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- Labor and Employment Alert: It’s Final: The Department of Labor’s Final Rule on LGBT Protections in Federal ContractsEighteen states and the District of Columbia currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees (LGBT). In July 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13672, which extended this protection by prohibiting discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracts.
- Whistleblower Defense Alert: Department of Justice Announces Third Straight Year of Record-Breaking False Claims Act RecoveriesAccording to a recent Department of Justice press release regarding annual False Claims Act (FCA) recoveries, FCA recoveries continue to skyrocket, in keeping with the trend in recent years. 2014 marks the third straight year in which the Department of Justice has announced a record-setting annual recovery.
- The use of independent contractors in the oil and gas industry is typical and its advantages are obvious. However, decisions about when and how to use independent contractors might be made without full consideration of potential problems or the ever-looming and potentially significant risks of misclassification.
- Labor and Employment Alert: Expanding Title VII: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Transgender DiscriminationLed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal agencies are beginning to focus on sexual orientation, gender identity and transgender discrimination. While the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has been introduced in every Congress since 1994, is unlikely to gain traction in the new Republican-controlled Congress, the EEOC and Department of Labor (DOL) have made lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues an enforcement priority.
- On November 26, 2014, U.S. EPA proposed a more stringent national ambient air quality standard for ozone. The Clean Air Act requires U.S. EPA to establish two air quality standards for ozone: a primary standard, to protect public health with an “adequate margin of safety”; and a secondary standard, to protect the public welfare. U.S. EPA’s proposal reduces the current primary and secondary ozone standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a level that is proposed to be between 65 and 70 ppb.
- On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a number of executive actions (also known as the Immigration Accountability Executive Actions). One of the executive actions focused on policies supporting U.S. high-skilled businesses and workers. A link to this executive action can be found here. In this action, President Obama directs new policies and regulations that will support our country’s high-skilled businesses and workers by improving the ability of U.S. businesses to hire and retain highly skilled foreign-born workers, while also providing the workers with increased flexibility to make natural advancements with their current employers or seek similar opportunities elsewhere.
- Even the best businesses cannot always keep every customer, employee, business partner, or other party happy at all times. Unfortunately, in this day and age, many of these disgruntled parties will choose to take their complaints public by posting disparaging information or content about a company online, which can cause significant damage.
- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a decision reaffirming its much-maligned 2012 D.R. Horton opinion. In D.R. Horton, the NLRB held that an employer could not require employees to resolve employment-related claims through individual arbitrations, thereby waiving their right to proceed in a collective or class action.
- On November 13, 2014, Ohio EPA issued draft amendments to the rules in OAC Chapter 3745-31 governing the Permit-to-Install New Sources and Permit-to-Install and Operate Program, including a new permit-by-rule (PBR) provision for emissions from horizontal well completion operations (OAC 3745-31-03(C)(2)(m)).
- Recent lawsuits, in Ohio and beyond, have accentuated the risks institutions face under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when it comes to how Mortgage Loan Officers (MLOs) are paid. U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) activity in the past several years has further increased those risks.
- Labor and Employment Alert: Agency Guidance on Health Plan Strategies that Don’t Work as Advertised and Other Employee Benefit NewsStarting in 2015, a large employer will be subject to pay or play penalties if it fails to offer affordable health coverage that provides at least minimum value to its full-time employees. A health plan provides “minimum value” if it is designed to pay at least 60% of the total cost of medical services for a standard population. This is generally equivalent to a bronze level plan sold in the public health insurance Exchange.
- Businesses will be best equipped to handle online reputation attacks if they take steps upfront to protect their reputations; take preventative measures to try to thwart or limit attacks; and plan out how to address attacks if (or when) they really do occur.
- This alert details results of the 2014 general election.
- Voters in four states and two California cities yesterday faced ballot initiatives proposing to raise the state minimum wage. All were passed. Alaska will raise its minimum wage from $7.75 an hour to $8.75 on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2016. The measure also provides for automatic yearly increases after 2016 based upon inflation, and further provides for an automatic increase should their minimum wage ever be less than $1 over the federal minimum wage. The measure included language that specifically indicated that tips and gratuities do not count towards a worker’s wage.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had set November 5, 2014 as the deadline for all but the smallest self-insured health plans to obtain a health plan identification number (HPID). On October 31, 2014 – less than a week before that deadline (and three days after publishing new FAQs on the process) – CMS announced an indefinite delay in the requirement that health plans get HPIDs.
- Although the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) have agreed on standards for wellness programs, and Congress seemed to have blessed those standards when it authorized higher levels of incentives in wellness programs as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has long expressed concerns about those standards.
- A federal district court in Virginia last week tentatively approved a $4 million settlement between Dollar General and a nationwide class of job applicants to settle a proposed class action claiming that the company did not properly notify more than 100,000 job applicants since 2007 that they would be screened by background checks.
- One person with Ebola, technically known as the Ebola hemorrhagic virus, and sometimes called the Ebola Virus Disease, has died in the United States. Two others, health care workers who treated the first patient, have been diagnosed with the illness.
- Whistleblower Defense Alert: Court Finds Relator Ill-Suited To Question Federal Agency’s Judgment, Tosses Qui Tam SuitLast week, the District of Kansas granted summary judgment to Boeing in U.S. ex rel. Smith v. The Boeing Company, Case No. 05-10730MLB (D. Kan.), a False Claims Act case in which the qui tam relators effectively tried to second-guess the professional judgment of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
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