May 16th may be a significant day for employers across the country. After more than two years of debate, analysis and overall panic from employers across the country, this is the deadline that was widely reported when the final overtime rule would be published by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Don’t panic. As of the time of this posting the final overtime regulations HAVE NOT been published but if it is not today, it is definitely soon. The regulation change will impact the exempt status of employees in virtually every industry and has created one of the most significant challenges to face employers in the last decade. It is high alert time.
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On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) finalized its controversial workplace injury and illness reporting rules.  The new requirements are effective August 10, 2016, with phased-in data submissions beginning in 2017. So why all the fuss about a rule that’s been around since 1971?  Well, under the new rule, all employers who are covered by the recordkeeping regulation and who have 250 or more employees must electronically submit their recordkeeping forms to OSHA. But OSHA didn’t stop there . . . those electronic records of workplace injuries and illnesses will now be posted on OSHA’s website for all to see and review.
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It seems like an odd place to wage a civil rights war, but right now across the country there is a serious debate over public bathroom use. The LGBT community, backed by the U.S. Department of Labor (OSHA), has taken the position that a person should be able to use the bathroom of the gender to which he/she identifies, regardless of their anatomy. In response, the Minnesota-based retailer Target is now transitioning to gender-neutral restrooms. Not everyone agrees with this position. (more…)

In late March 2016, five star players on the U.S. women’s national soccer team filed a complaint with the EEOC, alleging that they are paid 40% less than the U.S. men’s national soccer team. The women’s U.S. soccer team is currently ranked number one in the world and have won three World Cup championships (including in 2015) and four Olympic golds . . . and let’s just be kind and say the men’s team is not quite as successful. The women’s team even generates more revenue – $20 million more than the men’s team in 2015, yet the apparent pay disparity still exists. This claim comes at a key time when the issue of equal pay is making headlines and has become a hot-button issue in the presidential race. (more…)

Employers who pay attention might worry that they have missed something when they see that the current Form I-9 has an expiration date of March 31. But just like some items in your refrigerator or pantry, the Form I-9 for verification of identity and authorization of every new hire is actually OK to use past the printed expiration date, for now. USCIS planned to timely update the form, but their new complicated form has gotten tied up in a prolonged notice and comment process and is not ready for consumption. So U.S. employers should keep using the facially “expired” I-9 form from www.uscis.gov/I-9 until further notice from USCIS and us.

The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled that Chipotle Mexican Grill violated the law when it forced an employee to delete certain posts on his Twitter account. James Kennedy had tweeted some unflattering statements about the Havertown, Pennsylvania restaurant where he worked, including complaints about having to work on snow days and about the hourly wage. In days gone by, Kennedy’s tweets may have gone unnoticed, but Chipotle has a national social media strategist, whose job duties include monitoring employees’ social media postings. (Depending on the employees, this could be a very interesting job.) The strategist saw Kennedy’s tweets and concluded that they violated Chipotle’s social media policy, so she contacted the regional manager for Havertown, who then confronted Kennedy with a copy of the policy and asked that he remove the posts. Kennedy ultimately agreed. (more…)

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has published answers to some frequently asked questions about an individual’s right to access identifiable health information. (more…)

The news of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death at a hunting lodge in Texas on February 13th rocked the country over Valentine’s weekend. The timing and suddenness of the staunch conservative’s death during President Obama’s last year in office opens up a host of issues and questions to be resolved. Justice Scalia’s absence on the Supreme Court will affect several high profile cases, resulting in significant impacts on several different segments of the population. In losing a frequent fifth vote for the conservative end of the ideological spectrum, the Supreme Court will be left with an ideological tie of a 4-4 split between conservatives and liberals. (more…)

Last week, a federal jury (after only 3 hours of deliberation) awarded a Walmart female pharmacist . . . wait for it . . . $31 MILLION! Maureen McPadden, a 13-year Wal-Mart pharmacist, brought an action alleging retaliatory termination, disability discrimination, and sex discrimination.  McPadden called the verdict, “a message that the little guy has a voice, that Wal-Mart did something wrong.” (more…)