Hurricane Season Preparation Guide for HR Managers

It’s hurricane season, and companies all along the Gulf should have a plan in place not only to address business continuity issues, but also the human resources and staffing questions that arise in the event of a natural disaster like a hurricane or flooding event. Our firm has prepared the attached employer guide addressing these practical questions for employers, including:

– Legal protections for employees who are absent due to a disaster or evacuation order;
– Payroll obligations for exempt or non-exempt employees who are absent because of a disaster;
– Practical impact of on-call time or employees volunteering to help during a disaster;
– Communication plan for coordinating reopening of operations in the aftermath of a disaster;
– Leave rights related to caring for family members during a weather event; and
– Checklist for preparing a disaster preparation plan for the HR Department.

The key to successfully handling a natural disaster as an organization is having a plan in place before the event occurs. If your company doesn’t have a plan, now is an excellent time to prepare one. If you have one already in place, the start of hurricane season is a great time to dust off the plan and update it.

 

 

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Colorado becomes the 13th State to “Ban the Box” – Prohibiting Employers from Inquiring about Criminal Convictions on Initial Employment Applications

Colorado employers should review and, if necessary, revise job applications to remove questions about criminal history.

Colorado has joined a growing number of states and municipalities to pass “ban the box” laws, which prohibit employers from asking job applicants about criminal convictions on job applications. Read more ›

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Posted in Labor & Employment

In Pay, May All Be Created Equal…An Overview Of The Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

The News

On May 22, 2019, Colorado passed a new pay equity law which brings the state to the cutting edge of regulation in this area.

The Basics

The Act, which will take effect on January 1, 2021, prohibits discrimination because of sex (including gender identity) and provides that employers may not pay an employee of one sex less than an employee of another sex for substantially similar work (measured as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility).  The Act allows employers to avoid liability for pay disparities if they can show that the disparity results from: Read more ›

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Update on Local Sick Pay Laws in Texas

The Texas legislative session has come to a close, and the much expected law banning cities from implementing sick leave ordinances and similar employment laws failed to make it to the Governor’s desk. The reason for the collapse of the proposed bill (which had broad support from Governor Greg Abbott and business groups) was perceived over-reaching in language that would have not only outlawed cities from passing sick leave laws, but any employment laws  — including prohibitions on sexual orientation and trans-gender discrimination. Since Texas has no such protections in its state anti-discrimination law, the only protections on the books are local ordinances; and lobbying groups came out in force to protect these ordinances. This controversy sank the chances of the bill passing; and since the legislature meets only every two years, this issue is likely going to be left to the state courts to decide.

As it currently stands, the Austin sick pay ordinance has been enjoined by a state appellate court from taking effect. That case appears to be headed to the Texas Supreme Court, which will decide whether the law is constitutional. San Antonio has also passed a sick pay ordinance, scheduled to take effect August 1, 2019 for businesses with more than 15 employees. The San Antonio City Council is currently considering whether to postpone the effective date of its law to allow the Austin ordinance to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. Not to be outdone, Dallas passed its own sick pay ordinance in April 2019 to take effect August 1, 2019 for employers with more than five (5) employees.  Notably, the law restricts the city from issuing penalties until April 2020, and there is a strong likelihood a lawsuit will be filed challenging its implementation, just like the one filed in Austin.

In sum, the Texas Legislature failed to bring some much needed clarity to this emerging trend of cities in Texas passing employment laws.  The issue will be left for the courts to decide, and it is uncertain how long that will take or where the cases will ultimately end up for Texas employers.

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Posted in Benefits, Labor & Employment, Wage and Hour

Nine Questions Answered About the Proposed Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance

The proposed Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance, introduced in the City Council on May 29, 2019, would require certain Chicago employers to publish employees’ schedules two weeks in advance and limit their ability to change employees’ schedules or impose mandatory overtime and impose new record-keeping requirements. If enacted in its current form, the ordinance would take effect on April 1, 2020. Read more ›

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Posted in Labor & Employment, Wage and Hour

The Do’s and Don’ts of Interviewing Applicants

What questions are considered illegal to ask during the interview process? Bethany Salvatore and Bryant Andrews discuss interview do’s and don’ts as well as best practices.

