DOL Issues Rule on Association Retirement Plans (ARPs)

The Department of Labor (DOL) today announced a rule to help strengthen retirement security for millions of small business employees across America.

The rule makes it easier for small businesses to offer retirement savings plans to their workers through Association Retirement Plans (ARPs), which would allow small businesses to band together to offer retirement plans to their employees.

Association Retirement Plans (AHPs) could help employers at small businesses offer retirement accounts without the costs and heaache.

Enhancing workplace retirement savings is critical to the financial security of America’s workers. Approximately 38 million private-sector employees in the United States do not have access to a retirement savings plan through their employers.

Under the rule, ARPs could be offered by associations of employers in a city, county, state, or a multi-state metropolitan area, or in a particular industry nationwide. In addition to association sponsors, the plans could also be sponsored through Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs). A PEO is a human-resource company that contractually assumes certain employment responsibilities for its client employers.

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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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Google Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit for $11 Million

Google has settled for $11 million a class action lawsuit involving 227 individuals who claim they were denied employment because of their age. After the lawyers get nearly $3 million for their part, the remaining litigants will garner about $35,000 each.

google-to-end-forced-arbitrationA judge still must approve the settlement.

Google is not alone on the age discrimination legal front.

ProPublica recently released results of an investigation into the technology industry. Among the findings was that IBM, during a reorganization and downsizing, terminated 20,000 employees in the U.S. over 40 years of age. On Monday, the same day as Google’s announced settlement, a class action lawsuit was filed against the company, alleging age discrimination.

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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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New York Enacts Historic Pay Equity Law

Going beyond the traditional “equal pay for equal work” mandates in most pay equity laws, New York State has now broadened the definition to embrace “substantially similar work.”

At the same time, it has broadened the categories of who’s affected beyond gender to include age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status or domestic violence victim status.

More specifically, the new law empowers employees to seek restitution if they do no receive equal pay for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.”

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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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EEO-1 Component 2 Data Collection Starts Today

Pay data collection for 2017 and 2018 for EEO-1 filers — called Component 2 — starts today with the opening of a dedicated portal.

The data collection was ordered by a federal judge in National Women’s Law Center, et al., v. Office of Management and Budget, et al.

Businesses with at least 100 employees and federal contractors with at least 50 employees and a contract of $50,000 or more with the federal government must file the EEO-1 form.

The workforce snapshot period is an employer-selected pay period between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 of the reporting year. The data must be reported by Sept. 30.

FILING SPECIFICATIONS

COMPONENT 2 FAQs


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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ACA Fate in Hands of 5th Circuit Court

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments in early July on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare).

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5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chamber

The justices were convened to weigh an appeal from Blue State attorneys-general (AGs) over a ruling in December 2018 by District Judge Reed O’Connor of Ft. Worth, Texas, who declared the ACA unconstitutional.

In doing so, Judge O’Connor sided with a lawsuit filed by Red State attorneys-general, led by Texas AG Ken Paxson, who argued that the ACA was unconstitutional now that the individual mandate tax penalty has been reduced to zero.

That argument hinges on the 2012 Supreme Court decision in which Chief Justice John Roberts found the law constitutional based on Congress’s taxing authority. Once the tax was zeroed out, argued the Republican AGs, the law was rendered unconstitutional.

(The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the cash penalty part of the individual mandate, which forces citizens to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.) (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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EEOC Nominations Sent for Confirmation

President Trump has nominated Republican Keith Sonderling of the Labor Department to fill a vacancy on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and at the same time re-nominated Democrat Charlotte Burrows for another five-year term.

Burrows’ term expired July 1 but she can remain on the board while the Senate works on her confirmation. Sonderling is a deputy administrator with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL).

The EEOC in May was given a Republican majority when Janet Dhillon was confirmed for a seat and became chair of the commission. The party ruling the White House generally gets to name three of the five commissioners along with two from the minority party.


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 Appeals Hearing on Track Despite Request for Delay

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals originally set a deadline of today for the filing of supplemental briefs on the question of whether Blue State attorneys general (AGs) and the House of Representatives have standing in the case of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), and surprisingly, Red State AGs requested a 20-day extension, which was denied.

Instead, the court gave all parties a two-day extension until 5 p.m. this Friday.

Blue State AGs pressed for the oral arguments to take place as scheduled because a delay would contribute to uncertainty in health care availability, especially as insurance companies struggle to meet upcoming deadlines on rates for 2020 policies.

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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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5th Circuit Adds New Wrinkle to Obamacare Ruling Appeal

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments on appeal of a district judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) is unconstitutional, but it is now questioning whether anyone has the standing to argue against the ruling.

fifth-circuit-court-rejects-fiduciary-ruleThe Trump administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has already agreed in toto with Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling, so the appeals court is asking what to do “if the federal defendants’ change in position [to agree entirely with the judge’s ruling] has mooted the controversy and no other defendant has standing to appeal.”

No other defendant refers to the Democrats in the House of Representatives and Blue State attorneys general, both of whom are set to argue in favor of the ACA and have already filed briefs for the July 9th hearing. They now have seven days from yesterday to file additional briefs justifying their standing to even appear in court.

University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley, writing about the development on Twitter, concludes: “If neither the blue states nor the House has standing, it would mean that no one has standing to appeal the decision. That would effectively leave the lower court decision unappealable.”

Which would mean Judge O’Connor’s ruling would stick as is.


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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Supreme Court Upholds Power of Regulators, Mostly…

In a case that various interest groups wanted to see end what is known as “Auer deference,” the Supreme Court instead affirmed the 1997 decision behind the principle but in so doing sought to place limits on government regulators.

The Auer deference means that justices at all levels should defer to government agencies’ interpretations of regulations if the regulations are ambiguous.

In a decision that saw different justices offering different opinions for their support of Auer v. Robbins, the precedent-setting case, Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, emphasized that in order for a government agency’s interpretation to be valid, the interpretation must be reasonable, authoritative and based on expertise.

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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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DOL Issues NPRM for Long-Awaited Apprenticeship Program

Two years after an executive order by President Trump asked the Department of Labor (DOL) to develop an apprenticeship program, the department this morning finally announced it had issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to accomplish that very goal.

labor-department-begins-independent-contractor-definition

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta

The NPRM, according to the department, establishes a process for the U.S. Department of Labor to advance the development of high-quality, industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs).

The DOL further announced awards totaling $183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for educational institutions partnering with companies that provide a funding match component.  The department will also make available an additional $100 million for efforts to expand apprenticeships and close the skills gap.

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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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