What is happening in employment law? We will be providing you with quick employment law updates on a bi-monthly basis in a new series called “The Bubbler.” It will let you know what’s what and who’s who in the continually-evolving, ever-important, hard-to-keep-track-of employment law world. The Bubbler delivers current events and other important news to our readers without the time or the interest to piece through the recent legislation, the ever-growing release of regulations and other agency guidance and the lengthy court decisions. We’re your colleagues at the water cooler who tell you just enough to pique your interest (but then provide links to satisfy your curiosity). Enjoy!
Short of a successful (but highly unlikely) appeal, the Obama-era overtime rule is now officially no longer. That rule would have required employers to pay employees a little more than $47,000 annually to qualify under one of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s white collar exemptions. The rule was already in limbo when a Texas Federal district court judge temporarily prevented its enforcement just before Thanksgiving last year, and now that same judge has struck down the rule permanently just before another major American holiday.
On August 1, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law H. 3822, “An Act Further Regulating Employer Contributions to Health Care” (the “Act”). The purpose of the Act is to shore up the finances of the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program and its Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which in Massachusetts are combined into a single program called MassHealth. MassHealth covers about 1.9 million low income, minor and disabled Massachusetts residents, and it costs about $15.6 billion annually.
Spurred by a recent change in a Massachusetts wage and hour regulation, plaintiffs’ attorneys are aggressively pursuing class action lawsuits seeking unpaid overtime premium pay on behalf of car salespeople across the Commonwealth. In Massachusetts, successful wage and hour lawsuits entitle plaintiffs to not only unpaid wages, but also automatic treble damages (i.e., three times owed wages) and a payment of their reasonable attorney’s fees. As a result, this recent trend poses significant risks to Massachusetts car dealers.
Last week, lawyers for the federal government told an appeals court that the Department of Labor plans to revise the currently-blocked overtime rule issued during the Obama administration last year. But it won’t do so, it said, until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals confirms that it has the right to set that threshold.
The Paid Family Leave Act will provide, when fully implemented, employees in the state of New York with up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave to (1) care for a family member (including a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, spouse or domestic partner) with a serious health condition; (2) bond with the employee’s newborn or newly-placed adoptive or foster child during the first 12 months following birth or placement; or (3) address any qualifying exigency relating to a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent who is serving on active military duty. The Act will be funded by employee contributions and, when fully implemented, the employee will be entitled to income replacement of up to 2/3rds of the state average weekly salary.
January 1, 2018 was established as the date upon which benefit payments begin but the Act allowed employers to begin taking deductions as of July 1, 2017 to offset the cost of acquiring the mandated insurance policies.
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board recently revised its proposed regulations (described in our previous blog post here) to the law. The revisions were in response to over 100 written comments. Here is a quick summary of those revisions:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently gave a candid assessment of the chances of getting an Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement bill through the Senate, saying “I don’t know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment.” That succinctly captures the political dilemma. There has long been broad bipartisan agreement that the nation’s health care system was in need of repair. Something had to be done to contain rapidly rising health care costs, increase the quality of medical outcomes, and to expand coverage. But there was little or no bipartisan agreement on how to do it. Indeed, no major health care initiative since Medicare was enacted in 1965 has enjoyed true bipartisan support.
In a previous post we discussed the significant new obligations New York City’s “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” imposes on employers that retain the services of freelance independent contractors. On May 15, these requirements became effective for all freelance contracts executed on or after that date. Some of the law’s key provisions include the requirements that freelance services in excess of $800 be detailed in written contracts and that employers provide payment for freelance services within 30 days, and a prohibition on retaliation against freelancers who exercise their rights under the law.
The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Labor Policy Standards has issued some limited initial guidance on the law but, as we discussed in our earlier post, numerous questions remain concerning the law’s practical implications. Please stay tuned to Employment Matters for updates as we continue to monitor this law’s impact on companies that rely on freelance workers.
In today’s global economy, the landscape surrounding immigration issues is becoming increasingly complex. Penalties for violations of federal and state immigration rules extend beyond civil fines to more serious consequences, including but not limited to, criminal liability. Now more than ever companies must stay ahead of the latest in immigration law and compliance. In a three-part webinar series, Mintz Levin’s Immigration Practice aims to arm employers with best practices and tools regarding compliance in key areas of immigration law.
Part I: I-9 Compliance and Best Practices — Monday, May 8, 2017
Part II: E-Verify Compliance and Best Practices — Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Part III: Wages, Recordkeeping, and Job Changes – Compliance in Employment-Based Immigration — Thursday, June 22, 2017
Don’t wait, register for all or any combination of webinars in the Immigration Webinar Series starting May 8, 2017!
We had such a spirited panel discussion on pay equity at our Third Annual Employment Law Summit recently that we wanted to follow up with a post addressing the current state of play on pay equity legislation, particularly with respect to salary history disclosure laws. This is a rapidly advancing area of the law in which we continue to see new developments.