Suit Against NCAA Claims Student Athletes Are Covered Under the FLSA

A former college athlete is suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and a slew of Division 1 colleges and universities, alleging that student athletes should be covered by the wage and hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the law which regulates minimum wages and overtime.

The suit maintains that the NCAA affords better treatment to students in work study programs, “who work at food service counters or sell programs or usher at athletic events, or who wait on tables or wash dishes in dormitories” and thus qualify as temporary employees of the NCAA and are paid at least a federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour for their non-academic work.

The suit by former soccer player Samantha Sackos claims that student athletes deserve the same status as work study participants, that is, as “temporary employees of the NCAA.” The lawsuit was filed this week in Indiana.

Employers and business owners, to better understand the nation’s wage and hour laws, get 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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OSHA Releases Ebola Advisory on Employer and Employee Obligations

Ebola-virusThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released an advisory on “possible worker exposure to the Ebola virus,” detailing both employer and employee obligations.

The advisory notes:

Exposure to the virus or someone with Ebola may be more likely in certain sectors, including the healthcare, mortuary/death care, and airline servicing industries. Workers who interact with people, animals, goods, and equipment arriving in the U.S. from foreign countries with current Ebola outbreaks are at the greatest risk for exposure.

Precautionary measures for preventing exposure to the Ebola virus depend on the type of work, potential for Ebola-virus contamination of the work environment, and what is known about other potential exposure hazards.

Specific sections of the advisory address “background, including the origins of Ebola virus and EHF (Ebola hemorrhagic fever),” “hazard recognition,” “medical information,” “standards for protecting workers from the Ebola virus,” “control and prevention of EHF,” and a catch-all called “additional resources.”

Employers, help educate and reassure your employees about the Ebola scare. Get and post a copy of our new Ebola Information Poster 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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IRS Ups Contribution Limits for Employee Pension Plans

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today announced it was granting cost-of-living adjustments for employee pension plans for tax year 2015. As a result, the cap was raised to $18,000 from $17,500 a year for those participating in 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans.

At the same time, the catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over participating in those plans, as well as those 50 or over participating in the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, was also increased $500 from $5,500 to $6,000.

The limit on annual contributions to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) remains unchanged at $5,500. The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains at $1,000, the IRS announced.

Effective Jan. 1, 2015, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) remains unchanged at $210,000.

READ THE FULL IRS ANNOUNCEMENT


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 Launches $840M Initiative to Lower Health Costs Through System Redesign

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced an initiative that will fund successful applicants who work directly with medical providers to rethink and redesign their practices, moving from systems driven by quantity of care to ones focused on patients’ health outcomes, and coordinated health care systems. These applicants could include group practices, health care systems, medical provider associations and others.

This effort will help clinicians develop strategies to share, adapt and further improve the quality of care they provide, while holding down costs, according to Burwell. Strategies could include:

  • Giving doctors better access to patient information, such as information on prescription drug use to help patients take their medications properly;
  • Expanding the number of ways patients are able communicate with the team of clinicians taking care of them;
  • Improving the coordination of patient care by primary care providers, specialists, and the broader medical community; and
  • Using electronic health records on a daily basis to examine data on quality and efficiency.

“The administration is partnering with clinicians to find better ways to deliver care, pay providers and distribute information to improve the quality of care we receive and spend our nation’s dollars more wisely,” said Burwell.  “We all have a stake in achieving these goals and delivering for patients, providers and taxpayers alike.”


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 Compliance Information for ACA Shared Responsibility

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has unveiled tentative reporting forms to be used by affected large employers who must begin offering health insurance to their employees beginning Jan. 1 or pay a penalty to the IRS.

Those companies with 100 or more employers will be subject to the shared responsibility provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) commencing on New Year’s Day 2015, meaning they must offer employee health insurance or be subject to a “shared responsibility” payment (in other words, a monetary penalty). Employers with 50-99 employees have an additional year, until Jan. 1, 2016, to comply.

All large employers (50-plus employees), however, must file reports by 2016 detailing how and whether they offered health insurance to their workforces in 2015.

Final IRS reporting forms won’t be available until the end of 2014, but details on the shared responsibility provision and reporting are available by clicking here.

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 and easy-to-read 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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CDC Updates Health Care Workers’ Ebola Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  is tightening previous infection control guidance for health care workers caring for patients with Ebola, to ensure there is no ambiguity. The guidance focuses on specific personal protective equipment (PPE) health care workers should use and offers detailed step-by-step instructions for how to put the equipment on and take it off safely.

Recent experience from safely treating patients with Ebola at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and National Institutes of Health Clinical Center are reflected in the guidance.

The enhanced guidance is centered on three principles:

  • All health care workers undergo rigorous training and are practiced and competent with PPE, including taking it on and off in a systemic manner
  • No skin exposure when PPE is worn
  • All workers are supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker taking PPE on and off

All patients treated at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and the NIH Clinical Center have followed the three principles. None of the workers at these facilities have contracted the illness.

