President George H.W. Bush may very well be best remembered for his role in bringing the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to the American workplace. Bush engaged in bi-partisan leadership in working with the ADA’s chief sponsor, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and the likes of Senators Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Bob Dole, R-Kan.; David Durenberger, R-Minn.; and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah who were key proponents of the legislation, in seeing the legislation through to passage. Bush signed the legislation into law on July 26, 1990. Continue Reading On the Day of President Bush’s Memorial Service We Focus on His Signature Legislation; The Americans with Disabilities Act
In a highly technical, twenty-page opinion, a three-judge panel of the Massachusetts Appeals Court declined to answer the question of whether volunteer members of boards of directors of nonprofits can be held personally liable to workers for unpaid wages under the Massachusetts Wage Act. With the issue unresolved, for the time being, volunteer board members will continue to face some uncertainty about their possible personal liability.
The case, Lynch v. Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center, Inc., No. 18-P-179 (Nov. 30, 2018) involved a nonprofit that was struggling financially. The chair of the nonprofit’s volunteer board of directors—who was also holding himself out as the organization’s “president” and “acting CEO”—decided to use the entity’s limited funds to pay vendors instead of paying wages. Employees brought a class action lawsuit under the Massachusetts Wage Act, seeking recovery from the nonprofit, as well as from the board chair individually. Under the Massachusetts Wage Act, the president and treasurer of a business entity, and any officers or agents managing the entity, can be held personally liable for the entity’s failure to pay wages. The board chair sought to have the case against him dismissed on grounds that he was immune under state and federal laws protecting volunteers. Continue Reading Massachusetts Appeals Court Declines to Rule on Non-Profit Board Member Immunity Under Wage Act
On October 24, 2018 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced that Denton County Texas will pay $115,000 to a female physician formerly employed by the county. The EEOC filed suit in August 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas alleging that Dr. Martha C. Storrie was paid less than her male counterpart for the same job in violation of the Equal Pay Act. The court entered judgment in favor of the EEOC.
In July 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed the BRAVE Act, a wide-ranging piece of legislation including a number of provisions aimed at increasing the support and services available to veterans and their families. Among other things, the act provides increased tax relief and access to educational programs and other resources to veterans. The BRAVE Act also updates state law with regard to the time off provided to veterans on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
For those who thought the Trump DOL would back off the increased enforcement efforts of the Obama administration, last week’s news was not all good. The U.S. Department of Labor just announced that the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recovered a record $304 million in wages owed to workers in Fiscal Year 2018. WHD also set a new record for compliance assistance events in FY 2018, holding 3,643 outreach events – including on the ground presentations and trainings – targeted to educate employers about their legal responsibilities regarding payment of wages.
On October 4, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released preliminary data on sexual harassment claims for FY 2018, which ended on September 30, 2018. The document, entitled “What You Should Know: EEOC Leads the Way in Preventing Workplace Harassment” summarizes the enforcement and prevention actions taken by the EEOC in the almost two years since the agency released the report of its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace in June 2016.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has issued a new notice to be issued to applicants and employees who will be subject to background checks. Employers should begin using the new notice, entitled “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” (“FCRA”) immediately.
During the month of September, the Department of Labor will be holding a series of “Listening Sessions” throughout the country in order to hear public comments about planned changes to the overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
On this blog, we have followed the long and winding path of the years-long efforts to update the FLSA’s overtime rules (see our posts on the subject here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). To recap, in 2014, the Obama Administration set out to overhaul the overtime rules, and, after nearly two years, issued a set of final regulations, which were to have gone into effect on December 1, 2016. Among other things, these regulations would have increased the minimum salary threshold for exempt workers from $455 per week to $913. This change would have dramatically increased the number of workers who would be classified as non-exempt, and therefore eligible to earn overtime pay. However, after President Trump’s election, and just days before the regulations were to take effect, a federal court issued an injunction halting the changes. After almost a year of litigation and uncertainty, the Trump Administration finally abandoned the Obama Administration’s regulations and went back to the drawing board and started the entire rulemaking process over from scratch.
Reality-TV-Star-Turned-White-House-Staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman recently grabbed headlines with her tell-all book about her short but dramatic tenure in the West Wing. Some of the most eyebrow-raising revelations came from the secret audio recordings she made of Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her in the Situation Room and of President Trump telling her, in the Oval Office, that he didn’t know she had been let go. Omarosa told Chuck Todd, of NBC’s “Meet The Press,” why she made the recordings: “If I didn’t have these recordings, no one in America would believe me. No one. So, I protected myself, and I’m going to tell you I’m so glad I did.”
Perusing LinkedIn, as I often do over morning coffee, I saw this plea on one of the human resources groups I follow. Not having the time to read it carefully, I put it aside in my “fodder for future blog posts” folder. Like most of the people who responded quickly with advice for the human resource professional who sought help from her colleagues, my first thought was “big red flag.” How can a company operate with all leaders and no workers, with all executives and no support staff? The reality is that very few businesses of any size can realistically classify all of its workers as exempt.