NLRB Region Five Rules that Resident Advisors at George Washington University are Employees Who May Unionize
April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017
April 20, 2017
April 11, 2017
March 17, 2017
March 14, 2017
March 12, 2017
On February 22, 2017, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board unveiled proposed regulations concerning the state's new Paid Family Leave (PFL) law. The PFL law was passed as part of the 2016 state budget and will eventually require virtually every New York employer to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave: (1) for the birth, adoption, or placement of a new child; (2) to care for a family member with a serious health condition; or (3) for a qualifying exigency arising from a family member's military service (as defined in the federal Family and Medical Leave Act). This program will be funded through employee payroll deductions. PFL is not intended to cover an employee's own serious health condition; rather, PFL is intended to complement the already existing state disability insurance program. The basics of the PFL law can be found in our earlier blog article on this subject. The Workers' Compensation Board will be accepting comments on the proposed regulations for 45 days from the date of their release -- until April 7. Click here to review the proposed regulations and to access an online link to submit comments. The state also recently launched a website providing information about PFL for employers and employees and set up a new helpline. Notably, however, the details on this new PFL website reflect the program as it would exist under the proposed regulations, meaning the information there is not yet final (despite how it appears). The proposed regulations contain a great deal of detail to digest, but several significant points will immediately catch the attention of employers:
A few other aspects of the proposed regulations will also interest employers. Under the proposed regulations, disability insurance carriers will be required to offer PFL coverage in conjunction with their existing disability insurance policies. Employees who are covered by a disability insurance policy will automatically be covered for purposes of PFL effective January 1, 2018. Carriers who choose to get out of the disability insurance business in New York, so as to avoid administering the PFL insurance program, must notify New York State by the earlier of July 1, 2017 or within thirty days of the date the community rates for premiums are published by the state (or within 180 days of discontinuing coverage, if discontinued after 2018). Employers who are self-insured for disability purposes have the option of either self-insuring for PFL benefits or obtaining alternative coverage. The employer must make the election to self-insure by November 30, 2017. Unionized employers with leave provisions in their collective bargaining agreement that are at least as favorable to employees as the PFL program are exempt from the law. However, it is not clear who will make the determination of whether the CBA’s benefits are sufficiently favorable. Additionally, public employers are only covered if they elect to opt-in. These are just a few highlights. There is much more detail covered in the 48 pages of proposed PFL regulations. Employers should take the time to review these regulations and submit comments to the Workers' Compensation Board on how the proposed provisions will impact their workplace. It is possible that many aspects of the regulations will change between now and when they are finalized. Due to the unknown, we do not recommend that employers begin drafting and revising leave policies on the basis of these proposed regulations. However, we do recommend that employers take an inventory of current leave practices and policies and begin to anticipate how they might need to change. Once the final regulations are published, it will be critical for employers to quickly respond. Among other things, employers will be required to provide written details of how PFL benefits are administered to employees. Those written details will need to reflect the processes set forth in the final PFL regulations. We will continue to analyze these proposed regulations and provide additional updates on how they might impact your workplace. Stay tuned to our blog for further updates.
March 6, 2017
As Yogi Berra once said: “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” Since mid-February, the Trump Administration promised the imminent release of a revised and improved executive order addressing travel ban and refugee admissions. The wait is over. On Monday, March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a new executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” (the new EO). The new EO revokes and replaces Executive Order 13769 (EO 13769), which President Trump signed on January 27, 2017. From the get-go, there was significant confusion surrounding the scope and implementation of EO 13769, immediately followed by numerous legal challenges. On February 9, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a temporary restraining order issued by a lower court, which prohibited the federal government from enforcing any restrictions contained in EO 13769. Unlike EO 13769, which was effective immediately, the new EO allows for a ten-day grace period and will not become effective until 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Similar to its predecessor, the new EO imposes a 90-day “temporary pause” on the entry into the United States of nationals from the following six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Most notably, Iraq is no longer on the list. Nevertheless, the new EO states that Iraqi nationals will be subject to additional scrutiny where they may “have connections with ISIS or other terrorist organizations, or otherwise pose a risk to either national security or public safety.” In an effort to avoid the chaos that ensued following EO 13769, the new EO provides greater clarity on the scope of the travel ban. Specifically, the 90-day travel ban will apply only to those foreign nationals from the six enumerated countries of concern if:
The new EO order is very clear that it does not apply to green card holders, those with validly issued visas, and dual citizens. In addition, the new EO allows for exceptions and individualized assessments to be made by consular and border immigration officers in certain cases. In addition to implementing a revised travel ban, the new EO also addresses the current refugee program. Specifically, the new EO:
Noticeably absent from the new EO is the indefinite ban on the admission of Syrian refugees that appeared in EO 13769. While the headlining topics of the new EO remain focused on travel restrictions and refugee admissions, it is worth noting that the new EO also mandates the following:
Despite the Trump Administration’s efforts to narrowly tailor this newest EO, we anticipate that there will be legal challenges filed by various stakeholders in the coming days and weeks.
