Management Update
Volume 4, Issue 7
July 2015
 
Proposed Federal Overtime Pay Regulations Narrow White-Collar Exemptions

The Federal Department of Labor recently released a proposed rule that would dramatically decrease the number of jobs that qualify for the "white-collar" exemptions under the Federal Wage & Hour law. The DOL's long-awaited proposal would increase the salary threshold for "white collar" employees who are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime requirements from $23,660 to $50,440 annually, meaning that all employees who currently qualify under the "executive," "administrative," and "professional" exemptions would no longer be exempt unless they are paid an annual salary of at least $50,440. This rule, which would take effect in 2016, also will affect employees who are considered exempt"computer employees" and "outside salespeople." 
 
Impact of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling on Employers

With the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to legalize same-sex marriage, employers will need to reevaluate their benefits plans. The ruling granted full Fourteenth Amendment rights to same-sex couples, including all financial benefits afforded to opposite-sex couples. Employers will have to ensure they are complying with the FMLA, as well as conforming to any EEOC regulations regarding the sexual orientation of potential and existing employees to avoid legal action. Employee handbooks will need to be updated to reflect any policy changes.  For those employers already providing domestic partnership benefits, changes may be minimal. In terms of religious objections to same-sex marriages, employers are limited in their benefits offerings. If they choose to self-insure their companies and deny same-sex couples benefits, they will be open to discrimination suits. 
 
Muslim Woman Wins Religious Accommodation Suit Against Abercrombie & Fitch 

On June 1, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Samantha Elauf in her lawsuit against popular retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. Elauf claimed the retailer did not hire her due to the hijab she wears in observance of her religious beliefs. After an interview with the store's assistant manager Heather Cooke, Elauf was ultimately not hired. Cooke had discussed Elauf's headscarf with her district manager who told her not to hire Elauf because Abercrombie's "look policy" specifies that headgear is not allowed. According to Title VII, accommodations must be made for those observing religious practices if they do not put undue burden on the employer. Although Elauf did not explain the religious reasons for wearing the headscarf, the Supreme Court ruled that applicants only need to show their "need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer's decision, not that the employer had knowledge of [their] need." The ruling could have a profound effect other businesses with similar "look policies" to Abercrombie. 
 
Macy's Handbook Found to Unlawfully Restrict NLRA Rights

An administrative law judge recently found that the Macy's employee handbook violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA. It was determined the restrictions on release of personal information of employees, including names and home and office contact information was an obvious restriction of employees Section 7 rights to discuss terms of employment with fellow employees and the ability to notify unions of other employees who may be interested in participating in a union. The handbook's restrictions on the use of the Macy's logo could limit employees or a union from using the logo in distributed materials publicizing disputes with the company. The third violation was the handbook's rules requiring employees to notify their human resources representatives before participating in governmental investigations. 
 
OSHA Issues a Transgender Bathroom Usage Guidance
On June 1, 2015 OSHA issued a Best Practices Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers. The Guidance can be found here. In short, the Guidance states that employers should allow the employee in question to determine which restroom provides the "most appropriate and safest option for him-or herself." The guidance also provides some best practices, including that the employer allow, but not require, employees to use single-occupancy gender-neutral facilities and multiple-occupancy gender-neutral facilities with lockable single-occupant stalls. (I suppose we should be grateful that OSHA has not yet recommended multiple-occupant gender-neutral lockable stalls.)To read the full article by partner  Jerry L. Stovall, Jr. see here
 
Why You Should Not Agree to Continue Health Insurance As Part of a Separation Agreement
Employers often agree to continue an employee's health insurance coverage as part of a separation agreement. While this seems like a good idea, it can create significant unintended liability. To read the full article by partner Jerry L. Stovall, Jr. see here
 
Be on the Lookout for Department of Labor's Administrator's Interpretation Clarifying Independent Contractor Status 
On Friday, June 5, 2015, David Wild, the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Dept. of Labor, announced that his office would soon be issuing an "Administrator's Interpretation" intended to "clarify" who qualifies as an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Mr. Wild said that the interpretation would contain a "very clear set of criteria" that would be complimentary to the "economic realities test" that federal courts continue to use in determining whether or not an individual qualifies as an independent contractor or employee. To read the full article by partner Jerry L. Stovall, Jr. see here
 
OFCCP Posts Sample Affirmative Action Plans for Veterans and Persons with Disabilites
The OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) recently posted sample affirmative action plans (AAPs), styled for use by federal contractors with less than 150 employees. The sample AAPs, which can be found here, comply with federal regulations regarding employment of veterans and persons with disabilities. To read the full article by partner Jerry L. Stovall, Jr. see here
 
Management Update Briefings

Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. presents Management Update Briefings, a labor and employment law seminar at convenient locations across the state of Louisiana.
  
 
 

 




 
Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. Labor & Employment Attorneys


john.andrishok@bswllp.com 

225.381.8020

  Rachael M. Coe
rachael.coe@bswllp.com
504.584.5469

 Leo C. Hamilton  

leo.hamilton@bswllp.com

225.381.8056




           

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