As you know from the August 2, 2018 Higher Education Law Report, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (“USCIS”) policy memorandum dramatically changing the way USCIS calculates unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors in F, J and M nonimmigrant status and their dependents took effect on August 9, 2018. Very late in the evening of August 9, 2018, USCIS released a revised final policy memorandum which supersedes the prior one and addresses unlawful presence for F and M nonimmigrants with timely filed or approved reinstatement applications and J nonimmigrants who are reinstated by the U.S. Department of State, the agency that administers the J-1 exchange visitor program.
August 9, 2018, the effective date of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (“USCIS”) policy memorandum that dramatically changes the way USCIS will calculate unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors in F, J and M nonimmigrant status and their dependents, is just around the corner. As such, it is essential for Designated School Officials (“DSO”) on college and university campuses to remind nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors of the upcoming policy change to ensure that they do not violate it and jeopardize their stay in the U.S.
Every employer wants to promote and sustain a safe workplace. One way in which employers try to accomplish this goal is to conduct background checks on its applicants or new hires to assess whether they might pose a risk to other employees, customers, or other individuals they might encounter during their employment. However, when inquiring about applicants’ criminal histories or arrest records and when basing employment decisions on information obtained through background checks, employers should make sure that they are in compliance with relevant federal, state, and local laws.
Administrators of qualified retirement plans have always had to deal with the problem of “missing participants” – that is, terminated vested participants for whom the administrator does not have a current mailing address or other contact information, and participants who refuse to respond to communications from the administrator. This problem frequently comes to light when a terminated participant nears retirement age or otherwise becomes entitled to receive a plan distribution, because at that time the administrator must contact the participant about distribution options, beneficiary designations, and other matters. And when a terminated participant approaches age 70½, the necessity of locating him or her becomes more urgent, because plan distributions generally must begin shortly after that age is reached.
Besides being an administrative problem, the inability to locate terminated participants can represent legal risks. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has asserted that a plan’s inability to locate terminated participants can constitute a breach of duty on the part of the plan’s fiduciaries, in violation of ERISA. Lost or missing participants can also lead to plan disqualification risks; for example, if “required minimum distributions,” mandated under the Internal Revenue Code, cannot be made.
The task-based business model of the gig economy is transformative in every industry affected, from ride-hailing (Uber, Lyft), to housing rental (Airbnb), to food delivery (Uber Eats, Grubhub), to professional services (Upwork, Guru). There seemingly is no end to the potential competitive disruption of gig entrepreneurs. This expansion continues to exert significant pressure on the fundamental question: are those who complete the tasks or provide the services employees or contractors? The question is neither new nor novel. The answer is pivotal to the success of the businesses and the expectations of the service providers and business owners.
On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court struck down mandatory “agency” or “fair share” fees for public sector employees who decline to become union members. In the decision, Janus v. AFSCME, the Court held that an Illinois statute compelling public employees who choose not to be members of a union to pay agency fees to the union that represents them violates the First Amendment, because it requires those employees to financially support an organization which they did not join voluntarily and whose ideas and speech they may disagree with.
Mark Janus, an Illinois child welfare worker, decided not to join the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees -- the union that represents his public sector co-workers. Under Illinois law, however, Janus is still required to pay fees to the union. These fees are known as “fair-share” fees, a label which refers to the Illinois law requiring the union to “fairly” represent Janus and all of his co-workers, whether or not they are union members. For this representation, non-union members like Janus must pay a “fair-share” fee,” which is approximately 78 percent of the full union dues, and in Janus’ case, amounts to $23.48 per pay period.
Janus has objected to the payment of this fee, and his case has reached the United States Supreme Court. A ruling by the Court in Janus v. AFSCME will be released very soon, and that ruling is expected to strike down the Illinois “fair share” law and similar state laws (including the law in New York) because they violate the United States Constitution.
As the end of the Supreme Court term in June approaches, Court-watchers watch their Twitter and news feeds on Mondays and Thursdays with bated breath. And this past Monday, the news did not disappoint. In a close 5-4 decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, the Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act unequivocally provides parties the ability to enter into arbitration agreements requiring individual arbitration proceedings, such that employees waive their ability to bring or join a class action. Likewise, the Court rejected the employees’ argument that Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act prohibits employees from waiving such class action rights.
The unveiling of New York State’s 2019 budget made it clear that the state has maintained its focus on curbing sexual harassment in the workplace. Included in the legislation, which was delivered to the Governor on April 2, 2018, are numerous new requirements impacting both private and public employers.
On April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court held, in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, that service advisors at automobile dealerships are exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Court was divided 5-4 on this issue, with Justice Thomas writing the opinion on behalf of the majority and Justice Ginsburg writing the opinion on behalf of the 4 dissenting Justices. The Court reversed a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision, which found that service advisors were non-exempt employees who were eligible for overtime pay.