Top Five HR Headlines You Don’t Want to Miss!

June 29, 2015

By Nichole D. Atallah
Practice Area: Labor & Employment Law

If you have been paying attention to the headlines, you might have noticed that a lot has been happening in the labor and employment world recently. Here are our top 5:

  1. The Supreme Court Saves the Affordable Care Act ... Again:  On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court held that the Affordable Care Act (‘ACA”) may provide nationwide tax subsidies for qualifying individuals to purchase health insurance. In King v. Burwell was a challenge to a fundamental component of the ACA, the use of federal exchanges to purchase insurance coverage where state’s declines to establish their own. The four plaintiffs in the case argued that the subsidy could only be provided on a state run exchange. The Supreme Court disagreed. This 6-to-3 ruling all but ensures that the ACA will survive through the end of this presidential term and may well ignite the health care debate once again during the 2016 presidential election season.  
     
  2. The EEOC Publishes Revised Pregnancy Discrimination Enforcement Guidance:  On June 25, 2015 the EEOC announced that it revised its guidance concerning pregnancy discrimination in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. United Parcel Service (“UPS”) that directly controverted the EEOC’s position that a UPS policy limiting light duty to certain employees is “facially discriminatory.” The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires that employers treat pregnant women and those affected by childbirth or related medical conditions the same as other applicants or employees in their ability or inability to work. In light of the Supreme Court case and the EEOC guidance, employers should ensure their policies and practices are updated.
     
  3. The Supreme Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Bans: On June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires “a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.” Why does this matter to an employer? If you haven’t made sure that your handbook does not have any policies that would adversely impact same-sex couples, you should do so now. This case not only impacts marriage rights, but essentially gives equal rights to same-sex couples.
     
  4. Montgomery County, Maryland Passes Paid Sick Leave Law: The Montgomery County Council passed paid sick leave legislation on June 23, 2015. The law requires employers with 5 or more employees to provide at least 1 hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked, or up to 56 hours per year for personal sick time, to care for a sick family member, for a public health emergency or to address domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Businesses with less than 5 employees must provide 32 hours of paid sick leave and 24 hours of unpaid leave per year. Montgomery County is now the 23rd place in the country to enact a paid sick leave law. The law goes into effect on October 1, 2016.
     
  5. The District of Columbia Amends the D.C. Wage Theft Prevention Act: The District of Columbia Council recently amended its Wage Theft Prevention Act. Passed on February 26, 2015, the law now requires that District employers provide every employee with written notice regarding the employer’s basic information (including corporate and trade names, address, and telephone number) as well as information concerning employee pay (including rate of pay, regular payday, and overtime pay or exemption from overtime pay). Employers are required to provide the new pay notices to employees within 90 days of the law’s effective date, meaning employers must issue the notices immediately. The District recently issued sample pay notices, which can be found here: D.C. Wage and Hour Compliance. The law provides for penalties up to quadruple the amount of damages so employers should ensure prompt compliance.
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