HR & the Law in the News
August 2016, Volume 15, Issue 8
Please enjoy this latest edition of FiveL Company's monthly e-newsletter, bringing you current news related to employment policies, practices and programs. 
Ignorance is Bliss?     
Regulatory Roll Backs
Avoid Mistake words in 3d letters and a green arrow over the word to illustrate preventing a problem, error, difficulty or inaccuracy
Haste makes waste; that's an adage with which we're all too familiar. It seems it is also being demonstrated by a number of federal agencies eager to push out employer mandates sooner rather than later.  Let's look at some recent examples.
  • EEOC's EEO-1 Report - On February 1, 2016 the Commission published a proposed rule to revise the reporting requirements for those who file EEO-1 reports. The proposal included requirements to provide "summary" pay data.  The Commission held a public hearing on March 16th.  Then on July 14th the EEOC published a revised rule as a result of the feedback it received during the initial notice and comment period as well as testimony provided during the hearing. The new deadline for notice and comment ends August 15th. For the latest information click here
  • DOL's Persuader Rule - On April 25th the Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards' final rule amending what is known as the Persuader Rule under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) took effect. This rule expanded reporting requirements to require employers and the consultants they hire to file reports regarding certain direct and indirect activities in which they engage such as developing or providing union avoidance training for managers, related policies or consulting on related matters. On June 27th the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction putting the rule on hold. 
  • DOL's New Overtime Regulations - I am willing to bet this is not news to you but the legislative reactions within Congress may be. There are currently four bills pending to defer, phase-in or offset the impact of the new rule. 
    • S. 2707 / H.R. 4773 - Protecting Workplace Advancement & Opportunity Act would defer the December 1, 2016 implementation date until the DOL has more time to perform further economic analysis on the impact the new rule will have on small business and employers in various industries.
    • H.R. 5813 -  would retain the implementation date of December 1, 2016 but phase in the increase to the minimum salary requirement over several years.
    • S. 233 / H.R. 465 - Working Families Flexibility Act does not impact the new rule directly but would permit private sector employers to offer their non-exempt (hourly) employees with compensatory time off from work in lieu of overtime, a benefit currently enjoyed by hourly workers in the public sector.
OSHA - Now here's a new rule that has not been rolled back.  On May 12th OSHA issued its final rule modifying the recordkeeping requirements for certain employers. The rule also imposes new notice requirements on covered employers to advise employees of their right to report workplace injuries or illness free from retaliation and provide a reporting procedure that does not "deter or discourage employees from reporting." On July 22nd DOL announced settlement of a lawsuit that claimed, in part that the employer violated the OSH Act by enforcing a policy that subjected employees to corrective action if they failed to "immediately" report a workplace accident or injury. While the lawsuit was filed before the May 12th rule was published it signals the position of the agency in handling related complaints. 

So now what?  First, engage in a proactive review of your related policies, practice and procedures.  Where opportunities still exist: ADVOCATE!  Be one and do it. Contact your Senators, Congressmen and regulatory agency representatives.  Tell your stories. Help them understand before these rules and regulations become final how they will impact your business operations.  

NOTE: Correction to last month's newsletter, which should have read, " Employers in the public sector have the ability to use volunteer workers to a much greater extent than employers in the private (for-profit) sector." Thanks to the reader who caught that and kindly let me know!
Discrimination word cloud concept on white background.
(Religious) Discrimination at Work
It's the action verb and the place: discrimination in the workplace recently received the attention of several federal agencies.  From March to June 2016, the US Civil Rights Division has worked in conjunction with the White House, Department of Justice,  EEOC, Office of Civil Rights and more holding round tables across the country to address religious-based hate crimes, related bullying in education, related activities and, yes religious discrimination in employment. 

In July the US Department of Justice published its  report  including a section on religious discrimination in employment.  Issues addressed included discrimination during the job application process, on the job, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, and more. Recommendations included improving education and awareness for employees and employers, expediting the EEOC's processing of related charges, improving related data collection and more.

On July 22nd the EEOC announced steps the agency was taking to combat religious discrimination at work. There is a new  fact sheet for teens and young workers to inform them about employment discrimination as part of a Youth at Work initiative. It seems to align with the above report, the agency also announced that it will modify its data collection process to obtain more precise data about the religion of a person who files a complaint. Employers may want to check out other Fact Sheets published by the agency addressing other rights enforced by the EEOC, such as sexual harassment, disabilities, criminal records and more. 

Why so much attention on this issue?  Last year religious discrimination charges filed with the EEOC comprised only 3.9% of all charges filed. That was also down slightly from the two prior years at 4.0%. We do, however hear of crimes by a person, persons or coalitions against one or more other people based on actual and perceived religion across the globe.  Just as economic factors drive discrimination charges filed so do world events.    

For more data, information and proactive steps employers may take related to all forms of unlawful discrimination and harassment at work join this month's webcast, " Workplace Harassment: Prevention, Correction and Current Trends." 
Upcoming Events!

Thursday, August 4th  - " FLSA Update: The New Regulations and How They Impact You " presented for the members and guests of  the Hunt Valley Business Forum ( HVBF ), 8:00 - 9:30 a.m., Hunt Valley, MD 

Friday, August 5th, - "Up in Smoke - HR Summit" presented for the members of AICC Region 2, 8:45 - 12:30, Seattle, WA  

Thursday, August 18th -  " Legal Updates Including the FLSA & How they Will Impact You," sponsored by the RI SHRM State Chapter, 8:00 - 10:30 a.m., Warwick, RI

Wednesday, August 24th - NEXT WEBCAST - " Workplace Harassment: Prevention, Correction & Current Trends" part of FiveL Company's monthly webcast series, pre-approved by HRCI & SHRM for 1.25 credits. 

Wednesday, August 31st  - " Employment Law Update: From Hello to Goodbye ," presented for the members and guests of Maryland Works, Inc ., 9 :00 - 12:00 noon, Columbia, MD. 

For a full list of upcoming events click here
Here it is...the infamous and oh-so-important disclaimer...This publication does not constitute the rendering of legal advice.  You should consult your company's employment or legal counsel for guidance on any particular issue.