Back to School – Some States Require Employers to Provide Leave for School-Related Activities

Summer break has come to an end and school is back in session for the fall. There is no federal requirement for employers to allow their employees time off to participate in school related activities of their children, but some states have enacted their own legislation providing employees withback-to-school-1622789_1920 leave from work for reasons such as participating in parent-teacher conferences, classroom activities, or to address their child’s behavioral problems.

The states with current school-related leave requirements are listed below along with a brief summary of the requirements in each state.

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Massachusetts Passes Extensive Pay Equity Law

Following a nationwide trend toward closing the wage gap between men and women, Massachusetts recently enacted the Act to Establish Pay Equity which replaces the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act and will become effective on July 1, 2018.

While Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, the federal Equal Pay Act and the Massachusetts state discrimination law already require employers to pay men and women equal wages for doing the same job; however this new law requires that employers pay equal wages to all employees doing “comparable work.”   The Act states that comparable work requires “substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions.”  This should not be determined based on the job title or job description alone.

Under the new law, employers are allowed to have “variations in wages” based only on the following six criteria: (1) a seniority system; (2) a “merit system”; (3) a system based on “quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue”; (4) geographic location; (5) education, training or experience of the individual; (6) travel required by the position. Continue reading

Intermittent FMLA Leave and Employee Health Coverage

One of our full-time employees has asked to take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule.  What does this mean, and how does it affect our employee’s health coverage?

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FMLA Coverage and Missed Benefit Payments

yes-238374_1280An employee on unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave agreed to pay his share of premiums for coverage under the company’s major medical plan by sending in personal checks.  However, he has missed the due date for the first payment.  Can the company drop him from coverage, and if so, when?

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Dealing with Employee Mental Disabilities Under the ADA

face-535761_1280When interviewing applicants and making employment decisions, keep in mind that mentally disabled employees are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Many individuals with psychiatric disorders face employment discrimination because their disabilities are stigmatized or misunderstood.  According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal government has received a large number of complaints about discrimination due to these disabilities.  As an employer, you must be aware of what comprises a mental disorder and how to legally deal with an employee who is mentally disabled.

Determining a psychiatric disability is a complicated matter.  The ADA requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” for employees who suffer from mental impairments, which the law describes as “any mental or psychological disorder, such as… emotional or mental illness.”

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Colorado’s Wage Protection Act of 2014 Effective January 1, 2015

money-548948_1280The Wage Protection Act of 2014, signed by Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper on May 29, 2014, goes into effect on January 1, 2015, expanding existing state law to include additional types of wage claims and granting the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) more authority to pursue claims on behalf of employees.  This law applies to all private employers with one or more employees in Colorado.

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New California Employer Anti-Bullying Training Required January 2015

california-43750_1280On September 9, 2014, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a new bill requiring California employers to provide anti-bullying training to all supervisors/managers.  This new bill, AB-2053, goes into effect on January 1, 2015.

Current California law requires all employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisors/managers every two years.  Under the new bill, these same employers must “include prevention of abusive conduct as a component of the training.”

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Wage-Hour Laws Create Risks

100 Dollar roll tightened with red rubber band.

Federal investigators with the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) routinely look for companies and organizations with illegal pay practices.

The WHD enforces the federal minimum wage, overtime pay, record-keeping, child labor and other requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. When investigators uncover violations, employers must pay back wages, as well as penalties.

It’s a good time for employers to ensure they are in compliance with the complex Fair Labor Standards Act. Here are 14 ways employers can get tripped up by wage-and-hour violations.

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Working Virtually: The New Frontier in ADA Accommodation?

startup-593322_1280Sometime this year, a U.S. District Court in Detroit will dive back into the weeds to decide whether a particular job at Ford Motor Corporation could be done adequately by an employee working four days a week from home.  That’s the task it was given by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.  This court overruled a trial court’s initial rejection of a discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The EEOC is the federal agency charged with enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act.  What constitutes a reasonable accommodation without placing an undue burden on the employer?  The answer is constantly evolving as the EEOC explores new theories and fact patterns.  (EEOC v. Ford, No. 12-2484).

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Pregnancy Discrimination in the American Workplace

pregnant-422982_1280Employment discrimination related to pregnancy has been illegal for decades, since the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) back in 1978. The law, which was an amendment to the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, prohibits businesses from making employment decisions based on pregnancy. This applies to all aspects of employment, including hiring and firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits (such as leave and health insurance), and other terms or conditions of employment.

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