On November 1, 2017 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched its new public portal to allow individuals to quickly and directly submit inquiries and requests for intake interviews to the EEOC.  Will online access to the EEOC’s intake and inquiry process lead to an increase in discrimination charges?  While that remains to be seen, the new portal undoubtedly provides employees with faster direct access to the EEOC.

Continue Reading Will the EEOC’s New Online Complaint Filing Portal Lead to a Spike in Discrimination Complaints?

The Internal Revenue Service has for some time made available a comprehensive set of Questions & Answers covering the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer shared responsibility rules. (These are the rules that are codified in Section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code, the compliance with which is reported on IRS Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, etc.) Entitled, “Questions and Answers on Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions Under the Affordable Care Act,” this web-based resource provided generally useful information about how the rules worked. Until recently, however, the IRS’ Questions and Answers merely said that the IRS “expects to publish guidance of general applicability describing the employer shared responsibility payment procedures in the Internal Revenue Bulletin before sending any letters to ALEs [Applicable Large Employers] regarding the 2015 calendar year” (Q&A 57). On November 2, that changed. This post explains what happened, and what it means for employers.

Continue Reading IRS (Quietly) Announces Procedures for the Assessment and Payment of Excise Taxes under the Affordable Care Act’s Employer Shared Responsibility Rules

As a reminder, the NYC law prohibiting employers and their agents from inquiring about or relying on an applicant’s salary history goes into effect today.

This means that as of today, employers cannot:

  • Ask for current salary or salary history on an employment application;
  • Ask about an applicant’s current or past salary (including wages, benefits, and other compensation);
  • Ask an applicant’s current or former employer or a staffing or recruiting agency for information related to an applicant’s current or past salary;
  • Search public records or the internet to find or verify an applicant’s current or past salary;
  • Rely on information about an applicant’s current or prior salary to set compensation.

We previously wrote about the new law here and here. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to your employment counsel for further guidance.

As 2017 starts to wind down, Massachusetts employers should start reviewing and revising their employment policies and practices so they are prepared for the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which goes into effect on April 1, 2018 and requires employers with six or more employees to provide written notice to their employees of their right to be free from pregnancy discrimination.

Continue Reading MA Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Goes Into Effect April 1, 2018

On October 13th, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing various federal agencies to consider how to achieve three administration health reform objectives: (1) expand access to Association Health Plans (AHPs); (2) increase the current limits on short-term health insurance; and (3) allow wider use of employer health reimbursement arrangements so employees can buy coverage on their own in the individual market. This post considers what regulatory actions are necessary to accomplish the first objective—expanded access to AHPs.

Continue Reading Expanding Association Health Plans—Which Agencies Need to do What

In recent weeks, the Trump Administration has been considering allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines and expanding access to “Association Health Plans” (AHPs) that could take economic advantage of cross-border purchasing. President Trump is expected to issue an executive order this week to make that happen without legislation.

This post addresses the key issue of whether the administration has the authority under existing law to act on its own initiative, and in doing so, it will address the seminal legal issues affecting AHPs under federal and state law.  As explained below, we conclude that the administration has some—and perhaps even ample—authority to act without Congress, and that any legal constraints will depend on how the AHPs are structured.

Continue Reading Association Health Plans—Can The Trump Administration Expand Access Without Congress?

Beginning on October 31st, New York City employers will be prohibited from inquiring about or relying on salary history during the hiring process. As a reminder, this ban makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, employment agency, or employee or agent of the employer to: (1) inquire about the salary history of an applicant; or (2) rely on salary history of an applicant to determine salary, benefits, or other compensation for such applicant during the hiring process. Employers should revise their hiring processes in order to comply with the new law as soon as possible.

Recently, the New York City Commission on Human Rights released guidance regarding the ban on salary history inquiries in the form of two “Fact Sheets.”  Both Fact Sheets answer the same questions, one from the perspective of employers, the other from the perspective of job applicants. The Fact Sheet for Employers provides the following questions and answers:

Continue Reading Reminder: New York City Ban on Salary History Inquiries Takes Effect October 31st

Last month, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Estee Lauder in a Pennsylvania federal court alleging that Estee Lauder’s parental leave policy discriminates against employees on the basis of gender by providing unequal benefits to biological mothers and fathers. What’s notable about this lawsuit is that it involves a policy which, on its face, uses a “primary” and “secondary” caregiver distinction that provides different amounts of leave to employees based on that distinction without regard to their gender – a practice used by many employers in their parental leave policies. This lawsuit has left many employers wondering whether such a policy is at risk of being unlawful. We do not think it is at this time.

Continue Reading What Does the EEOC’s Lawsuit Against Estee Lauder Mean for Parental Leave Policies?

At this writing, the prospects for success of the latest Republican effort to replace the Affordable Care Act appear bleak—but the Graham-Cassidy bill on which the GOP has pinned its last-ditch hopes highlights a major political and policy flashpoint in the fight to repeal, replace, or repair the law: the degree to which states should be free to innovate and experiment by adopting non-standard health insurance product designs in their individual and small group markets. Under current law, there is little flexibility. Proposals abound to change this, but to do so invites consequences with which lawmakers must be prepared to deal—involving complex economic and actuarial issues and fundamental questions regarding the role of the federal government and the states in health care.

This post addresses these issues.

Continue Reading Fractal Geometry, Actuarial Risk, and §1332 Waivers—The Role of the States in Reforming Health Care