Wal-Mart, Other Retailers Cut Health Care for Part-Time Workers

Joining Target, Home Depot and others, Wal-Mart — the nation’s largest retailer — has announced plans to eliminate health insurance for some of its part-time workers (those who work fewer than 30 hours a week) in order to curb health care expenses. Wal-Mart employs 1.4 million full- and part-time workers, but only about 30,000 of them will be affected.

The move will be implemented come Jan. 1, according to The Associated Press.

“We had to make some tough decisions,” Sally Wellborn, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of benefits, told The Associated Press. Wellborn says the company will use a third-party organization to help part-time workers find insurance alternatives.

“We are trying to balance the needs of [workers] as well as the costs of [workers] as well as the cost to Wal-Mart.”


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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By Refusing to Hear the Issue, SCOTUS Allows Gay Marriage in Five More States

The Supreme Court today refused to consider whether states can ban gay marriages and in so doing upheld rulings by judges in five states that had struck down bans on gay marriages.

As a result, Virginia, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Utah and Indiana will now be obliged to allow gay marriages, bringing the total number of states so aligned to 24 from 19. In addition, another six states are bound by federal appeals court rulings that have struck down their bans and will soon join the five states’ ranks. That leaves 20 states with bans intact.

With appeals on lower courts’ rulings no longer on hold, gay couples in those five states can begin lining up immediately for marriage licenses.

The upheaval in state same-sex marriage laws follows the June 2013 Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, which ruled as unconstitutional that part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage as legal only when between a man and a woman.

To understand how the Windsor decision affects your workplace and your administration of benefits, please get a copy of our DOMA Ruling Compliance Kit today.


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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USCIS Launches myE-Verify for Employees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez has announced the launch of myE-Verify — a new website designed for employees.  myE-Verify is a one-stop shop for employees to create and maintain secure personal accounts and access new features for identity protection, according to USCIS.

“Since its inception, E-Verify has provided employees with valuable online tools and resources regarding the employment eligibility verification process,” said Rodríguez. “myE-Verify signifies a significant step forward for added transparency, features and identity protection.”

myE-Verify gives workers a free and secure way to participate in the E-Verify process by accessing features dedicated for employees, including Self Check and the Employee Rights Toolkit.  For added security, individuals will have their identities verified through Self Check, in order to create a myE-Verify account.

myE-Verify accounts and Self Lock will initially be accessible to individuals in five states — Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Mississippi, Virginia — as well as the District of Columbia.  In future releases, USCIS will roll out myE-Verify across the country with plans for additional features focused on employees and job seekers.

Employers, keep your workforces aware of their rights and obligations under USCIS employment verification standards by posting our E-Verify Right-to-Work Notice Poster in a prominent place.


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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WHD Finally Releases Enforcement Statistics

Once the Obama administration took office in 2009, the Department of Labor (DOL) quietly abandoned the practice of releasing yearly enforcement statistics, but its Wage and Hour Division (WHD) finally righted the ship recently when it released data for fiscal years 2009 to 2013.

The results show a general uptick from the Bush years  in both back wages collected and enforcement hours, reflecting the nearly 300 new WHD agents hired during the administration’s tenure. FY2012 represented the high-water mark with $280 million recovered, though the trend is clearly upward.

VIEW “FISCAL YEAR STATISTICS FOR WHD”

The basis of the WHD’s enforcement activities are the laws and regulations, which are continually amended, contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). To stay current with your requirements as an employer, please refer to Personnel Concepts’ comprehensive 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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DOL Solicitor Confirms Home Care Worker Amendment Delayed

A few days after labor and advocate organizations beseeched the Department of Labor (DOL) not to delay or give up on it, the DOL Solicitor, M. Patricia Smith, announced that the proposed amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to incorporate home care workers won’t be ready by November, as the department’s regulatory agenda had forecast. She now says the DOL “hopes” to implement the rule in 2015.

Under the FLSA, domestic labor is largely unregulated, meaning that many home workers caring for the elderly and disabled are often not paid minimum wages or overtime.

Opposition to the proposed rule arose from several quarters, but most tellingly from state Medicare directors whose agencies must fund most of these workers.

To fully understand the complexities of the FLSA and how they impact your business, please procure a copy of our 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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USCIS Introduces Form I-9 Desktop Widget

Employers can now download and install a USCIS-provided desktop widget for filling out Form I-9, the worker eligibility document that all new hires must complete within three days.

