The Fourth Circuit recently ruled that a general contractor was the joint employer of employees of its subcontractor for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Salinas v. Commercial Interiors, Inc. has broad implications for the wage and overtime responsibilities of employers located within the Fourth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over appeals from federal courts located in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
On February 16, 2017, the New York State Industrial Board of Appeals invalidated and revoked the NYS Department of Labor regulations we wrote about previously (and updated here) governing payment of wages by direct deposit or payroll debit card. The regulations were scheduled to take effect on March 7, 2017.
A recent report from the nation’s top actuaries takes a sobering look at the challenges policy makers face in creating a viable individual (i.e., non-group) health insurance market—a critical component of any plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Published by the American Academy of Actuaries, the report, entitled An Evaluation of the Individual Health Insurance Market and Implications of Potential Changes outlines, without a hint of partisanship, the necessary conditions for a sustainable individual market, examines the extent to which those conditions are currently being satisfied, and discusses the implications of proposed changes to either improve the ACA insurance market reforms or (as is most likely the case) replace them with an alternative approach.
The paper offers an unvarnished explanation of the impact of the relevant actuarial principles that informed the ACA and that must be negotiated in the process of its replacement. Any policy maker hoping to expand (or at least to expand access to) health insurance coverage, control rising health care costs, and increase the quality of medical outcomes—the three goals of the ACA—would be well advised to read this paper. The actuarial principles expounded in the paper appear to transcend law and politics and any ACA replacement plan that fails to take them in account may face significant, if not insurmountable, hurdles in achieving its objective.
The New York State Department of Labor has adopted regulations clarifying employers’ rights and obligations when implementing policies that limit the discussion of wages in the workplace. Under New York Labor Law section 194(4), an employer may not prohibit employees from discussing wages, but may establish “reasonable workplace and workday limitations on the time, place and manner for inquiries about, discussion of, or the disclosure of wages.” The DOL’s new regulations provide guidance on the permissible scope of policies that limit wage discussions as well as the notice employers must provide to employees about such policies.
UPDATE: On February 8, 2017, the Supreme Court announced that it would delay until its October 2017 term oral arguments in the consolidated cases concerning the enforceability of class arbitration waivers in employment agreements. (This updates our Blogpost dated Jan. 31, 2017.)
Many anticipate that Judge Gorsuch will have been confirmed by the Senate by then, which likely explains the Supreme Court’s decision to delay oral argument. Because the Court granted certiorari based upon a Circuit split, it presumably hopes to avoid a possible 4-4 vote by the current Justices, which would permit the various Circuit Court rulings to stand, leaving the matter unresolved nationally.
While we expect that Justice Gorsuch, a reputed strict constructionist, will in effect be a pro arbitration judge, his questions during oral argument will offer a glimpse of how he might decide the particular issues presented here concerning employment class arbitration.
SEC Acting Chairman Michael S. Piwowar issued a public statement on February 6, 2017 requesting input on any unexpected challenges that companies have experienced as they prepare for compliance with the CEO pay ratio rule, which will become required disclosure in public company 2018 proxy statements. Piwowar also directed SEC staff to “reconsider the implementation of the rule” based on comments submitted.
This public statement and request for comments is a first step in considering changes to the rule, as part of the Republican Party’s effort to modify or roll back certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd Frank). Any SEC modifications to the CEO pay ratio rule would take time to implement and may be challenged. The easiest route to prevent its implementation would be for Congress to repeal this provision of Dodd Frank.
For our sibling blog ADR: Advice from the Trenches, my colleagues Kate Beattie and Don Davis have authored an analysis of employee class action waivers now that the Supreme Court has agreed to take up the issue this term. For our prior analyses of class action waivers, see our prior Employment Matters posts on this topic.
Our colleagues over at the Privacy & Security Matters blog wrote a really good piece entitled “It’s Tax Time – Don’t be Phished,” which guides employers on how to avoid phishing scams during this tax season. It’s a must read because the targets of these scams are HR and payroll departments, and employer awareness is necessary not only to protect employees, but also because responding to one of these scam emails constitutes a reportable data breach under state laws. Employers could have significant liability for failure to provide notice to employees and/or state regulators (where required).
This morning Punxsutawney Phil told us that we are facing six more weeks of winter. Great. We thought it served as a good opportunity to remind employers of the importance of establishing inclement weather policies that are compliant with wage and hour laws for both exempt and non-exempt employees. Here is a quick, yet helpful, Q&A for your reading pleasure:
In October, we wrote about the new NYSDOL regulations for employers who use direct deposit and/or payroll debit cards to pay their employees. The regulations take effect on March 7, 2017 – just about a month from now – and they impose a host of new rules on employers, including the requirement to provide notice and obtain consent from employees who elect to receive wages by direct deposit or payroll debit card.