In the past year, covering the end of the Obama administration to the beginning of the Trump White House, several developments have taken place on the legal and regulatory fronts that employers should be aware of and comply with as needed.
Jan. 22, 2017: Revised Form I-9 use is mandated. The new employment eligibility form that must be used for all new hires comes now in both a plain paper and a digital format. I-9 versions other than the one marked 11-14-16 N can no longer be used.
Jan. 17, 2017: Walking Working Surfaces Standard in effect. Though certain parts of the slips, trips and falls standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are being phased in, the rule itself took effect this January. The final rule includes revised and new provisions addressing, for example, fixed ladders; rope descent systems; fall protection systems and criteria, including personal fall protection systems; and training on fall hazards and fall protection systems.
Jan. 1, 2017: OSHA Electronic Reporting Rule takes effect. The new rule requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. Contained within the rule (see below) was an anti-retaliation provision barring employers from retaliation against employees who report injuries or illnesses.
Dec. 1, 2016: White Collar Overtime Rule blocked by court injunction. A Department of Labor (DOL) final rule raising the salary threshold for exemption from overtime pay at time-and-a-half was stopped by a judge in Texas. The issue now lies before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but it’s not clear if the Trump administration will continue the appeal. The rule established the new salary threshold at $913 a week, or $47,476 a year. As of now, the old threshold of $455 a week, or $23,660, remains in effect.
Dec. 1, 2016: OSHA Anti-Retaliation Rule takes effect. As part of the new electronic reporting requirement of injuries and illnesses from certain employers, an anti-retaliation rule took effect late in 2016. The rule also prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. The final rule requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation, which can be satisfied by posting the already-required OSHA workplace poster.
Nov. 18, 2016: EEOC Issues Guidance on National Origin Discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects applicants and employees from employment discrimination based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, opposition to practices made unlawful by Title VII, or participation in Title VII proceedings.Title VII’s protection against national origin discrimination extends to all employees and applicants for employment in the United States, and, in some circumstances, to U.S. citizens working in other countries. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces the Civil Rights Acts, in late 2016 updated and reissued its guidance on national origin discrimination.
Aug. 29, 2016: EEOC Issues Retaliation Guidance. The EEOC in summer 2016 issued its final Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues, to replace its 1998 Compliance Manual section on retaliation. The guidance also addresses the separate “interference” provision under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits coercion, threats, or other acts that interfere with the exercise of ADA rights.