LGBT Workplace Discrimination Rule Takes Effect for Federal Contractors

President Obama’s executive order prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by businesses with federal contracts goes into effect today, effectively extending protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

In marking the occasion, Labor Secretary Tom Perez noted on his blog that the implementation of the order “will mean a more dynamic and inclusive workforce that captures the talents of more of our people…. America is strongest when it fields a full team.”


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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Cities, Counties File Legal Brief to Unblock Obama’s Stalled Immigration Plan

President Obama’s plan to provide legal status and even work permits for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants has been blocked by a federal judge in Texas since February, but yesterday a consortium of 73 cities and counties in 27 states filed a legal brief asking an appeals court to lift the sanction.

The signature gathering was organized by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats. Ironically, even Austin and Houston in the state that initiated the lawsuit that resulted in the sanction — Texas — signed on to unblock the president’s immigration initiative.

The amici curiae brief was filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where the Obama administration earlier filed to unblock the president’s plan. The 5th Circuit has jurisdiction over U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, who issued the injunction.


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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NLRB Bound Volumes of Decisions and Orders Made Available

Since the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Decisions and Orders of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have been published in bound volumes.

Since the NLRB’s headquarters in Washington, DC, will be moving to a smaller location this summer, the agency will retain only a limited number of complete sets of the Board Decisions and Orders.

Pursuant to Subchapter B of the Federal Management Regulation, all bound volumes of the Board Decisions and Orders other than those expected to be retained and moved to the new headquarters building are excess personal property. Furthermore, the estimated cost of continued care and handling of these books will exceed the estimated proceeds from their potential sale. These books were therefore abandoned as of April 2, 2015.

The abandoned books can be claimed on a first-come, first served-basis by anyone, including members of the public and NLRB employees, by sending an email to boardvolumes@nlrb.gov

Bids to purchase full or partial sets of the Decisions and Orders can also be made by sending an email to the same email address. The minimum bid, regardless of the number of books bid for, is $47, which is the cost to the agency of processing a sale.


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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OSHA Updates Workplace Violence Guidelines

In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported more than 23,000 significant injuries due to assault at work. More than 70 percent of these assaults were in healthcare and social service settings.

Health care and social service workers are almost four times as likely to be injured as a result of violence than the average private sector worker. To reduce the risk, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today released an update to its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers.

The publication includes industry best practices and highlights the most effective ways to reduce the risk of violence in various healthcare and social service settings.

“It is unacceptable that the people who dedicate their lives to caring for our loved ones often work in fear of injury or death,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. “This updated booklet will help employers implement effective measures to reduce or eliminate workplace violence hazards.”

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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 Delays New SBC Template Until 2016

Under pressure from business groups and others, the Department of Labor (DOL) has delayed until 2016 implementation of revised standards for the health insurance Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

When it released the proposed changes in late 2014, the DOL originally set implementation for the first open enrollment period occurring after Sept. 1, 2015, but the new date is for any health insurance policy whose coverage begins on or after Jan. 1, 2017.

In announcing the change, the DOL — which developed the new standards jointly with the Departments of Treasury and Health and Human Services — said it would have a new SBC template by early 2016.

Read the DOL’s FAQs on the issue.


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 yet 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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McDonald’s to Raise Wages by 10 Percent at Corporate-Owned Locations

McDonald’s Corp. will become the first fast-food chain to raise its minimum wage this summer when it ups compensation at its corporate-owned locations by at least a dollar more than the local minimum hourly rate.

In all, the planned July 1 hike will average about 10 percent for the 90,000 affected workers, rising to about $9.90 per hour with the average wage expected to top $10 by the end of 2016. Subsidies for some education costs will also be available.

The move will not affect the 14,000 McDonald’s locations — 90 percent of all Golden Arches — owned by franchisees.

The move follows announcements by Wal-Mart, Target and other retailers to raise their wage floor.


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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HHS Helps Fund Ebola Drug’s Development

ebola-virusThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) have awarded approximately $12 million to BioCryst Pharmaceuticals of Durham, N.C., for the advanced development of a promising experimental drug for Ebola, including preparing for large-scale manufacturing of the drug and conducting related studies.

The initial work will be undertaken over the next 18 months with support from ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The contract can be extended through August 2017 for up to a total of approximately $35 million.

BioCryst’s drug, BCX4430, is a small molecule that prevents the Ebola virus from reproducing in the body. In non-human primate studies, the drug was effective against Ebola virus and Marburg virus, another virus in the filovirus family, indicating that BCX4430 may be useful as a broad spectrum antiviral drug.

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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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Same-Sex Spouse Definition for FMLA on Hold

We spoke too soon, as a U.S. district judge in Texas has placed a temporary hold on the new definition of spouse for FMLA purposes, contrary to our earlier report below.

The hold arises from a lawsuit filed by attorneys general in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska, which argues that the new definition violates the Full Faith and Credit Statute in section two of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is still in effect. That statute provides that no state “shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State … respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State.”

The injunction means that companies will have to follow the “place of residence” standard in granting FMLA leave to same-sex couples; in other words, same-sex couples can be granted FMLA joint leave rights only in states that recognize same-sex marriages.

Judge Reed O’Connor, who issued the ruling, has scheduled a hearing for April 13, though the Department of Justice (DOJ) moved quickly to ask him to lift the injunction.

Original report: The Department of Labor (DOL) Final Rule redefining spouse for purposes of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave took effect this past Friday, March 27.

The revised definition recognizes same-sex spouses so long as the marriage took place in a state recognizing such marriages (the “state of celebration” standard), regardless of the state in which the couple currently resides.


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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EBSA Releases Fact Sheet on Its ERISA Enforcement

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), part of the Department of Labor (DOL), in a just-released Fact Sheet says its enforcement activities in fiscal year 2014 restored $599.7 million to employee benefit plans, participants and beneficiaries.

EBSA is tasked with watchdog duties for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

In FY 2014, the agency said it closed 3,928 investigations that led to the indictment of 106 persons for crimes related to employee benefit plans, all part of its enforcement efforts that led to the recovery of nearly $600 million. As part of that sum, EBSA closed more than 213,000 complaint inquiries, reaping $356.2 million in benefits for workers and their families, the Fact Sheet avers.


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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EEOC Task Force to Study Harassment in the Workplace

Jenny R. Yang, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced the membership of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.

At a public meeting on the topic of Workplace Harassment held January, 2015, Yang announced the formation of the Select Task Force, which will examine the problem of workplace harassment in all of its forms and look for ways by which it might be prevented and addressed. The Select Task Force will be co-chaired by EEOC Commissioners Chai R. Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic.

“A lot of progress has been made around the issue of workplace harassment, but we know it remains a persistent problem. Complaints of harassment span all industries, include many of our most vulnerable workers, and are included in 30% of the charges that we receive.” said Yang. “Through creation of this Select Task Force, I hope we will reach more workers and more in the employer community so we can understand the challenges they face and promote the practices we’ve seen work. I really look forward to the results.”

The Select Task Force is comprised of 16 members from around the country, including representatives of academia and social science; legal practitioners on both the plaintiff and defense side; employers and employee advocacy groups; organized labor; and others. Its work will begin formally in the weeks to come. It is anticipated that the Select Task Force will hold a series of meetings, including public meetings, over the course of the next year.


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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