March 6, 2017
The revised Regulations of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act (which became effective in March 2014) required Federal contractors and subcontractors to invite applicants and employees to self-identify their disability status using an Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) prescribed form: (1) at the pre-offer stage of the application process, (2) post-offer after an applicant is offered a position but prior to starting work, and (3) by survey of the workforce every 5 years. The required OFCCP Form is Form CC-305; this form cannot be altered or changed. The original Form CC-305 approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB ) expired on 1/31/2017. The OFCCP recently published a notice that the OMB has approved a new Form for another three years. No change was made to the Form except the expiration date. Effective immediately, Federal contractors and subcontractors must either download the renewed form(s) or update their electronic version(s) of the Form to reflect the new expiration date of 1/31/2020. The Form is available in multiple formats and languages and can be obtained from the OFCCP’s website here.
February 24, 2017
February 20, 2017
As we previously reported on this blog, OSHA recently made sweeping changes to its injury and illness reporting rule. The agency delayed enforcement of the rule until December 1, 2016. Many industry advocates were hoping for a reprieve, and several industry groups, including the Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Association of Manufacturers, had filed suit, seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the rule from going into effect. Unfortunately, the injunction was denied and the rule did go into effect on December 1. However, the rule is still being challenged. Interestingly, the incoming administration recently jointly filed a letter with the court along with the plaintiffs, stating that each side planned to move for summary judgment, strongly suggesting that the incoming administration has no plans to revise or revoke the rule. One of the more troubling aspects of the rule was not in the rule itself, but in the preamble to the rule -- OSHA's stated position that it would consider blanket rules that require drug testing of employees after any accident to be unreasonable, i.e., to discourage the reporting of injuries and illnesses. Without announcement, OSHA issued guidance on its position late last year that should ameliorate employers’ concerns. Simply put, employers do not have to have reasonable suspicion of drug use, but reasonable suspicion that drug use could have led to the accident causing illness or injury. OSHA provides the following examples: "Consider the example of a crane accident that injures several employees working nearby but not the operator. The employer does not know the causes of the accident, but there is a reasonable possibility that it could have been caused by operator error or by mistakes made by other employees responsible for ensuring that the crane was in safe working condition. In this scenario, it would be reasonable to require all employees whose conduct could have contributed to the accident to take a drug test, whether or not they reported an injury or illness. Testing would be appropriate in these circumstances because there is a reasonable possibility that the results of drug testing could provide the employer insight on the root causes of the incident. However, if the employer only tested the injured employees but did not test the operator and other employees whose conduct could have contributed to the incident, such disproportionate testing of reporting employees would likely violate section 1904.35(b)(1)(iv). Furthermore, drug testing an employee whose injury could not possibly have been caused by drug use would likely violate section 1904.35(b)(1)(iv). For example, drug testing an employee for reporting a repetitive strain injury would likely not be objectively reasonable because drug use could not have contributed to the injury. And, section 1904.35(b)(1)(iv) prohibits employers from administering a drug test in an unnecessarily punitive manner regardless of whether the employer had a reasonable basis for requiring the test." So, if an employee on a scaffold dropped a piece of lumber, striking an employee below in an area the employee was allowed to walk, it would not be proper to test the employee below, but it would be proper to test the employee on the scaffold, because operator error -- and possible drug impairment -- could have contributed to the accident. It still remains to be seen whether this rule will be rescinded through the Congressional Review Act or vacated through the lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Texas, but in the meantime, employers should make sure their policies regarding injury and illness reporting comport with the new requirements.
February 17, 2017
February 9, 2017
After hearing oral arguments earlier this week from attorneys representing the White House and the states of Washington and Minnesota, last night, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously upheld the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington’s February 3, 2017 issuance of a temporary restraining order prohibiting the federal government from enforcing President Trump’s Executive Order 13769, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” (EO 13769). As you know from our previous blog posts, EO 13769 suspends the entire refugee admission program for 120 days, the Syrian refugee program indefinitely and the entry of immigrants and non-immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for an initial 90-day period. For now, as a result of the Ninth Circuit’s decision, citizens from the seven restricted countries will be able to travel to the U.S. Despite the fact that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling refuses to reinstate EO 13769’s travel ban, it is important to note that this situation will continue to be fluid, and the Trump administration will very likely seek to appeal this latest decision. As such, we continue to advise that individuals from the seven restricted countries who are presently in the U.S. forego unnecessary international travel at this time. In addition, for those individuals from the restricted countries who have valid U.S. visas, who are presently outside the U.S. and who have the intent to return to the U.S., we recommend that they consider traveling to the U.S. while there remains an opportunity to do so.