In a recently issued opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (encompassing New York, Connecticut, and Vermont) held that two posthumously entered domestic relations orders were valid qualified domestic relations orders (“QDROs”) under ERISA that properly assigned plan funds to the ex-wife of a deceased participant, despite the claims of the participant’s surviving spouse to survivor benefits under the plans. A valid QDRO is one of the few exceptions to the ERISA prohibition on the assignment or alienation of plan benefits.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and its state law counterparts’ minimum wage and overtime requirements
do not apply to employers with respect to “independent contractors” or “1099 workers
;” that is, those workers who provide services to an employer under a contract but are not “employed” by the employer. This can incentivize employers to misclassify employees as independent contractors because of the up-front cost savings.
As we previously posted here
, the New Jersey Assembly introduced a bill last year that would require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Under the proposed bill, employers with less than ten employees would be required to permit employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked and up to 40 hours in total each year. Employers with ten or more employees would also be required to permit employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked and up to 72 hours in total each year. Employers would be prohibited from taking any retaliatory actions against an employee who uses sick leave or complains about an employer engaging in misconduct with respect to the leave entitlement. The Assembly took no action on the bill after it advanced out of the Assembly Budget Committee last December, but the New Jersey Senate has now advanced a similar version of the bill.
We previously wrote about a New Jersey Appellate Division decision
upholding a criminal indictment against Ivonne Saavedra for stealing documents from her employer to support her discrimination and whistleblower lawsuit.
On June 23, 2015, the Supreme Court of New Jersey affirmed the Appellate Division decision, thereby preserving the criminal charges against Saavedra.
On May 18, 2015, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held in Tibble v. Edison International that in addition to the fiduciary duty to exercise prudence when initially selecting a plan’s investment options, a fiduciary also has a separate continuing duty to prudently monitor investments and remove imprudent ones.
The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., No. 14-86, 2015 U.S. LEXIS 3718 (U.S. June 1, 2015), that an employer must not only accommodate an applicant's religious belief or practice, but also ask whether a suspected conflict between a work rule and religion in fact exists if the applicant does not raise the issue.
On April 29, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that courts have limited authority to review whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has satisfied its obligation to attempt to conciliate matters prior to filing a lawsuit.
On May 6, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act, which bans employers in New York City from using applicants' and employees' credit histories in hiring and employment decisions. City Council members who supported the bill, labor unions, and activist organizations have long argued that reliance on credit checks discriminates against minorities and low-income New Yorkers with poor credit histories, and prevents such individuals from improving their credit status. The law amends the city's Human Rights Law and broadly defines credit history to include credit scores, credit reports, details about credit accounts, late or missed payments, charged-off debts, bankruptcies, judgments, or liens. The city joins 10 states and Chicago in banning employer credit checks. The law takes effect on September 3, 2015.
On April 16, 2015, the New York City Council approved the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act, which would ban employers in New York City from using applicants’ and employees’ credit histories in hiring and employment decisions. Council members who support the bill, labor unions, and activist organizations have long argued that reliance on credit checks discriminates against minorities and low-income New Yorkers with poor credit histories. The bill, which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign in the coming weeks, would amend the city’s Human Rights Law to make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for most employers to request or use applicants’ or employees’ consumer credit history in making hiring and employment decisions. The bill would take effect 120 days after enactment.