Employers, under the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, you are responsible for keeping your employees informed about health issues that could affect them. With the Ebola virus on everyone’s mind, get a copy of Personnel Concepts’ new Ebola Information Poster to help fulfill your obligation regarding this potentially serious threat.


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 Pushes Development of Ebola Vaccine

The development of a vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease will be accelerated with support from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

Under a one-year contract with Profectus BioSciences Inc., headquartered in Baltimore, ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will provide approximately $5.8 million in funding, in addition to subject matter expertise and technical assistance, to further develop an experimental Ebola vaccine. The company will manufacture vaccine for use in animal safety studies and future clinical trials and conduct animal studies to test safety. The contract can be extended to a total of 13 months and $8.6 million.

Upon successful completion of this work, the company is expected to submit an investigational new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This application, once accepted by the FDA, would allow the vaccine to begin the first clinical trials for safety in humans.

“We are pushing hard to advance the development of multiple products as quickly as possible for clinical evaluation and future use in preventing or treating this deadly disease,” said BARDA Director Robin Robinson, Ph.D. “Our goal is to close the global gap in vaccines and therapeutics needed to protect the public health from Ebola as highlighted by the epidemic in West Africa.”


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 Launches Website on Accessible Workplace Technology

The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has announced the launch of http://www.PEATworks.org — a comprehensive Web portal spearheaded by ODEP’s Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. From educational articles to interactive tools, the website’s content aims to help employers and the technology industry adopt accessible technology as part of everyday business practice so that all workers can benefit.

PEATworks.org will be the central hub of PEAT, a multifaceted initiative to improve the employment, retention and career advancement of people with disabilities through the promotion of accessible technology. PEAT conducts outreach, facilitates collaboration and provides a mix of resources to serve as a catalyst for policy development and innovation related to accessible technology in the workplace.

“PEAT is the only entity of its kind bringing together employers, technology providers, thought leaders and technology users around the topic of accessible technology and employment,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez. “Given the critical role that accessible technology plays in the employment of people with disabilities, ODEP is delighted to announce the launch of PEATworks.org, with its rich array of tools and resources.

Features of PEATworks.org include an action guide for employers and informational articles, and it will serve as a platform for collaboration and dialogue around accessible technology in the workplace. Also featured is “TechCheck,” an interactive tool to help employers assess their technology accessibility practices and find resources to help develop them further.


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 Action on ‘White Collar’ Overtime Exemption Rule

Along with the home care worker rule, the Department of Labor (DOL) has confirmed that work on a rule redefining the exemptions from overtime pay for professional, executive, administrative, outside sales and computer employees has been delayed until next year.

The department’s Semiannual Regulatory Agenda had targeted November 2014 as the goal for the redefinition, which would presumably up the ante by raising the salary requirement for overtime exemption from its current base of $455 a week, thus making millions more eligible for overtime pay.

Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that “any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity can be classified as exempt from overtime pay.” The current salary requirement of $455 a week to be classified as exempt was set in 2004 with the enactment of the FairPay Overtime Rules.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration ordered the DOL to look into the issue and come up with new standards, deeming $455 a week to be too low a threshold.

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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DOL Issues $170M in Grants for Long-Term Unemployed Job Placement

The Department of Labor today announced $169,771,960 in grants to expedite the employment of Americans struggling with long-term unemployment. The grants are part of the Ready to Work Partnership initiative to support and scale innovative collaborations between employers, nonprofit organizations and federal job training programs to help connect ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.

“There’s no question that individuals struggling with long-term unemployment are better off than they were 12 months ago, but there are still twice as many of them as there were before the recession. The constant struggle to find work has left many of them feeling discouraged and disregarded,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The federal grants we’re awarding today are part of a series of administration initiatives designed to help encourage, empower and employ this pool of talented individuals.”

These grants are part of an administration-wide effort to address the ongoing issue of long-term unemployment. Secretary Perez and Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council, will meet with chief human resource officers of leading companies, including Citigroup Inc., CVS Caremark Corp., The Boeing Co. and Dow Chemical Co., among others, during a roundtable discussion hosted at the White House on Wednesday, Oct. 15, to discuss improvements these companies have made to increase recruitment of and eliminate barriers to hiring long-term unemployed individuals. The Office of Personnel Management will also issue guidance today to federal agencies on increasing recruitment and hiring of long-term unemployed individuals.

Grants, ranging from $3 million to $10 million, were awarded to 23 partnerships to serve individuals in 20 states and Puerto Rico. Three grantees — District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund (Pennsylvania), Memphis Bioworks Foundation (Tennessee) and Worksystems Inc. (Oregon) — will support projects in multiple states.


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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