New Mexico News & Analysis

  • Quash false rumors about bad behavior, or you may face a lawsuit

    An assistant warehouse manager was promoted six times based on merit but couldn't shake the stereotype she received her promotions because she had sex with the supervisor who promoted her. Just two months following her last promotion, she was fired after a false rumor circulated through the workplace that she had slept her way to the top. The highest-ranking manager helped spread the rumor and blamed her for the chaos that ensued.

  • HSA-eligible health plans can provide more preventive services, with IRS's blessing

    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.

  • Marching orders: employers' obligations to citizen soldiers

    The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects military servicemembers and veterans from employment discrimination based on their service and protects their civilian jobs and related benefits upon their return from uniformed service. The concept of protecting servicemembers from being disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their military service sounds straightforward. However, like many legal requirements, USERRA's application is often fact-intensive, with nuances that can trip up employers that don't have experience with the law. This article focuses on your obligations to "citizen soldiers" already in your workforce.

  • 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.

  • Workplace Trends

    Texting gaining popularity in hiring process. More employers and job candidates are using texting as a communication method, according to research from Robert Half Technology. More than two-thirds (67%) of IT decision makers surveyed said their organization uses texting as one way of coordinating interviews with job candidates. Nearly half (48%) of U.S. workers polled in a similar survey said they've received a text message from a potential employer. When asked about the greatest advantage of texting during the hiring process, quick communication was the top response among IT managers and workers. They also acknowledged the greatest drawback was the possibility of miscommunication.

  • NM expands sexual orientation, gender identity protections

    In the 2019 legislative session, New Mexico lawmakers amended the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) to extend the prohibition against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity to employers with four or more employees. Before June 14, 2019, the Act applied only to employers with 15 or more employees. The latest amendment discarded the distinction between large and small employers. The only distinction left in the NMHRA between large and small employers involves spousal affiliation—employers with 50 or more employees may not discriminate against them based on spousal affiliation.

  • 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.

  • Unpaid intern is not protected by ADA, ADEA, or Title VII

    In Disney's animated movie Aladdin, a homeless unemployed young man attempts to pass himself off as a prince with the help of a genie. His purpose is to impress a princess and be worthy of marrying her. It's a classic example of a person attempting to convince others that he is someone other than who he claims to be.