On March 23, 2016, the Department of Labor issues its new “persuader” rule which has been the matter of much controversy since 2011. The persuader rule is designed to implement Section 203(b) of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959. A prior rule existed, but the Obama Department of Labor thought that it did not go far enough (translation: did not favor organized labor sufficiently – writer’s opinion).
It is becoming increasingly difficult for Illinois employers to keep up with the numerous Illinois leave laws. Here is one you may not know about – The Illinois’ Employee Blood Donation Leave Act. There is no corresponding federal law.
Employers should be aware that effective January 3, 2016, the Illinois Unemployment Compensation Act, while retaining the previous definition of misconduct for which former employees can be disqualified from benefits, adds eight new grounds for misconduct in work-related circumstances.
As we previously reported, the minimum salary amount for an exempt employee since 2004 was $455/week or $23,660/annually. On July 6, 2015, the DOL announced its proposed rule which, in part, would mandate that employers have to pay an exempt employee a minimum salary of $970.00/week, or $50,440/annually.
Under the FMLA, an employer must not –
Interfere with, restrain or deny the exercise of, or attempt to exercise, an employee’s FMLA rights [29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1)], or
Discharge or discriminate against an individual for opposing any unlawful practice under the FMLA [29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(2) and (b)].
OSHA administrator David Michaels has stated, “It’s time for hospitals and the health care industry to make the changes necessary to protect their workers.” Workers’ injury rates at nursing and residential care facilities are more than twice that of the overall private industry, and hospital workers face a rate nearly as high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Therefore, OSHA has decided to target hospital and nursing facility for inspections on hazards that contribute to the industry’s high injury rate. To address these injuries, an internal OSHA memorandum directs compliance officers to target hospitals and nursing facilities and inspect the following hazards:
The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed the biggest overhaul to U.S. overtime law in history. Public comments on the proposal expired on September 4, 2015. The final regulations are expected to be released by the end of 2015, with an effective date in spring or summer 2016. The Proposed Rule focused primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for white collar workers to be exempt. Specifically, the DOL proposes to:
On August 28, 2015, St. Louis Mayor Slay signed a bill, approved by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, into law as Ordinance 70078 that would have raised the minimum wage in St. Louis City from the current rate of $7.65 per hour. Ordinance 70078 was set to increase the current minimum wage to $8.25 per hour on October 15, 2015, with additional increases taking place on a yearly basis – $9.00 on January 1, 2016, $10.00 in 2017, and $11.00 on January 1, 2018. In 2019 the ordinance provided for increases to the minimum wage based on the rate of inflation. The ordinance states its purpose was “for the preservation of public peace, health and safety.” It expressly identified the intent to address local concerns for the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the City of St. Louis.
In a case straight from “Bad Grandpa” the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals further confirmed an employer’s obligation to provide a work environment free of all forms of discrimination and harassment. In Chavonya Watson v. Heartland Health Laboratories, the 8th Circuit “assumed” for sake of analysis that an employer can be held liable under the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) for harassment by a third-party who is not an employee. Ultimately, however, the 8th Circuit found that the incidents of harassments did not rise to the level of “hostile work environment” and affirmed summary judgment on behalf of the employer.
On August 27, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board issued a long-anticipated decision in the case of Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc. By a three-to-two vote the Board reconsidered its test for when employers are considered joint employers, thus triggering bargaining obligations for an employer which may not be the direct employer of a bargaining unit.