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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DOL Extends Comment Period for Contractors’ Sex Discrimination Rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a two-week extension of the comment period for its proposed rule governing the obligations of federal contractors and subcontractors not to discriminate on the basis of sex in their employment practices.

The extension ensures that the public has time to comment on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 25, 2015, decision in Young v. United Parcel Service. That decision involved application of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. The Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) follows Title VII principles when enforcing the law against employment discrimination by federal contractors and subcontractors.

OFCCP published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on Jan. 30, 2015, with a March 31 deadline to submit comments. The comment period will be extended through Tuesday, April 14. To read and comment on the proposed rule, please visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/SDNPRM/index.html.


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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A Tale of Two Lawsuits

Former UPS driver Kathy Young, who accused that firm of pregnancy discrimination, will have her day in court again, but Ellen Pao, who accused her firm of gender discrimination and retaliation, is walking away empty-handed.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that Ms. Young’s lawsuit against UPS for refusing to grant her light duty while she was pregnant should proceed to trial after two previous rejections. On Friday, a court in San Francisco threw out Ms. Pao’s charges of gender-based discrimination and retaliation for her filing a lawsuit against the venture capital (VC) firm where she worked, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

“I have told my story and thousands of people heard it,” Pao said outside the courtroom after the verdict was reached. “If I’ve helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in VC, it was worth it.”

The jury that heard the five-week trial was comprised of six men and six women, and the vote on all charges was at least 9 to 3. By most accounts, the trial was a seminal event in the male-dominated Silicon Valley, where her firm is located.


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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Payback Time for 50 Percent of Obamacare Subsidy Recipients

Half of U.S. households eligible for a 2014 tax subsidy under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) probably owe a repayment to the government, while 45 percent probably should receive a refund, according to estimates from a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The analysis – which is a simulation based on historical patterns of income volatility among all households eligible for ACA premium subsidies — estimates that the average repayment amount would be $794, and the average refund would be $773.

The Department of the Treasury estimates that 3 to 5 percent of all tax-filing households will need to reconcile ACA advance premium tax credits when they file 2014 taxes, representing about 4.5 to 7.5 million households.

Under the health law, households with incomes from 100 to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,490 to $45,960 for an individual in 2013, the base year for 2014 subsidies) can be eligible for tax credits on a sliding scale to help pay health insurance premiums for plans purchased in ACA marketplaces.

Taxpayers may elect to receive the subsidies in advance, based on projected household income, but then must reconcile the income estimate with their actual income when filing federal taxes. If income is higher than projected, a household could be required to repay all or a portion of the credit. If income is lower, the household could receive a refund. (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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SCOTUS Sides with Pregnant Driver in Long-Running UPS Lawsuit

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, has sided with former UPS driver Peggy Young in her legal efforts against her former employer, whom she accused of discrimination because it refused to put her on lighter duty when she was pregnant.

Ms. Young twice lost in lower courts in her effort to sue UPS for back pay and damages, but the case will now be retried after the SCOTUS decision.

The two lower-court cases and the Supreme Court ruling all hinged on wording in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978, which requires pregnant women to be afforded the same accommodations as other employees. The lower courts will now have the broader SCOTUS interpretation to guide their proceedings.

Writing on behalf of the majority, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said the lower court is required to determine if the employer had “legitimate, nondiscriminatory, nonpretextual justification” for treating employees differently.

UPS had a light-duty option for workers injured on the job, but not for pregnant employees, so when Ms. Young requested light duty (not having to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds), she was placed on unpaid leave and lost her medical benefits. UPS has since changed its policy to accommodate pregnant workers.

Nine states have now enacted pregnancy discrimination laws, and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) also includes pregnancy as a protected “disability.”


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 Conducting Survey of Working Women Through April 27

The Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor (DOL) is seeking public commentary for its Survey of Working Women “in order to identify employment issues and challenges currently facing women, including their perceptions on career choice and overall equity in the workplace.”

The last “Working Women Count!” survey was conducted in 1994, and the request for comments from working women notes that “the labor force, employment opportunities, work environments and the American family have changed substantially” in the 20 years since.

Comments will be accepted through April 27 and should be emailed to Angela Adams of the Women’s Bureau at Adams.Angela@dol.gov


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 Issues Guidance on Employee Handbooks

The Office of the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued Memorandum GC 15-04, which aims to discuss “cases raising significant legal or policy issues” when it comes to employee handbooks.

In the memorandum, which is fairly lengthy at 30 pages, Richard F. Griffin Jr., the general counsel, warns that his office (and the NLEB) will generally find rules contained in employee handbooks in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) if “the rule has a chilling effect on employees Section 7 activity” rights to “protected, concerted activity” at work.

Such activity can range from water cooler discussions about conditions at work to union organizing itself.

Griffin further explains:  “Even if a rule does not explicitly prohibit Section 7 activity, however, it will still be found unlawful if 1) employees would reasonably construe the rule’s language to prohibit Section 7 activity; 2) the rule was promulgated in response to union or other Section 7 activity; or 3) the rule was actually applied to restrict the exercise of Section 7 rights.”

You can download Memorandum GC 15-04 here. It is considered “must reading” by lawyers who have reviewed the document.


It’s probably a good to review and update your company’s employee handbook in the light of recent NLRB guidance. You can use our convenient employee online handbook creator to create your new publication for sharing and distribution.



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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Obamacare Five Years Old Today

While Democrats were singing its praises, Republicans in Congress were working on a measure to present to the president to end it (however unlikely that he’d ever sign it).

“It,” of course, is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare, which celebrated its fifth year of existence on March 23, 2015, having been signed into law on the same day in 2010 by President Obama.

In support of the program, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report claiming the ACA resulted in a $7.4 billion reduction in hospital costs for treating the uninsured.

“Five years later, as more Americans enjoy affordable, quality health coverage, we know that the ACA works,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

Countered Sen. John Thune, Republican of South Dakota: “The American people have waited long enough for relief from the pain Obamacare is causing them.  I look forward to finally repealing this fundamentally flawed law and replacing it with real reforms that will actually lower costs and increase access to care.”

The Supreme Court will no doubt have the final say on Obamacare when it issues its ruling in King v. Burwell, which could end federal health insurance subsidies. That ruling is expected in June.


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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EEOC Proposes Rule on Company Wellness Programs

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on March 20 voted to send a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the interplay of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with respect to wellness programs to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance.

This proposed rule, which was approved by a bipartisan vote, would amend the regulations implementing the equal employment provisions of the ADA to address the interaction between Title I of the ADA and financial incentives as part of wellness programs offered through group health plans.

The submission of the NPRM to OMB represents the start of the regulatory process. After OMB approval, the proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register for a 60-day public notice and comment period. The NPRM cannot be made public prior to its publication in the Federal Register.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.


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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