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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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21 Aug 2014 Back to School for Michigan Employers – Minimum Wage Increase

  As the kiddies get ready to go back to school, employers too should freshen up on a few items that are about to change in Michigan, including the minimum wage. Back on May 28, we reported on this blog that Michigan had passed The Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, by which the minimum wage will increase from $7.40 to $9.25 per hour over the next four years. The first incremental increase takes effect on September 4, when the minimum wage will increase to $8.15 per…

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15 Aug 2014 When “I Love You” May Be Too Much

  Normally, the words “I love you” make a person feel good, happy, confident and host of other emotions. However, in the employment context, saying these three little words can cause a host of potential issues for both employers and employees. Typically, as employment attorneys, we see these words leading to claims of sexual harassment. But, now it appears saying “I love you” (among other things) also can create a claim of religious discrimination.   In June of this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity…

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15 Aug 2014 It Depends: The Top 3 Inherently Gray Areas of Employment Law LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Fact-specific.   Case by case.   These are just two of the terms that stand for one of the frustrating (for employers) truths of many areas of employment law:  there are few black and white answers. There are endless shades of gray, and in honor of this week’s letter of the law (G), we recognize three common gray areas and some specific questions that must be asked when addressing situations under each. The fact that there are so many questions that need to be answered…

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14 Aug 2014 Could Corporate Wellness Programs Land A Business in Hot Water?

The EEOC recently filed suit against an employer after it established a self-improvement program based on the “Onionhead” belief system.   The Onionhead belief system is related to the Harnessing Happiness Foundation. The Harnessing Happiness Foundation is a “501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to emotional knowledge and intelligence, conflict resolution and life handling skills for all ages.” The Foundation’s website offers the following description of the belief system: “Onionhead is part of Harnessing Happiness. We used an onion as a medium to express peeling our feelings,…

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13 Aug 2014 Notice of San Francisco’s Fair Chance Ordinance Required as of August 13, 2014

  Companies located or doing business in San Francisco that have a total of 20 or more employees worldwide should prepare to provide notice of San Francisco’s Fair Chance Ordinance starting today, August 13, 2014. The Fair Chance Ordinance restricts inquiries regarding a job applicant’s criminal history and imposes other related requirements, including that notice be provided to employees and applicants. The required notice, available here, must be posted in a conspicuous place in every San Francisco worksite that is frequently visited by employees or applicants….

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12 Aug 2014 Add New Jersey to the List of “Ban-the-Box” States

  Yesterday, New Jersey joined 12 other states in its enactment of the “ban-the-box” legislation whereby employers will be prohibited from asking job applicants at the outset about their criminal records. Following New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s execution of the Opportunity to Compete Act (Act), New Jersey became the fifth state – in addition of Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island – to impose the “ban-the- box” prohibitions on private-sector employers.   Under the Act, an employer is barred from conducting any pre-application inquiry regarding…

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11 Aug 2014 OFCCP PROPOSES RULE TO COLLECT COMPENSATION DATA FROM FEDERAL CONTRACTORS

  On August 6, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking requiring certain federal contractors to submit an annual Equal Pay Report on employee compensation. Under the proposed rule, Companies that file EEO1 reports, have more than one hundred employees and hold federal contracts or subcontracts worth more than fifty thousand dollars would need to submit an Equal Pay Report each year to the OFCCP. The Equal Pay Report would “provide summary data…

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08 Aug 2014 FMLA AND FITNESS FOR DUTY LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  An employer may require an employee to provide a “fitness for duty” certification when he or she returns from taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), assuring that employees are able to safely perform all job duties when they return to work. Employers should be careful to comply with Department of Labor guidance on such certifications and, where this guidance feels unduly restrictive (which happens), consult with counsel on how best to proceed.  The requirement for certifications should be uniformly applied…

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08 Aug 2014 Ninth Circuit FAAAA Meal and Rest Period Preemption Decision Appealed

  As we discussed here, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled last month in Dilts v. Penske Logistics (Dilts) that California meal and rest period laws are not preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA).  The FAAAA  provides that  “States may not enact or enforce a law . . . related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier . . . with respect to the transportation of property.”  49 U.S.C. § 14501.  In Dilts, while the lower court…

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07 Aug 2014 Illinois Governor Signs Payroll Card Law

  Governor Quinn has signed HB 5622, which amends the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act by recognizing payment of wages via payroll card.   As we previously reported, the law does not go into effect until January 1, 2015. At that time, payment of wages via payroll card will be recognized by Illinois law, subject to a number of requirements.  The requirements include the following: Employers must offer employees the option of receiving wages via cash, check or direct deposit and obtain employees’ voluntary…

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