McDonald’s a Joint Employer with Franchisees, NLRB General Counsel Proclaims

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Office of the General Counsel has investigated charges alleging that McDonald’s franchisees and their franchisor, McDonald’s, USA, LLC, violated the rights of employees as a result of activities surrounding employee protests.

The Office of the General Counsel found merit in some of the charges and no merit in others. The Office of the General Counsel has authorized complaints on alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). If the parties cannot reach settlement in these cases, complaints will issue and McDonald’s, USA, LLC will be named as a joint employer respondent.

The NLRB Office of the General Counsel has had 181 cases involving McDonald’s filed since November 2012. Of those cases, 68 were found to have no merit, 64 cases are currently pending investigation, and 43 cases have been found to have merit. In the 43 cases where complaint has been authorized, McDonald’s franchisees and/or McDonald’s, USA, LLC will be named as a respondent if parties are unable to reach settlement.

In short, this is the first time a franchisor has been linked legally to actions of its franchisees, and the corporate giant could be sued along with the named franchisees should no settlement be reached with the franchisees.

For more information on how the NLRA and NLRB can affect your business, please consult a copy of Personnel Concepts' National Labor Relations 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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IRS Releases ACA Employer Reporting Forms But Not Instructions on How to Use Them

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released draft versions of the forms that employers with 100-plus employees must begin using in 2015 to show compliance with the employer shared responsibility and minimum essential coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Employers with 50-99 employees must use them (when finalized) beginning in 2016.

Draft instructions on using the forms will not be issued until late August.

“In accordance with the IRS' normal process, these draft forms are being provided to help stakeholders, including employers, tax professionals and software providers, prepare for these new reporting provisions and to invite comments from them,” the IRS said in a statement accompanying the forms' release.

The various forms, all dated July 24, 2014, can be found on the IRS's Draft Tax Forms page.


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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Wow, a $1,020 Penalty for Not Having Family Health Insurance!

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is responsible for assessing and collecting penalties on individuals and families who lack health insurance, has now capped the 2014 penalty for individuals at $2,448 and at $12,240 for families of five or more.

This, of course, depends on income and family size. The basic fine for not having health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is $95 per individual or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater.

The newly established IRS upper limits for the 1-percent income assessment is based upon what it calculates as the average monthly premium for an Obamacare Bronze Plan, which it says is $204.

The new policy is laid out under IRS Revenue Procedure 2014-46.


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 to Require Closed Captions on All Movie Theater Films

The Attorney General today signed the Department's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to revise the department's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) title III regulation to require movie theaters to exhibit movies with closed movie captioning and audio description, to require theaters to provide notice to the public about the availability of these services, and to ensure that theaters have staff available who can provide information to patrons about the use of these services. 

This NPRM will soon be published in the Federal Register. Once it is published, there will be a 60-day comment period.


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 Says Consumers Will Receive $330M in Health Insurance Refunds This Year

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today predicted that consumers will receive $330 million in health insurance premium refunds this year because insurers will exceed profits and administrative expenses allowed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Created through the ACA, the 80/20 rule, also known as the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rule, requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and quality improvement activities.  If insurers spend an excessive amount on profits and red tape, they owe a refund back to consumers.

Today's HHS report claims that last year alone, consumers nationwide saved $3.8 billion up front on their premiums as insurance companies operated more efficiently.  Additionally, it claimed that consumers nationwide this year will save $330 million in refunds, with 6.8 million consumers due to receive an average refund benefit of $80 per family.  

If an insurer does not spend enough premium dollars on patient care and quality improvement, it must pay refunds to consumers in one of the following ways:

  • a refund check in the mail;
  • a lump-sum reimbursement to the same account that was used to pay the premium;
  • a reduction in their future premiums; or
  • if the consumer bought insurance through their employer, their employer must provide one of the above options, or apply the refund in another manner that benefits its employees, such as more generous benefits.

According to HHS: "The 80/20 rule, along with other standards such as the required review of proposed premium increases, is one of many reforms created under the health law helping to slow premium growth and moderate premium rates.  Combined with the savings consumers are receiving from tax credits on the Marketplace and the new market reforms, including the prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions and charging women more for insurance than men, the 80/20 rule helps ensure every American has access to quality, affordable health insurance."


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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Recall of Seattle’s $15-an-Hour Minimum Wage Fails

Two signature-gathering efforts to place a referendum on the ballot to eliminate Seattle's mandated new $15-an-hour minimum wage have failed.

Needing 16,510 voters' signatures to make the ballot, an effort by business group Forward Seattle qualified 14,818 signatures out of 18,929 obtained. Save Our Choice fared even worse, garnering only 455 valid signatures.

In June, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour. The measure calls for businesses with 500 or more employees to match the minimum wage within three years (four if they offer health insurance). Businesses with fewer than 500 employees have seven years to reach the mandate.


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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GAO Sting Operation Finds Obamacare Honors 11 of 12 Fake Applications

The Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a sting operation on Obamacare during the health insurance sign-up period that ended March 31  and announced that 11 of 12 fake applicants are still to this day covered with subsidies.

"The federal marketplace approved coverage for 11 of our 12 fictitious applicants who initially applied online, or by telephone," Seto Bagdoyan, who directs GAO's Forensic Audits and Investigative Service, is set to testify today before Congress, according to NBC News.

According to Bagdoyan, the only fake applicant rejected — one out of the 12 — was the one who failed to supply a Social Security number.

"The total amount of these credits for the 11 approved applications is about $2,500 monthly or about $30,000 annually. We also obtained cost-sharing reduction subsidies, according to marketplace representatives, in at least nine of the 11 cases," Bagdoyan said.


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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Plans That Drop Contraceptive Coverage Must Send Out Notices

The Department of Labor (DOL) is requiring closely held companies that drop contraceptive services from their health plans to inform their employees in writing within 60 days of the decision.

The vehicle for doing this is the Summary Plan Description (SPD) for the health plan, which would have to disclose the elimination of coverage and be distributed to all employees.

The guidance appears in a July 17 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posting that followed the Supreme Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. that privately held companies could opt out of the contraceptive services requirement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if it conflicted with the owners' religious beliefs.

“For plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, ERISA requires disclosure of information relevant to coverage of preventive services, including contraceptive coverage,” the DOL said on its Employee Benefits Security Administration website.

Read "FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XX)."


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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President Signs LGBT Anti-Discrimination Executive Order Amendments

President Obama this morning signed amendments to Executive Order 11246 prohibiting companies that conduct business with the federal government from discriminating against their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees.

"In fact, more states now allow same-sex marriage than prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers," Obama said at the signing ceremony.  "So I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American."

In all, 18 states and 200 cities and localities have passed LGBT anti-discrimination laws.

Executive Order 11246 was originally issued by President Franklin Roosevelt to prohibit racial discrimination in the national defense industry. It was later expanded by President Eisenhower and President Johnson and today by President Obama.


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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CMS Exempts U.S. Territories from Most Obamacare Rules

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has informed the U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands that most Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions do not apply to them.

The provisions that do not apply to the territories are guaranteed issue, the community rating rules, the essential health benefits rule and the minimum medical loss ratio (MLR) limitation on insurance companies' administrative charges, among other rules.

In other words, it's business pre-Obamacare for health insurance in the territories.


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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