Kentucky News & Analysis

  • As planning for 2021 benefits begins, don't forget FSA changes available for 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused companies and individuals alike to pay closer attention to budgets and expenses as everyone remains uncertain of the new normal. Expenditures on medical procedures is one area that has experienced a change in behavior. Employees regularly elect what they will contribute to health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) based on expected medical costs. When elective surgeries were delayed and many healthcare provider offices temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, employees experienced lower medical costs than expected—which also meant less opportunity to use up health FSA account balances. Normally, health FSAs are required to apply a "use it or lose it" rule with very limited opportunities for grace periods and/or carryovers. Luckily, the IRS has provided temporary relief to assist employees with unexpected health FSA account balances in 2020.

  • Monitoring employees' personal travel during pandemic: more HR headaches

    Although the summer vacation season is coming to a close, the conundrum posed by employee personal travel during the pandemic is still near the top of the list of HR headaches. On the one hand, managers want employees to take a vacation. It's good for morale, and no employer wants overflowing vacation banks. On the other hand, never have you had more of an interest in (and worry over) where employees travel and what they do once they arrive there.

  • Discrimination claim by employee bypassed for promotion heads to trial

    The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia employers) recently held a trial court erred in dismissing a Facebook employee's claim he was turned down for a promotion based on his race. The case demonstrates why promotion decisions should be made according to clear, written guidelines that help ensure a fair and consistent evaluation, free of any racial bias or discrimination.

  • What TN employers need to know about new COVID-19 liability law

    As Tennessee employers have phased into (and out of and back into) various stages of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, the primary concern for most has been keeping on-site workers as safe as possible and their businesses afloat. A concurrent worry has been what to do if an employee or customer catches the virus. Could the business be liable? As described below, a new state law may help reduce the potential exposure for employers.

  • Charlotte company pays for FCCRA misstep

    The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which became effective April 1, covers private-sector employers with under 500 employees and provides emergency paid sick leave and expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights for certain workers because of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the law's best intentions, employers have found applying its requirements isn't always easy. A transportation company in Charlotte recently became the subject of a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation focusing on whether it had failed to pay emergency sick leave to an employee who was told to quarantine because of coronavirus concerns.

  • Teacher 'safety strikes' may create new hurdles for employers

    On July 28, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) announced support of nationwide teacher "safety strikes" if health precautions aren't taken as schools reopen amid a coronavirus resurgence in some areas. The AFT, however, which represents more than 1.7 million school employees, is leaving the final decision to strike to local unions. Here in West Virginia, the threat of impending teacher strikes carries a significant sting, as recent experience has demonstrated the teachers' union is prepared and willing to strike, and they enjoy ardent support by community and political officials alike.

  • EEOC right-to-sue notices return, other activity continues in North Carolina

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) temporarily stopped issuing right-to-sue notices on charges that had been filed. The pause was recently lifted, and the notices are coming out again. The pause didn't apply to resolutions of EEOC litigation, and we've recently seen some new settlements of cases filed by the agency in North Carolina. They shed light on the types of cases the agency is pursuing and the resolutions they are achieving.

  • Despite recent court decisions, questions remain for religious employers

    The U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions recently that were welcome news for religious organizations and other employers that rely on religious convictions as they conduct their business. One decision bolstered the "ministerial exception," a doctrine stemming from the First Amendment that prevents government interference in religious organizations' ability to hire and fire employees. The other decision says certain private employers with religious or moral objections to birth control can exclude contraception coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans even though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates such coverage for most employers.

  • Incivility and harassment at work? Employer policies can help

    Employers concerned about racist, sexist, and other unacceptable outbursts in the workplace cheered a decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in July that makes it easier to discipline or fire employees for offensive speech. Under the previous standard, employees disciplined for profane outbursts often could look to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) for protection since Section 7 of the Act prohibits employer policies that may impede employee efforts to join a union or otherwise band together to improve the terms and conditions of employment. The previous standard was tolerant of some degree of heated speech uttered in the exercise of Section 7 rights as long as it wasn't violent or otherwise too extreme.

  • Q - A: When to let coworkers know about COVID-19 exposure

    Q We are an employer with approximately 400 employees, and we are aware a couple of our workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Are we required to notify all employees about the coworkers who have tested positive for the virus?