Vermont News & Analysis

  • Winter is coming: FLSA and your pay obligations during inclement weather

    During the winter months, the threat of the weather turning frightful is on everyone's mind. No matter what business you may be in, inclement weather and treacherous road conditions can cause many headaches—including issues with employee payroll. Many employers grapple with the question of how to pay employees when the business is closed because of bad weather and whether deductions from pay for closures are allowed. Let's explore what the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires of employers when Mother Nature wreaks havoc.

  • Looking back at 2019 and to what's ahead for federal agencies in 2020

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) all ramped up their enforcement endeavors in 2019. The NLRB has refocused its efforts on unionized businesses, the new EEOC chair is pushing to settle old cases, the OFCCP director is aiming to end the year with the largest settlement total in the agency's history by resolving or litigating old audits, and the WHD has filed a record number of enforcement cases against employers.

  • SCOTUS decision on LGBTQ workplace protections coming in 2020

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In recent years, controversy over whether the term "sex" as used in Title VII includes sexual orientation and gender identity has arisen among the federal circuit courts of appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to resolve the split. No matter where the Court falls on the issue, the decision will supersede existing precedent in at least some circuits and will have a lasting impact for decades to come.

  • Truth about holiday season? It's not always what it's nut-cracked up to be

    Many of us are fully involved in the crush of festivities and holiday shopping that traditionally mark the beginning of the sprint to New Year's Eve. This is the season of peace on earth and good will toward our fellow man, right? Well, not always.

  • Proposed rule aims to expand use of fluctuating workweek

    A new proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) intends to clarify that employers that pay nonexempt workers bonuses or other incentive-based pay in addition to a fixed salary can use the fluctuating workweek (FWW) method of paying overtime as a way to keep costs down as long as other requirements for using the method are met.

  • Agency Action

    NLRB reports progress in case processing. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has reported improved case processing statistics for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The NLRB issued 303 decisions in contested cases during FY 2019. Adopting a case processing pilot program, the Board focused on issuing decisions in some of the oldest cases. As a result, the median age of all cases pending before the Board was reduced from 233 days in FY 2018 to 157 days at the end of FY 2019. The NLRB also said it reduced the number of cases pending before it to its lowest level since 2012. As of the end of FY 2019, the number of pending cases was reduced from 281 at the end of FY 2018 to 227 when the report was released on October 7. Also, the NLRB regional offices made strides toward meeting the Board's strategic goal to reduce case processing time by 20 percent over four years. In just one year, the regions overall nearly met the four-year goal by reducing the time of filing to disposition of unfair labor practice cases from 90 to 74 days, a decrease of 17.5 percent.

  • New breadth, focus, identity for your Employment Law Letter

    At Business and Legal Resources (BLR), our goal is to provide employers and HR professionals like you with the most up-to-date information on changes that affect your department. After reviewing our product line, we have decided to give your Employment Law Letter a much-needed upgrade.

  • SEC investigates service providers' management of 403(b), 457 plans

    Since 2017, more than two dozen lawsuits have been filed against large 403(b) plans, most of them involving large colleges and universities. Plan sponsors and fiduciaries have been accused of being "asleep at the wheel," ignoring their fiduciary obligations and allowing service providers to make self-interested decisions. As of October 2019, several cases have been settled, several have been dismissed, and there has been one verdict after a trial.

  • Breaking serve: 2nd Circuit calls 'fault,' reinstates Hofstra coach's Title VII claim

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (whose decisions apply to Vermont employers) recently overturned a district court's dismissal of an employee's federal, state, and local sex discrimination claims because his employer didn't comply with its own policies when it investigated a complaint against him. It's troubling the accused employee may have gained the right to sue his employer for sex discrimination based solely on the manner in which it conducted the investigation, and a female student who filed the complaint may be seen as an "agent" of the employer for purposes of imputing liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a case every employer should understand to avoid the same pitfalls.

  • Looking to add an innovative benefit? Student loan assistance an option

    On a quest to recruit top talent, many employers are getting creative with perks and benefits. Free food and ping-pong tables are nice. So is a generous employer match on a 401(k). But many employees may not get too excited about perks and retirement benefits when they're struggling with student loan debt. And it's that financial burden that is leading employers to explore ways to ease the pain for their debt-ridden workers.