EEOC Issues Sample Notice for Wellness Programs

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has posted on its website a sample notice that will help employers who have wellness programs comply with their obligations under a recently issued Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rule. The notice is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/ada-wellness-notice.cfm, and a brief question-and-answer document describing the notice requirement and how to use the sample notice is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/qanda-ada-wellness-notice.cfm.

The rule, available at https://federalregister.gov/a/2016-11558, says that employer wellness programs that ask employees about their medical conditions or that ask employees to take medical examinations (such as tests to detect high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes) must ensure that these programs are reasonably designed to promote health and prevent disease, that they are voluntary, and that employee medical information is kept confidential.


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.
GoTo top Top

Virginia Becomes 31st State to Join DOL in Combatting Misclassification

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Virginia Employment Commission 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.

The two agencies announced they will provide clear, accurate and easy-to-access outreach to employers, employees and other stakeholders; share resources; and enhance enforcement by conducting joint investigations and sharing information consistent with applicable law.

The WHD is working with the IRS and 30 other states to combat employee misclassification and to ensure that workers get the wages, benefits, and protections to which they are entitled. Labeling employees as something they are not, such as independent contractors, can deny them of basic rights such as minimum wage, overtime, and a host of other benefits, according to the WHD.

Misclassification also generates substantial losses to the federal government and state governments in the form of lower tax revenues, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation funds.


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.
GoTo top Top

HHS, Cuba to Partner on Health Issues

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health, what she later called an important milestone between the two countries since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations in 2015.

The MOU establishes coordination across a broad spectrum of public health issues, including global health security, communicable and non-communicable diseases, research and development, and information technology. The signing also kicks off a two-day visit to HHS from Cuba’s Minister of Health, Dr. Roberto Tomás Morales Ojeda.

“Cuba has made significant contributions to health and science, as evidenced by their contribution to the Ebola response in West Africa and becoming the first country to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission. This new collaboration is a historic opportunity for two nations to build on each other’s knowledge and experience, and benefit biomedical research and public health at large,” Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said.

The U.S. and Cuba share an interest in detecting and responding to emerging infectious diseases such as dengue and chikungunya, serious mosquito-borne viral diseases, according to HHS. Both countries also have an aging population, necessitating an increased focus on responding to the increasing burden of neurodegenerative and non-communicable diseases, including cancer, which is the leading cause of death in Cuba and second in the U.S.


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.
GoTo top Top

OFCCP Updates Sex Discrimination Guidelines

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued a Final Rule updating its sex discrimination guidelines, which were last revised in 1970.

The rule implements Executive Order 11246, which prohibits companies with federal contracts and subcontracts from discriminating in employment on the basis of sex.

According to the rule:

This rule substantially revises the existing Sex Discrimination Guidelines, which have not been substantively updated since 1970, to align them with current law and legal principles and address their application to contemporary workplace practices and issues. The provisions in this final rule articulate well-established case law and/or applicable requirements from other Federal agencies and therefore the requirements for affected entities are largely unchanged by this rule.

The Final Rule takes effect in 60 days.


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.
GoTo top Top

EEOC Miami Office to Help with Women’s Issues in Puerto Rico

The Miami District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU)  this week with the Office of the Women’s Advocate of Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The agreement establishes an ongoing collaboration between these entities to provide women with information, guidance, and access to resources on the prevention of discrimination in the workplace. Ombudsman Wanda Vazquez, Esq., and William R. Sanchez, who represented the Miami District Office in his capacity as EEOC San Juan Local Office director, signed the agreement.

“EEOC’s San Juan Local Office is very proud to join forces with the Office of the Women’s Advocate of Puerto Rico in our efforts to achieve equal opportunity for women in the workplace,” said Sanchez. “This agreement represents a giant step forward in this effort.”

Under the MOU’s terms, EEOC will expand its relationship with the Office of the Women’s Advocate by collaborating with efforts to provide women throughout the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico with education and training to help them exercise their workplace rights. These efforts include providing English, Spanish and Creole-language materials explaining the laws enforced by the federal agency and how they may file discrimination charges with EEOC.

EEOC’s Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa and San Juan EEOC offices, and has jurisdiction over Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination.


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.
GoTo top Top

DOL to Award $100 Million in America’s Promise Grants for Job Training, Placement

The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced the availability of approximately $100 million in America’s Promise Job-Driven Grants to develop and grow regional partnerships between workforce agencies, education and training providers and employers in a variety of industries such as information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, financial services and educational services.

The America’s Promise grant competition is designed to:

  • Increase opportunities for all Americans through tuition-free training for middle-to high-skilled occupations and industries.
  • Expand employer involvement in the design and delivery of training programs.
  • Utilize evidence-based sector strategies to increase employability, employment earnings and outcomes of job seekers.
  • Leverage additional public, private and foundation resources to scale and sustain proven strategies.

Approximately 20 to 40 grants of $1 million to $6 million will be awarded throughout the country. For each sector and service area, partnerships must include the public workforce system, an economic development agency, at least one education and training provider and at least five employers or a regional industry association.

