 people, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) blog. (Unofficially, by the end of week two, the number had risen to about 1.04 million federal sign-ups.)

The DOL-issued first-week figure covers Nov. 15 to Nov. 21. The federal site now enrolls people from 36 states after Oregon and Nevada shut down their state exchanges due to various difficulties. The total does not include results from the 14 states still operating their own marketplaces.

“Today, we are releasing the first weekly snapshot of Federal Marketplace Open Enrollment activity; we had a solid start, but we have a lot of work to do every day between now and February 15,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said. “People are ready to get covered, and visitors to HealthCare.gov are seeing more competition, affordable options and an improved consumer experience.”

A chart on the blog post indicates that 48 percent of the enrollees were new consumers, while 52 percent were consumers renewing their policies.


For the full story on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) affects your business, no matter how large or small, please obtain a copy of our comprehensive but easy-to-follow Affordable Care Act Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Federal Agencies Release Fall Regulatory Plans

Just as Congress was leaving town for the Thanksgiving holiday, various federal agencies released their mandated Fall 2014 Regulatory Plans and Unified Agendas on Friday, Nov. 21 — beating winter by a month. The reports are issued twice a year.

The most ambitious agency, the Department of Labor (DOL), plans to issue 23 final rules and 38 proposed rules through the end of 2015. The quickest on the agenda are a rewriting of overtime rules to make fewer employees exempt and also a redefinition of “spouse” for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) purposes. These are slated for the first quarter of calendar 2015.

By next August, the DOL says it will have a revamped injury and illness reporting rule released to “enable a more efficient and timely collection of data.” In the same time-frame, the agency says it will issue various final rules covering the 22 separate whistleblower statutes it oversees.

Even further into the future, in 2016 and beyond, the DOL is eyeing a revision of the Hazard Communication Standard to incorporate the sixth edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (generally referred to as GHS) and also hopes to implement a mandatory Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) for American businesses.

Perhaps the most immediate rule to come out of D.C. will be the National Labor Relations Board’s “quickie election rule” for union organization. Long in the works, the rule finds itself in an urgent mode since the Republicans take over the Senate in 2015 and Democratic board member Nancy Schiffer’s term expires this Dec. 16.


If you own or operate a small to medium-sized business, managing all your employees plus meeting federal labor laws and regulations can be daunting, especially with new rules being issued all the time. To help you understand your rights and responsibilities in every facet of running a business, please order a copy of Personnel Concepts’ All-On-One HR Compliance Program for Small Businesses.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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