DOL, Idaho Sign Agreement on Misclassification of Workers

Officials from the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Idaho Department of Labor have signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) intended to protect employees’ rights by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other non-employee statuses. Under the agreement, both agencies may share information and coordinate law enforcement.

The MOU represents a new, combined federal and state effort to work together to protect the employees’ rights and level the playing field for responsible employers by reducing the practice of misclassification.

Idaho is the latest state agency to join this effort with the U.S. Labor Department. Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming agencies have signed similar agreements.


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 Proposes New Beryllium Standard

The federal government is proposing a new standard that would dramatically lower workplace exposure to beryllium, a widely used material that can cause devastating lung diseases. The proposal would apply to an estimated 35,000 workers covered by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“This proposal will save lives and help thousands of workers stay healthy and be more productive on the job,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “We’re pleased that industry has been such a strong voice in advocating for a more rigorous standard. The proposal is strong because of unprecedented partnership between manufacturers and the United Steelworkers.”

Currently, OSHA’s eight-hour permissible exposure limit for beryllium is 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium. That standard was originally established in 1948 by the Atomic Energy Commission and adopted by OSHA in 1971. OSHA’s proposed standard would reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. The proposed rule would also require additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, other medical surveillance and training.

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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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EEOC Targets Employment Exam in Latest Discrimination Lawsuit

This week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit alleging that an assisted living facility had used an “unlawful employment exam” that resulted in national original discrimination against African employees.

The lawsuit alleges that the exam for Personal Care Providers (PCPs) contained questions “known to confuse ESL [English as a second language] test-takers” that resulted in “a disproportionate percent of the African exam takers” failing the test.

Discrimination of employees on the basis of national origin is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit in question is EEOC v. Columbine Management Services Inc.


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 Rules Individual Filing a Lawsuit Is ‘Protected, Concerted Activity’

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), with a 2-1 majority, ruled this past week that a lone employee filing a lawsuit that seeks class action status is engaging in “protected, concerted activity,” and thus that person’s subsequent termination was illegal.

The two affirming members wrote:

[T]he Board has never been squarely presented with the question presented here: whether a single employee who files a lawsuit ostensibly on behalf of himself and other employees is engaged in protected concerted activity. We hold that he is, based on the reasoning of two recent Board decisions.

The ruling then referenced the board’s earlier D.R. Horton decision (which courts have rejected) and its Murphy Oil USA Inc. ruling, which relied upon the disputed Horton decision.

NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and member Lauren McFerran agreed in the case of 200 E. 81st Rest. Corp. Board member Philip A. Miscimarra dissented. The lone employee’s lawsuit was based on various provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

READ THE DECISION


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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Michigan Supreme Court Grants Freedom from Agency Fees

The Michigan Supreme Court, in reviewing a suit against the state’s recent right-to-work law, which frees employees from having to join unions and pay full union dues, ruled 4-3 this week that public employee unions cannot collect agency fees either.

The ruling not only affirms Michigan as a right-to-work state but also frees employees who opt out of their unions from paying agency fees. Previously, workers could opt out of their unions but would still have to pay what is called an agency fee — to cover the union activities in collectively bargaining for wages and benefits.

The decision ruled that the Michigan Civil Service Commission in fact never had the constitutional authority to assess agency fees on public employees in the first place.

The decision is a blog to both public and private unions in Michigan.


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 Issues NPRM on ‘Ongoing Obligation’ to Keep Records

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend its recordkeeping regulations to clarify that businesses have an “ongoing obligation” to maintain records on injuries and illnesses at work.

The proposed amendment is in response to a court ruling that set the statute of limitations on recordkeeping violations at six months for alleged failure to properly record an injury or illness. OSHA had long argued that the statute should be five-and-a-half years since records must be maintained for five years, while the legal statute is six months (five years plus six months).

Under the court ruling, OSHA could not fine a business for a non-recorded injury or illness if it occurred more than six months previously. By injecting “ongoing obligation” into the regulations, the agency hopes to get around the six-month limitation.

Comments on the NPRM are due by Sept. 27.


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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Study Touts Success of Obamacare

Using results from the 2012-2015 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (a daily national telephone survey of 507,055 adults aged 18-64), Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analysts reported today that Obamacare has decreased the medically uninsured by 7.9 percent and  achieved significant improvement in access to health care and medications.

The study, “Changes in Self-reported Insurance Coverage, Access to Care, and Health Under the Affordable Care Act,” concludes in its abstract:

The ACA’s first 2 open enrollment periods were associated with significantly improved trends in self-reported coverage, access to primary care and medications, affordability, and health. Low-income adults in states that expanded Medicaid reported significant gains in insurance coverage and access compared with adults in states that did not expand Medicaid.


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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OSHA Grants 60-Day Window on Enforcement of Confined Spaces Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will grant a two-month window for training when its new standard on confined spaces in construction goes into effect next Monday, Aug. 3. Full enforcement will then commence on Friday, Oct. 2.

In attention to training employees on the new standard, companies are being urged to use the 60 days to procure any necessary equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE).

Full details are available in “Temporary Enforcement Policy for Construction Work in Confined Spaces.”


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, DOJ Celebrate 25th Anniversary of ADA

Today, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) jointly with the Department of Justice (DOJ) at an event at DOJ headquarters.

During the event, the two agencies will announce a memorandum of understanding (MOU) designed to strengthen EEOC and DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s enforcement of the ADA and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

Title I of the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment. GINA bars the use of genetic information in making employment decisions.

Keynote speakers at the July 23 event include EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, former Senators Bob Dole and Tom Harkin and Representative Steny Hoyer.

“As we celebrate the ADA, the world’s first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities, we reflect on the critical role that EEOC plays in fulfilling its promise,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. “We look forward to working with employers and the disability community to make continued progress in the years ahead.”

EEOC and DOJ together enforce the ADA’s provisions concerning public sector employers. The MOU directs EEOC and DOJ to coordinate investigations of charges of discrimination on the basis of disability, while respecting the distinct responsibilities and enforcement priorities of each agency. Further, the MOU calls for the agencies to share information, as appropriate and to the extent allowable under law.


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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New York Fast Food Workers to Get $15 an Hour

The New York Wage Board moved Wednesday to raise the hour wage for fast food workers from $8.75 an hour to $15, which would take effect in New York City on Dec. 31, 2018, and for the rest of the state by mid-2021.

The board’s move does not require legislative approval, but will need a sign-off by the state labor commissioner, which is expected shortly.


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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