On December 12, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued a final rule that significantly revised its procedures for union elections. The new rule imposes additional obligations on employers while simultaneously drastically reducing the amount of time to prepare for the election proceedings.
On December 11, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled employees can use their employer’s email systems to communicate with each other regarding the terms and conditions of their employment and self-organization. The “use of email for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must presumptively be permitted by employers who have chosen to give employees access to their email systems.” This ruling overturns 2007 NLRB precedent established by Register Guard, 351 NLRB 110 (2007), enfd. in relevant part and remanded sub nom. Guard Publishing v. NLRB, 571 F.3d 53 (D.C. Cir. 2009).
On January 1, 2015, the following revised recording and reporting requirements adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on September 11, 2014, go into effect.
On December 8, 2014, the U.S. Senate confirmed Lauren McFerran (“McFerran”) to the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). A nominee of President Obama, McFerran currently serves as the Chief Labor Counsel for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (“HELP Committee”). She will replace pro-union Board Member Nancy J. Schiffer, whose term expires on December 16, 2014. With McFerran’s confirmation, the NLRB will continue to have a 3-2 Democratic majority for, at least, the next several months. Her confirmation is a win for organized labor. Had the Senate not confirmed McFerran when Schiffer’s term expired, the NLRB would have been at a 2-2 deadlock, with two members from each political party.
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently granted certiorari
in a case in which the Appellate Division ruled that language in an employment application that shortened the statute of limitations created an enforceable contract. We previously reported on the Appellate Division’s decision here
On July 21, 2014, President Obama, via Executive Order, charged the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) with updating its regulations to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. On December 3, 2014, the OFCCP announced a Final Rule, applying to federal contractors, that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classifications that already are protected, such as race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. All of these protections apply both to active employees and to job applicants. The newest regulations regarding sexual orientation and gender identity are effective 120 days after the official publication of the Final Rule, and will apply to all applicable contracts modified or entered into after that date.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued its Fiscal Year 2014 Performance and Accountability Report (“the Report”), detailing the Agency’s accomplishments during the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014. Overall, the number of charge filings and monetary recoveries by the EEOC are down compared to FY 2013, but the Report describes the EEOC’s increased focus on systematic enforcement.
A New York federal judge has refused to dismiss a putative class action alleging that Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company engaged in alienage discrimination when it rejected a Mexican-born applicant for an internship position because he was neither a U.S. citizen nor a legal permanent resident, even though he was legally authorized to work in the United States.
On November 4, 2014, voters in four states approved increases to minimum wage rates that will take effect over the next few years. Alaska voted to raise the minimum wage from $7.75 to $9.75 by 2016. Arkansas voted to raise the minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 by 2017. Nebraska voted to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 by 2016. South Dakota voted to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 next year, with future adjustments for inflation.
On November 4, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of the Treasury (including the Internal Revenue Service) (the “Departments”) released guidance
advising that health plans offered by large employers that don’t provide coverage for inpatient hospital services do not provide “minimum value” under Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations. As a result, employees who are offered these “skinny plans” will be eligible to receive premium tax credits if they elect to obtain coverage through the federal or state insurance exchanges established under the ACA. Employers who fail to offer plans with “minimum value” will be subject to a penalty of $3,000 per year for each employee who purchases coverage through an exchange and receives a federal subsidy.