News & Analysis

New COVID-19 law requires paid sick, family leave

On March 18, President Donald Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 90-8 earlier that day. The new law requires covered employers to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) until December 31, 2020. Some of the key requirements are summarized below.

NLRB sues Oregon over workplace meetings laws

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has sued the state of Oregon over its employer meetings law, which prohibits discrimination against employees who refuse to participate in employer-required meetings about religious or political matters. The NLRB alleges that, to the extent the statute applies to employer meetings about unions or related matters, it's preempted by federal labor law and the U.S. Constitution.

Cleanliness, communication key to employers' coronavirus response

As the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread, employers can take certain practical steps to deal with the impact on their business. As with any outbreak, employers need to be nimble as circumstances continue to evolve.

In wake of coronavirus, remember legal obligations to employees

Employers are rightfully concerned about what they should be doing to respond to the continued spread of COVID-19. As we all deal with disruptions to our daily routines, employers need to keep in mind the applicable employment laws when deciding how to respond.

9th Circuit affirms double damages, interest awards for willful FLSA violations

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the law that establishes federal minimum wage and overtime obligations, requires covered employers to pay most employees overtime compensation of at least 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. It also allows a court to award "liquidated" damages in an amount equal to the unpaid overtime compensation unless the employer can prove that its decision not to pay overtime compensation was made in good faith and it had a reasonable basis to believe its conduct was proper.

When talking U.S. visas, 'B' does not stand for 'birth'

As of January 24, 2020, some pregnant foreign nationals traveling to the United States are having to overcome more than tight seatbelts and inadequate bathrooms. The U.S. State Department has changed the rule for obtaining a B-2 "visitor for pleasure" visa. The new rule defines the term "pleasure" to exclude gaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States. It also creates a "rebuttable presumption" that a woman who is pregnant and applying for a visitor-for-pleasure visa is doing just that. The stated reason for the rule is to address the purported practice of "birth tourism."

Return to common sense: DOL publishes new joint employer regulations

On January 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published a new final rule on joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the Federal Register, effective March 15. If two companies are joint employers of an employee, they are jointly and severally liable for compliance and damages under the FLSA.

Cutting-Edge HR

Fighting labor shortage with charter buses. With the unemployment rate hitting historic lows, many employers are struggling to find workers. Package delivery giant FedEx is fighting the problem by turning to chartering buses to bring people in from areas with available workers. The Wall Street Journal featured FedExs program in an article that explains how the company buses workers to its Memphis, Tennessee, hub from areas hours away in Mississippi. The workers earn starting wages of $13.26 an hour, better wages than are available in their home area, where manufacturing jobs have been lost. The busing program runs year-round and was nearing its first anniversary when the article was published.

Federal Watch

Bill gives paid parental leave to 2 million federal workers. A bill including a provision to grant federal workers up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave has passed as part of a larger defense bill backed by President Donald Trump. The bill passed the Senate on December 17 and had previously passed the House. Its expected to provide paid parental leave for more than 2 million federal workers and was backed by Ivanka Trump, the presidents daughter and a key adviser. The parental leave part of the bill was supported by many Democrats and opposed by many Republicans. It was one of the legislative compromises reached during the runup to the impeachment fight.

Overtime required when employee holding two jobs works more than 40 hours

Q Our school administration has an employee who works as a paraprofessional for 32.5 hours per week and as a bus driver for 20 hours per week. Can we separate her job into two positions that would each require 40 hours of work before she is paid overtime? Currently, we're compensating her for 12.5 hours of overtime per week as blended pay.