Mississippi News & Analysis

  • Document, evaluate, consider, adhere: overcoming a routine discrimination, retaliation claim

    A run-of-the-mill retaliation case. An international employer that knows the law. A usual scenario. What could possibly go wrong? In a recent federal case, the Western District of Louisiana (whose cases are persuasive guidance for Mississippi federal courts) refused to summarily dismiss Wal-Mart from a retaliation lawsuit, despite the retailer's contention it was justified in terminating the employee due to her multiple write-ups. Could Wal-Mart have dodged this proverbial bullet? Let's check it out!

  • IRS authorizes more preventive services to be paid by HSA-eligible health plans

    The IRS recently issued guidance expanding the definition of "preventive care" that may be covered—possibly free of charge—by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) that's paired with a health savings account (HSA). While the changes made by the guidance are relatively simple, they have the potential to make HSAs substantially more attractive, particularly to employees who have a chronic condition that is controlled by medication or therapy. Before diving too far into the details, however, it's important to have a solid understanding of HSAs and how they work.

  • Association retirement plans may not be ready for prime time

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently finalized regulations allowing multiple employers to offer a retirement plan to their employees through a combined association retirement plan (ARP). In what is becoming a common theme for the agency under President Donald Trump, the new rules are intended to make it easier for small to mid-sized employers to offer such plans to their employees. While they are similar to rules finalized last year that established a new type of association health plan, they go even further by establishing guidelines for professional employer organizations (PEOs) to sponsor retirement plans for their members' employees. Unfortunately, they also may face some of the same problems as those rules, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

  • Should retroactive pay increases cover former employees, too?

    Q Last month, our board of trustees approved a three-percent companywide salary increase, retroactive to April 1, 2019. Should an employee resigning at the beginning of this month receive the increase since he was an active employee when it was approved? We won't process payroll until after his last day. We also have some employees who resigned between April 1 and when the increase was approved. Should they receive the retroactive increase as well?

  • Agency Action

    New wage and hour opinion letters issued. The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in July announced new opinion letters related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). FLSA2019-7 addresses the calculation of overtime pay for nondiscretionary bonuses paid on a quarterly and annual basis. FLSA2019-8 addresses the application of the highly compensated employee exemption to paralegals employed by a trade organization. FLSA2019-9 addresses permissible rounding practices for calculating an employee's hours worked. FLSA2019-10 addresses the compensability of time spent in a truck's sleeper berth while otherwise relieved from duty. The DOL offers a search function allowing users to search existing opinion letters by keyword, year, topic, and a variety of other filters. The search function can be accessed at www.dol.gov/whd/opinion/search/fullsearch.htm.

  • Weighing the odds: Is extreme obesity a protected disability?

    A bus driver filed suit against his employer after he was fired for exceeding the weight requirements for operating a bus. The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose decisions aren't binding on Mississippi employers but can serve as persuasive guidance, found extreme obesity is a physical impairment and therefore an actionable disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) only if it is the result of an underlying physiological disorder or condition. Would a Mississippi federal court reach the same result? Are obese Mississippi employees protected under the ADA? Let's take a closer look.

  • Individual coverage HRAs probably not option for 2020

    On his very first day in office, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to lessen the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) burden on the organizations and individuals who were subject to its requirements. More than two years later, the ACA is limping along, but the Trump administration is still working to carry out that order.

  • How to identify and minimize employee burnout

    You may have seen reports recently that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified employee burnout as a diagnosable medical condition. While that's not exactly accurate, the group has expanded its definition of the term in its latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases.

  • Employer wants to snuff out employees' tobacco use

    Q Can we offer a small cash bonus to employees who are nonsmokers (verified by a short questionnaire) or who smoke/chew tobacco but complete a smoking cessation program?

  • Workplace Trends

    Tight labor market tops HR concerns, survey says. Attracting talent has surpassed regulatory compliance as the top HR concern, according to the 2019 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey, released on June 24. More than two-thirds of HR leaders reported difficulty finding and hiring quality candidates, up from 59% last year. When asked specifically about challenges related to hiring, HR professionals most often cited finding qualified candidates (49%), retaining their best employees (49%), and finding candidates who fit their company culture (42%). The survey reported that as a result of those challenges, HR teams are increasingly willing to train job candidates who may not check all the boxes for required skills. The survey showed 85% of HR leaders would be willing to train and upskill an underqualified candidate, and 78% said their organizations have already benefited from upskilling underqualified workers.