The four-year grants will support tuition-free education and training that prepares participants for jobs in industries that currently utilize the H-1B temporary visa program to meet industry workforce needs. Grant-funded programs will use individual assessments to determine the best strategies to successfully move participants into middle- to high-skilled jobs including accelerated training, longer-term intensive training and upskilling current employees to meet the demands of higher skilled jobs.


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.
GoTo top Top

ERISA Advisory Council Meeting for Three Days

The Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, also known as the ERISA Advisory Council, is meeting at the Department of Labor’s headquarters today through Thursday, to hear testimony from invited witnesses and to receive an update from the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). The council has scheduled the EBSA update tentatively for the morning of June 9.

The council’s discussion includes “Cybersecurity Considerations for Benefit Plans” on June 7, and “Participant Plan Transfers and Account Consolidation for the Advancement of Lifetime Plan Participation” on June 8. Both topics will be discussed on June 9; however, the meetings’ schedule is subject to change. More information on these topics is available on the Advisory Council page of the EBSA web site, at dol.gov/ebsa/aboutebsa/erisa_advisory_council.html.


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.
GoTo top Top

Benefits.gov Website Now Geotargeted

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the Benefits.gov – official federal government benefits website – now customizes the user’s search for government benefits based on the user’s location. By personalizing the content on government benefits and other information – and providing content most commonly requested – the site now provides a better and more efficient tool for its users, according to a press release.

A collaborative effort of 17 federal agencies, Benefits.gov offers information and more on 1,200 federally funded benefit and assistance programs. Launched in 2002, the site is piloting location-based, personalization technology for the first time – both on the site’s homepage and each of its “Benefit Details” pages.

On the Benefits.gov homepage, a list of five popular benefits near the site visitor’s location appears. Users can then click on the benefit to view more information. The Benefit Details page contains information on eligibility, the application process and program contact information. The page also has a list of popular benefits on the right-hand side of the page, alongside the program information.

The introduction of these new features is part of a broader initiative to personalize the user experience on Benefits.gov. The next step in this personalization effort will incorporate dynamic search, allowing users to enter a search term on Benefits.gov and receive a list of other similar and popular topics. Currently in development, this enhancement will help users gain a more holistic view of the site’s offerings.

Personalization is the latest of the site’s innovations. Since its launch, Benefits.gov underwent a complete site redesign in 2010 and a more recent upgrade to make the site responsive to mobile devices. These and other efforts will help keep Benefits.gov at the forefront of government technology, and ensure a more efficient and seamless user experience.

Operated, managed and supported by federal agency partnerships, Benefits.gov provide citizens with easy, online access to government benefit and assistance programs. The U.S. Department of Labor serves as the managing partner of Benefits.gov is collaboration with the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Office of Personnel Management, the Small Business Administration and the Social Security Administration.


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.
GoTo top Top

EEOC Seeks Public Input on National Origin Discrimination Enforcement

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has voted to release for public input a proposed enforcement guidance addressing national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC’s enforcement guidance documents express official agency policy and explain how the laws and regulations apply to specific workplace situations.

Title VII protects job applicants and employees from discrimination based on their race, color, religion, sex or national origin, as well as retaliation because a person complained about discrimination or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Title VII prohibits employer actions that treat people unfavorably because of their national origin, including because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background.

In 2002, the EEOC last comprehensively addressed national origin discrimination. Since that time, there have been significant legal developments addressing national origin discrimination. The revised guidance addresses important issues, including job segregation, human trafficking, and intersectional discrimination.

“No person should face barriers to equal employment opportunity in America simply because of their ethnicity or country of origin,” said EEOC Chair Jenny Yang. “The EEOC has identified protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable populations as a national strategic priority. The Commission looks forward to hearing public input on the proposed enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination.”

In fiscal year 2015, approximately 11 percent of the 89,385 private sector charges filed with EEOC alleged national origin discrimination. These charges alleged a wide variety of Title VII violations, including unlawful failure to hire, termination, language-related issues, and harassment.

The draft guidance is available for review at https://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EEOC-2016-0004.


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.
GoTo top Top

DOL Grants to Help Homeless Veterans Find Employment

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has announced the award of $36 million in Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) grants to help an estimated 17,000 veterans successfully transition to sustainable housing and good civilian jobs. The grants will fund a variety of services to assist homeless veterans in their return to the labor force including occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance.

“Veterans homelessness is a moral outrage and it hurts the economy as well,” said the secretary in announcing the grants at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ annual conference. “We know that America works best when we field a full team, and veterans are some of our most valuable players. When a lack of stable housing is keeping highly skilled veterans out of the workforce, we all lose out on their gifts and talents.”

Grants were awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards, local public agencies and nonprofit organizations, tribal governments, and faith-based and community organizations. HVRP is the only federal program focused exclusively on employment of homeless veterans. President Obama has proposed increasing funding for the HVRP program to $50 million in the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget.

Many HVRP grant recipients’ awards will also include funding to allow them to target specific at-risk veteran populations. The Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program provides funding for services to expedite the reintegration of incarcerated or recently incarcerated veterans who are at risk for homeless into the labor force. The Homeless Female Veterans and Veterans with Families Program provides funding for services to expedite the reintegration of homeless female veterans and veterans with families into the labor force.


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.
GoTo top Top