EEOC Files Third Transgender Lawsuit

Deluxe Financial Services Corp., a Shoreview, Minn.-based check-printing and financial services corporation, violated federal law by subjecting a transgender employee to sex discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit.

This is the third lawsuit filed recently by the EEOC alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity/transitioning/transgender status. In April, 2015, a Florida eye clinic paid $150,000 to settle an EEOC lawsuit filed in September 2014, seeking relief for an employee who had been transitioning to female; also in September 2014, the EEOC filed suit seeking relief for an employee of a Detroit area funeral home fired for transitioning from male to female.

According to the EEOC’s suit against Deluxe Financial Services, Britney Austin had performed her duties satisfactorily in the company’s Phoenix offices throughout a lengthy tenure there. However, after she began to present at work as a woman and informed her supervisors that she was transgender, Deluxe refused to let her use the women’s restroom. Supervisors and coworkers subjected Austin to a hostile work environment, including hurtful epithets and intentionally using the wrong gender pronouns to refer to her.

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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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OSHA Issues Guideline on Transgender Bathrooms

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published an OSHA Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers. The publication provides guidance to employers on best practices regarding restroom access for transgender workers.

The guide was developed at the request of the National Center for Transgender Equality, an OSHA Alliance partner that works collaboratively with the agency to develop products and materials to protect the safety and health of transgender workers.

OSHA’s Sanitation standard requires that all employers under its jurisdiction provide employees with sanitary and available toilet facilities, so that employees will not suffer the adverse health effects that can result if toilets are not available when employees need them.

Many companies have implemented written policies to ensure that all employees – including transgender employees – have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities. The core belief underlying these policies is that all employees should be permitted to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identify. For example, a person who identifies as a man should be permitted to use men’s restrooms, and a person who identifies as a woman should be permitted to use women’s restrooms.

The publication includes a description of best practices and also makes employers aware of federal, state and local laws that reaffirm the core principle of providing employees with access to restroom facilities based on gender identification.


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 to Convene Its Advisory Committee for Input

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH), June 17-18, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The Temporary Workers Work Group will meet June 17 and the full committee will meet June 18.

The tentative agenda for the committee meeting includes an update from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels on OSHA initiatives such as the severe injury reporting rule; remarks from Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health John Howard; and a report from the NACOSH Temporary Workers Work Group on developing best practice language including protecting temporary workers in injury and illness protection programs.

The Temporary Workers Work Group will continue discussions of workplace safety and health issues related to temporary workers, including workplace protections and joint responsibility of host employers and staffing agencies for temporary workers at the June 17 work group meeting. The work group will develop and present recommendations for the full committee’s consideration.

NACOSH advises, consults with and makes recommendations to the secretaries of labor and health and human services on matters relating to the Occupational Safety and Health Act including regulatory, research, compliance assistance and enforcement issues.


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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1.5 Million Fail to Pay Premiums or Drop Obamacare

Since recording 11.7 million health care sign-ups by the end of the open enrollment period in February, Obamacare has witnessed a plunge of 1.5 million who failed to pay their premiums or simply dropped off, the administration announced this week.

Coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this year thus totals 10.5 million, up from 6.3 million in 2014. Some 85 percent of all enrollees receive federal subsidies to help pay their premiums.

Despite the plunge, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced, “The health insurance marketplaces are working.”

The Supreme Court, however, will weigh in this month on whether premium subsidies offered at the federal level are legal under the wording of the ACA, potentially stripping at least 7.5 million policyholders of their support system.


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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Wal-Mart to Raise Wage Floor for Managers Following Employee Hourly Hike

After previously announcing it would raise the minimum wage paid its employees to at least $10 an hour, Wal-Mart is now embarking on a program to raise managers’ hourly rates depending on their department, starting with their Aug. 13 paychecks.

Managers in more service-oriented departments such as auto care and electronics will receive at least $13 an hour; managers in less service-oriented areas such as clothing and luggage will get at least $10.90 an hour; and those in deli and wireless services will get at least $9.90 an hour.

New hires will start at $9 an hour, but can move to $10 after completing a six-month training program. By February 2016, the minimum wage will rise to $10 an hour.


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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SCOTUS Greenlights Lawsuit over Head Scarf Discrimination

Abercrombie & Fitch Co., the nationwide retailer, will no doubt have to revisit its hiring policies following a Supreme Court ruling today that a Muslim job applicant can sue the company after she was rejected for wearing a head scarf, which the company said violated its no-caps rule.