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#No Filter: Terminating an Employee for Social Media Posts

Prior to the advent of social media and especially the #MeToo movement, employers were generally comfortable drawing a bright line between what employees did on their own time and workplace misconduct.  Those bygone times, however, have been replaced by a modern era wherein employers are forced to apply employment laws created before the personal computer to their workforce in an increasingly virtual world. The below sampling of cases and employer decisions illustrate how nuanced and difficult deciding to terminate an employee for a social media post can be.

Schirnhofer v. Premier Compensation Solutions, 303 F. Supp. 3d 353 (W.D. Pa. 2018).

In Schirnhofer v. Premier Compensation Solutions, Plaintiff worked as a billing coordinator diagnosed with anxiety disorder. 303 F. Supp. 3d 353 (W.D. Pa. 2018).  Plaintiff submitted a doctor’s note requesting a reasonable accommodation of two ten (10) minute rest breaks to cope with her anxiety in addition to the rest breaks provided to all employees. The employer denied her request because the request wasn’t necessary “to perform the essential functions of your job.” Id. at 361. Plaintiff took to Facebook to vent her frustration in the following posts: “[f]or every reaction there is a reaction” and “sometimes I wish I could go back to the old days and handle s*** the old way.” Id. at 362.  Plaintiff was terminated for making implied threats on Facebook shortly thereafter and subsequently filed suit alleging a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation, discrimination and retaliation. At trial, the jury awarded Plaintiff $285,000 in damage on her claims of disability discrimination and failure to accommodate, but found in favor of the employer as to her claims of retaliation.  In finding in favor of the employer as to the retaliation claim but against the employer on failure to accommodate claim, the jury appears to have taken greater issue with the employer’s refusal to grant additional rest breaks as an accommodation rather than its terminating Plaintiff for her online post. Read more ›

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Update on Texas Legislature Bill to Reverse Austin Sick Pay Law

At the beginning of the Texas Legislature session this year, it seemed like a slam dunk that conservative lawmakers would stop Austin and other cities in their tracks in their efforts to pass employment laws like mandatory sick pay. Senate Bill 15 (text here) passed through the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs on February 28.  It would both nullify and prevent city efforts to regulate private employer benefits like sick leave. The bill, however, is broadly worded to prohibit regulation of not only paid sick leave, but other employee benefits, scheduling practices, and background checks.

Although the bill has passed through committee, there is rising opposition to the bill because the version that passed the committee did not include an earlier exemption for existing city ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Texas has no such protections under its state discrimination statute, so many cities have established such protections, and if they are voided under this new bill, it would leave no legal protection in place.

The bottom line is that what appeared to be an easy path for the law overturning Austin’s sick pay ordinance is now looking to be a tougher road, with newfound political opposition. Currently, the State Legislature is scheduled to complete its regular session in late May, so we should have an answer in the next few months on the future of city ordinances regulating employment benefits in Texas.

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Posted in Discrimination, Labor & Employment, Wage and Hour

The Joint Employer Rollercoaster Continues: DOL Announces Proposed Changes

For the past several years, the issue of joint employer status has been in a constant state of flux, creating uncertainty for employers.  In an effort to clarify this issue, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a proposed rule on April 1, setting forth a four-factor balancing test to determine whether a joint employment relationship exists.  These factors include whether the putative joint employer: Read more ›

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DOL Launches New Pilot Program on Discretionary Suspensions and Debarments

On Tuesday, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new pilot program for discretionary suspension and debarments to “ensure accountability and protect the federal government” from companies that have engaged in inappropriate or illegal conduct. The pilot program will be in effect from April 2019 to April 2020. Read more ›

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Posted in DOL, Labor & Employment
About HR Headaches
HR Headaches is a blog for Human Resources professionals, business owners, and in-house counsel to get the latest news, analysis and tips in the area of labor and employment law. Every day there are new court decisions, agency interpretations, and regulations which affect the workplace, making it difficult, if not impossible, for many employers to keep current. HR Headaches is dedicated to providing information in a practical, no-nonsense manner to help employers avoid legal disputes and keep policies up to date.
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