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The EEOC Finalizes Wellness Program Guidance, Issuing Final Rules on Workplace Wellness Programs and a Sample Notice 0

The EEOC Finalizes Wellness Program Guidance, Issuing Final Rules on Workplace Wellness Programs and a Sample Notice

After much anticipation (and confusion) regarding legally permissible parameters for certain employer-sponsored wellness programs, on May 16, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued two final rules concerning wellness programs that offer incentives in exchange for health information from employees and their spouses. Specifically, the rules describe how wellness programs can comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act (“GINA”). According to the EEOC’s press release, the rules provide guidance under the ADA and GINA consistent with the relevant provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), as amended by the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The EEOC’s proposed regulations were discussed in a previous post following our presentation entitled “Wellness Programs for a Healthy Workplace” at the Fifth Annual Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Conference. Then, in June, the EEOC issued a sample notice for employer-sponsored wellness programs. Here, we parse the rules into bright-line takeaways for employers.

Wellness Programs for a Healthy Workplace 0

Wellness Programs for a Healthy Workplace

At the Fifth Annual Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Conference for clients of the firm, we presented a program entitled “Wellness Programs for a Healthy Workplace.” Cathy Kenworthy, President and CEO of Interactive Health, discussed the business case for implementing wellness programs in our workplaces, while I addressed the numerous laws impacting such programs.

Executive Order Mandates Paid Sick Leave 0

Executive Order Mandates Paid Sick Leave

On Labor Day, President Obama issued an Executive Order that increases paid time out for employees of federal contractors. In legislation similar to that enacted in recent years in municipalities, cities, and states across the country, Executive Order 13706 mandates that federal contractors provide paid sick leave on an accrual basis. More specifically, employees must be able to accrue one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. While the Order states that its goal is to ensure that employees on federal contracts “can earn up to 7 days or more of paid sick leave annually,” it requires that contractors “not set a limit on the total accrual of paid sick leave per year, or at any point in time, at less than 56 hours.” Thus, the Order mandates a minimum of seven (7) paid days, but permits an employer to allow accrual of a larger number of days. Although the paid time is not required to be paid out when an employee separates from employment, it must be eligible for carry-over from year to year if unused, and must be reinstated if an employee separates and is rehired by the same employer within twelve (12) months. In addition to time needed for an employee resulting from his or her own “physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition,” the Order permits a broad range of uses, such as obtaining diagnostic or preventive care; “caring for a child, a parent, a spouse, a domestic partner, or other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship” and who needs care for an illness, injury or condition, or diagnostic or preventive care “or is otherwise in need of care;” or for recovery from or attending to matters related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, whether for the employee or any of the members of the employee’s family as defined above. Notably, the Order’s definition of those whom the employee may use paid time to care for – individuals “related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship” – is among the most expansive of any similar legislation.

U.S. Supreme Court Reinstates Pregnant Worker’s Discrimination Case 0

U.S. Supreme Court Reinstates Pregnant Worker’s Discrimination Case

In Young v. UPS, the United States Supreme Court reinstated a UPS worker’s pregnancy discrimination lawsuit under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, finding that both the District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had applied the wrong standard in upholding UPS’s light-duty-for-injury policy, under which the company refused a light-duty accommodation to a pregnant employee back in 2006. While the Court did not determine whether the employee suffered any actual discrimination, or whether UPS’s policy was impermissible under the PDA – those issues were remanded to the Fourth Circuit – the Court did adopt a modified version of the familiar burden-shifting framework of McDonnell Douglas for analyzing pregnancy discrimination claims under the PDA. The Court’s decision in Young is also noteworthy in that it declined to give deference to the EEOC’s July 2014 guidance on pregnancy discrimination, which we have previously discussed, and, in fact, rejected the argument that the PDA creates “an unconditional favored nations status” for pregnant workers.

NLRA Impact on Non-Union Workplace Policies to Continue into 2013 0

NLRA Impact on Non-Union Workplace Policies to Continue into 2013

At the Gibbons Second Annual Employment & Labor Law Conference last week, one panel discussion addressed the National Labor Relation Board’s (“NLRB”) recent activity, and offered a list of topics to watch in 2013. This blog post contains the highlights from that discussion as related to employer policies. Of prime interest in our predictions for 2013 is the “recess appointment” issue. Just three weeks ago, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Canning v. NLRB, No. 12-1115 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 25, 2013) held that three 2012 recess appointments of officers to the NLRB by President Obama were unconstitutional because they lacked the “Advice and Consent” of the Senate and were not authorized by the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause.

Fourth Circuit Says Preferential Treatment for Pregnant Employees Not Required 0

Fourth Circuit Says Preferential Treatment for Pregnant Employees Not Required

Pregnant employees who seek accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) need not be offered special treatment, the Fourth Circuit ruled on January 9, 2013. The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals “on the basis of disability.” The PDA, enacted in 1978, amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to specifically prohibit discrimination in employment “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”

U.S. Department of Labor Publishes Proposed Rules for Military FMLA 0

U.S. Department of Labor Publishes Proposed Rules for Military FMLA

On Monday, January 28, 2012 the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing statutory amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions concerning military family leave and flight crew eligibility. The proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register and interested parties may submit written comments within a defined period of time, which has not yet been specified.

Can a USERRA Claim Be Released as Part of a Separation Agreement? 0

Can a USERRA Claim Be Released as Part of a Separation Agreement?

In the most recent issue of the New Jersey Labor & Employment Quarterly, Kelly Ann Bird and Zeenat Basrai analyze whether an employee can release claims under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) as part of a separation agreement. The scant caselaw construing USERRA has resulted in confusion over whether USERRA claims can be waived, and if so, what language a waiver must include to be enforceable. The article discusses practical steps employers can take to protect themselves from an employee bringing a USERRA claim after signing a separation or settlement agreement, such as drafting the waiver using clear and unambiguous language and giving the employee sufficient time to review and consider the agreement before signing it.

The Gibbons Employment Academy Webinar Series – Disability and Reasonable Accommodations 0

The Gibbons Employment Academy Webinar Series – Disability and Reasonable Accommodations

The second program in our Gibbons Employment Academy Webinar Series, focusing on Disability and Reasonable Accommodations, is scheduled for next Wednesday, June 29, from 8:30 to 10:30 am. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and the EEOC’s recently issued regulations explaining and implementing that Act have been widely touted as significantly expanding the definition of disability. It is anticipated that as a result of the Act, more employees than ever before will be considered disabled and will be seeking accommodations. Employers must understand what is deemed a disability under the law and what steps are necessary when employees request accommodations for their disabilities. The webinar will explore these topics as well as provide a survey of accommodations that have been deemed reasonable and those that have not.

Introducing the Gibbons Employment Academy Webinar Series 0

Introducing the Gibbons Employment Academy Webinar Series

As highlighted in our January “Focus on Training in 2011” post, training programs directed to human resources and supervisory employees are a win-win for employers. Whether as a primer or refresher, a legal overview and update on current developments will enable decision-makers to work within the boundaries of the law and reduce costs associated with employee complaints and litigation. Although employees are entitled to various protections under the law, employers must feel that they are empowered to make decisions and manage their employees, from the hiring process through separation.