An employer’s decision to rescind an African American applicant’s job offer after she refused to comply with a race-neutral grooming policy that prohibited her from wearing her hair in dreadlocks did not constitute race discrimination in violation of Title VII, ruled the 11th Circuit. Notably, the court declined to adopt the EEOC’s expansive view that Title VII’s protections extend to practices that are “historically, physiologically and culturally associated with … race” and held that “Title VII protects persons in covered categories with respect to their immutable characteristics, but not their cultural practices.”

Continue Reading Employer’s No Dreadlock Policy Did Not Violate Title VII, Says Eleventh Circuit

Uber, Lyft, and their competitors, offering handy apps, responsive drivers and competitive prices, are fast becoming a favored commuter option.  Many employers either subsidize employee commuter expenses or allow employees to pay for commuter expenses through payroll deductions.  Under current law (Internal Revenue Code Section 132(f)) and regulation, these expenses can be tax-free (up to certain dollar limits) if they are incurred through qualifying commuter highway vehicles, van pools, transit passes, parking, and bicycles.  Many employers and employees are asking: can Uber and Lyft commutes be provided tax-free?

Continue Reading Can Employees Commute Tax-Free on Uber or Lyft?

The growing prevalence of the Zika virus in the United States has already presented a number of hurdles for employers striving to create a safe and healthy workplace environment for their employees.  These concerns are more immediate than ever.  The recent and continuing outbreak in Florida and the emergence of state-to-state transmission within the U.S. reinforce the need for employers to stay informed of best practices for minimizing workplace health risks without overstepping critical legal boundaries between employer and employee.

Continue Reading Addressing Zika’s Continued Threat to the Workplace

Employer-sponsored group health plans and health insurance issuers (or carriers) are subject to information reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the obligation to report taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) of covered employees and their spouses and dependents. But how should employers and carriers respond when notified that a TIN is either missing or incorrect? The regulators have on more than one occasion provided an answer, most recently in a proposed regulation issued July 29, 2016 and published in the Federal Register on August 2, 2016. This post endeavors to explain how employers and carriers ought to handle missing or incorrect TINs under these proposed rules.

Continue Reading ACA Reporting on Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, AIRTN500 Error Messages, and Incorrect and Missing Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs)—What’s an Employer to Do?

The Ninth Circuit recently held that Section 304 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX 304) allows for a clawback of certain CEO and CFO compensation regardless of whether the clawback was triggered by the personal misconduct of such officers. District courts have reached this conclusion before, but the Ninth Circuit appears to be the first circuit to adopt such a view.  The Ninth Circuit also held that Rule 13a-14 of the Securities Exchange Act (Rule 13a-14) provides the SEC with a cause of action against a CEO and CFO who certify false or misleading statements. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Holds that SOX 304 Clawback Applies to Executives that are Not at Fault

The Department of Labor’s new overtime rules take effect December 1, 2016, and employers across the country are carefully reviewing and modifying their compensation and payroll practices in anticipation.  As part of this preparation, employers must consider whether and how any changes to their compensation structures will affect their employee benefit plans. This post examines some of the employee benefits issues that employers should be considering as the December 1 deadline approaches.

Continue Reading Employee Benefits and the New Overtime Rules

In a setback to private colleges and universities, the National Labor Relations Board ruled on August 23, 2016 that student assistants have unionization and collective bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act. In so ruling, the Board reversed its 2004 decision in Brown University, in which it held that graduate students are not employees under the NLRA, and therefore do not have unionization rights.  The immediate effect of the new Columbia University holding is that graduate and undergraduate student assistants will be able to unionize. The far-reaching decision has the potential to transform the student assistant-university relationship, as well as the collegiate learning environment.

While graduate student unions are commonplace at many public colleges and universities (as students’ unionization and collective bargaining rights at public institutions are governed by state law), the Columbia decision expands unionization and collective bargaining rights to student assistants at private colleges and universities, including to undergraduate student assistants and to student assistants who receive research funding from external grants.  This decision – which fundamentally injects NLRA considerations into the relationship between student and university – has important implications for private colleges and universities and their employment of student assistants.

Continue Reading National Labor Relations Board Grants Student Assistants the Right to Unionize at Private Colleges and Universities

Our sister blog, Immigration Law, has written an article entitled, Immigration Relief for Foreign Entrepreneurs, which provides an overview of the proposed USCIS Entrepreneur Rule  to be published in the Federal Register shortly. This post examines the potential implications of the rule for non-U.S. entrepreneurs who own at least 15% of a startup that has received significant funding from U.S. investors. The rule would offer the beneficiaries “Parole” status and immediate eligibility to work in the U.S.

We reported in a recent post on proposed regulations dealing with, among other things, the treatment of hospital indemnity or other fixed indemnity insurance products in the group market. This post takes a closer look at the future of these products under the proposed rules and in light of a recent case, Central United Life v. Burwell, which struck down a final Department of Health and Human Services regulation requiring policyholders to certify that they had Affordable Care Act (ACA)-complaint minimum essential coverage in addition to fixed indemnity coverage for the latter to qualify as an excepted benefit. While the regulation in issue in Central United Life governed the individual market, the case’s reasoning could inform the final regulations governing hospital and fixed Indemnity policies in the group market.

We conclude that, in the absence of some significant changes to the proposed regulations, the market for hospital and fixed Indemnity policies is headed for some upheaval.

Continue Reading Hospital and Fixed Indemnity Policies; Excepted Benefits; Supplemental Coverage under Recently Proposed Treasury Regulations; and Central United Life v. Burwell