The ruling came courtesy of a decisive 8-to-1 majority, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing the opinion and Justice Clarence Thomas providing the lone dissenting vote.

Samantha Elauf initially brought her case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after she was turned down for a sales job at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa, Okla. The EEOC sued Abercrombie on her behalf.

In its ruling today, the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that had thrown out an earlier judgment in Ms. Elauf’s favor, arguing that she never explicitly asked Abercrombie to accommodate her religious practice and thus there was no discrimination. Justice Scalia, however, countered that federal law requires “favored treatment” for faith-based observances.

Longstanding federal civil rights laws require employers to “reasonably accommodate” workers’ and applicants’ religious practices unless doing so would prove too big a burden for the company.


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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Possible Workaround if SCOTUS Nixes Obamacare Subsidies

June is upon us, meaning we can expect the issuance of decisions on the more controversial issues the Supreme Court has weighed this year, including whether subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are available only in states with their own exchanges or also on the federal Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov.

The wording in the 1,300-page document would seem to indicate that premium subsidies are available only in states that establish their own exchanges, or health insurance marketplaces, but proponents of the law argue that the intent was otherwise and the wording merely a mistake.

Should a majority of the nine justices strike down the provision, however, a quick remedy is at hand, according to Scott Gottlieb, M.D., of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who appeared on CNBC this morning to discuss the issue.

Gottlieb said the Obama administration could merely issue a regulation redefining state insurance exchanges, allowing now-non-compliant states to put up a shell website that defaults to HealthCare.gov.

“If the administration does that, which I think they will, that’s going to put a lot of pressure on red state governors to go along, because it’s going to be very easy to for them to now comply to get the subsidies,” he told his CNBC hosts. He also pegged the administration’s chances of winning in court at 70 percent.


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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DOJ Won’t Appeal Immigration Plan Injunction to Supreme Court

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has vowed to stay the course in fighting a federal judge’s injunction against President Obama’s November 2014 immigration executive orders, which would award up to 5 million undocumented immigrants a safe haven from deportation and, for many of them, legal work permits, if implemented.

DOJ officials said Wednesday that they would not appeal to the Supreme Court, giving the rationale that, even if the justices approved the plan, it would scare away most undocumented immigrants from applying. However, to most observers it seems more likely that they instead would face an extremely uphill battle in getting the conservative majority to approve Obama’s sweeping executive orders.

“The department believes the best way to achieve this goal [immigration reform] is to focus on the ongoing appeal on the merits of the preliminary injunction itself,” said Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush.

On Tuesday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld Federal District Judge Andrew Hanen’s injunction against the administration’s plan, issued on the eve of its implementation in February. The administration must now fight the injunction in Judge Hanen’s court, though it has one more appeal on the docket this summer with the 5th Circuit Court.


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 Issues Revised FMLA Forms with New GINA Rider

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) recently made updates to its Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) notice and medical certification forms, which now carry an expiration date of May 31, 2018.

An additional update with these forms is the GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) Disclaimer or Instruction for Employers, which states:

Do not provide information about genetic tests, as defined in 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(f), genetic services, as defined in 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(e), or the manifestation of disease or disorder in the employee’s family members, 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(b).”


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 Issues Proposed Rule on Federal Contractor ‘Fair Pay’ and Play

The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued proposed guidance to assist contracting agencies and the contracting community in applying the requirements of President Obama’s July 31, 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, including evaluating the severity of labor violations.

The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR Council) is also issuing proposed regulations integrating the order’s requirements, and the provisions of the Labor Department’s guidance into the existing procurement rules.

Both the FAR Council’s proposed regulations and the Labor Department’s proposed guidance will be published in the Federal Register, followed by a 60-day public comment period.

The proposed guidance and regulations build on the existing procurement system, and most federal contractors will only have to attest that they comply with laws providing basic workplace protections; for those contractors that report violations, designated Labor Compliance Advisors will coordinate with the relevant enforcement agency experts to help them come into compliance.

In addition to setting up a process to effectively consider labor law violations, the executive order ensures that contractors’ employees are given the necessary information each pay period to verify the accuracy of their paycheck. It also ensures that workers who may have been sexually assaulted or had their civil rights violated get their day in court, putting an end to mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements covering these claims at large federal contractors.


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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