North Dakota News & Analysis

  • Tips on responding to your first discrimination charge

    When your organization receives its first discrimination charge from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights (NDDOL), you may wonder, "What does this mean?" or "What do we do now?" A charge is a signed statement from an applicant, former employee, or even current employee asserting that an organization engaged in employment discrimination against the individual (often called "the charging party"). The charge isn't a lawsuit, but it is an administrative notice that the EEOC or the NDDOL will investigate a potential violation of federal and/or state antidiscrimination law.

  • 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.

  • Its not me—it's you: how to break up with your employees

    Relationships—both personal and professional—can be complicated. Just like first dates, job interviews offer candidates the chance to show a prospective employer the best possible version of themselves: smart, charming, funny, and responsible. As an employer, you ask exploratory questions about a candidate's background, education, interests, and goals for the future to see if it's a good fit. If you both agree that it is, you start a relationship.

  • 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.

  • To test or not: a primer on workplace drug and alcohol testing

    Employee safety is a top priority for all employers. In an effort to ensure safety and reduce liability, employers often turn to drug and alcohol testing to make sure employees aren't under the influence at work. Some studies suggest that nearly 16 percent of Americans have shown up at work high or under the influence, and it has been suggested that number has increased nearly 60 percent in the last five years. No doubt, the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in some states has had an impact on those statistics and will continue to create difficult legal questions for employers that require drug and alcohol testing.

  • 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.

  • Drivers sleeping in sleeper berths = noncompensable time

    Q I own a company that employs several long-haul truck drivers. One of my drivers told me that I should be compensating drivers for time spent sleeping in their sleeper berths. Is that true? I thought drivers' sleep time was off-duty activity that didn't need to be compensated.