The widget takes you to an online Form I-9, but remember that employers still must complete Section I and employees Section II.

In the end, you need to print out and retain a hard copy.

DOWNLOAD THE I-9 WIDGET

There’s more to understanding and properly completing employment eligibility verification than just using a widget, so please get a copy today of our I-9 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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McCormick & Schmick’s Settles Discrimination Lawsuit for $1.3 Million

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants Inc. and McCormick and Schmick Restaurant Corporation will pay $1.3 million and provide significant equitable relief to settle a pattern-or-practice race discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency has announced.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit in 2008, charging that McCormick & Schmick’s engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination against African-American job applicants by refusing to hire them for front-of-the-house positions at its two Baltimore locations, McCormick & Schmick’s and M&S Grill, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC further alleged that black front-of-house workers hired at the two Baltimore restaurants were denied equal work assignments because of their race. In addition, the EEOC charged that McCormick & Schmick’s advertising for job opportunities on its website had previously contained visual depictions of employees that expressed a preference for non-black workers to the ordinary reader.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland after first attempting to reach a voluntary prelitigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit was settled by the parties prior to any adjudication by the federal court with the assistance of U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey, who served as the mediator.

To stay in complete accord with the nation’s equal employment laws, get a copy of Personnel Concepts’ easy-to-use EEO 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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Alabama Partners with DOL to Fight Worker Misclassification

Officials of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and the Alabama Department of Labor today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to protect the rights of employees by preventing their being misclassified as something other than employees, such as independent contractors. The MOU represents a new effort on the part of the agencies to work together to protect the rights of employees and level the playing field for responsible employers by reducing the practice of misclassification.

The Alabama Department of Labor is the latest state agency to partner with the U.S. Labor Department.

In Fiscal Year 2013, WHD investigations resulted in more than $83,051,159 in back wages for more than 108,050 workers in industries such as janitorial, food, construction, day care, hospitality and garment. WHD regularly finds large concentrations of misclassified workers in low-wage industries.

“Misclassification deprives workers of rightfully-earned wages and undercuts law-abiding businesses,” said David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. “This memorandum of understanding sends a clear message that we are standing together with the state of Alabama to protect workers and responsible employers and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”

To understand the issue better, please procure a copy of our Worker Misclassification Prevention 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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7-11 Operators Busted in Largest ICE Forfeiture Case Ever

Five franchisees and operators of 7-Eleven, Inc. (7-Eleven) stores located throughout Long Island and Virginia entered guilty pleas Monday at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. The defendants pled guilty to committing wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal aliens employed at 7-eleven stores. The guilty pleas stem from an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

When sentenced, Farrukh Baig, 58, of Head of Harbor, New York and Malik Yousaf, 52, of South Setauket, New York face up to 20 years’ imprisonment, and Bushra Baig, 50, of Head of Harbor, New York, Shahnawaz Baig, 63, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Zahid Baig, 53, of Chesapeake, Virginia, face up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The defendants used identities stolen from U.S. citizens, including the deceased and children to conceal their scheme and harbored illegal alien workers at houses own by the defendants.

“These defendants knowingly hired illegal aliens to feed their greed, stole the identities of unsuspecting U.S. citizens, and swindled more than 2.6 million dollars in wages from their enslaved workers,” said James T. Hayes Jr. special agent-in-charge of HSI New York. As a result of this investigation, HSI and its law enforcement partners have recorded the largest worksite enforcement forfeiture in the United States. This case serves notice to employers – that they will be severely punished if they seek to profit on the back of an illegal workforce.”

(more…)


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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Labor Groups Worried Over Possible Delay in Home Care Worker Rule

More than 40 labor and advocacy groups have sent a joint letter to Labor Secretary Tom Perez to voice their concerns that the Department of Labor (DOL) might delay the rollout of its home care workers rule. The proposed rule would extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers.

“The basic rights of two million home care workers — predominantly women and disproportionately women of color — once again hang in the balance, as the administration appears at risk of faltering in the face of opposition,” the letter states.

Part of the reason for the rumored delay is that state Medicaid departments would be on the hook for paying many of these workers, and already the National Association of Medicaid Directors has pressed for a year-and-a-half delay. There is also continuing opposition from Congressional Republicans, with a pivotal national election on the horizon.

To fully understand the complexities of the FLSA and how they impact your business, please procure a copy of our 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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