New York City Council Passes Ground-Breaking Legislation Limiting the Use of Credit Checks in Employment

On April 16, 2015, the New York City Council, by a vote of 47-3, approved legislation that would prohibit the use of credit checks in employment decisions except in limited circumstances.  The bill, which is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill De Blasio, would amend the New York City Human Rights Law to make use of credit history in employment decisions an unlawful discriminatory practice.  In passing this law, New York City joins the growing number of states and municipalities that have enacted legislation to restrict the ability of employers to request or use the credit history of applicants and employees.  These state and local initiatives stem from the increased use of credit history as an employment screening tool and from concerns that credit history is not relevant to the performance of many jobs, and moreover, may adversely affect certain groups, including minorities and low-income individuals.  The New York City bill is noteworthy in that it is one of the most restrictive laws to date, even after certain exceptions were added to the proposed legislation.

Read More

Airline Tragedy Prompts Renewed Discussion on Employment Inquiries into Mental Health

As the world reels in the wake of last month’s shocking crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in France, many are questioning what, if anything, the airline should—or could—have done to prevent the tragedy. These questions necessarily touch on important issues about what an employer is permitted to address in pre- and post-employment medical screenings concerning an employee’s mental health.

Read More

Are You Breaking The Rules? NLRB General Counsel Issues Extensive Report On Employer Rules and Handbooks

On March 18, 2015, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a report (General Counsel Memorandum GC 15-04) summarizing recent NLRB enforcement action regarding many common employment policies. The report is relevant to nearly all private employers, regardless of whether they have union represented employees.  It is troubling because it finds that many seemingly innocuous, sensible employer handbook provisions and policies are unlawful because they could potentially be interpreted to chill employees’ rights to engage in concerted protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

Read More

Can Anyone Stop Them? NLRB’s New “Quickie” Union Election Rules Set To Take Effect April 14.

On December 12, 2014 the NLRB adopted new union election rules, claiming that they will “modernize and streamline the process for resolving representation disputes.”  These rules will become effective April 14th of this year.

Read More

And the Oscar Goes to . . . Equal Pay?  Arquette’s Oscar Speech Sparks Comparable Worth Bill in California

Just in time for Women’s History Month, California State Senator and Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Hannah-Beth Jackson, introduced Senate Bill 358 (SB 358), which seeks to narrow the gender pay gap in California.  Citing best supporting actress Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar acceptance speech where she called for, “wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women,” Senator Jackson hopes to turn that rallying cry into concrete legislation in California.

Read More

“Reporting for Duty”: Employers May Face Extended Obligations to Reemploy Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder under USERRA

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”), 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301–4335, not only prohibits discrimination against employees and potential employees based on their military service, it also imposes certain obligations on employers with respect to employees returning to work after a period of service in the U.S. military.

Read More

IRS Announces That It Will No Longer Refund FICA Taxes on Severance Payments

The IRS recently announced that severance payments are taxable wages under FICA, and thus employers who seek tax refunds on those payments will be denied.  The IRS’s position reflects the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Quality Stores, Inc., issued in March of last year.

Read More

Prognosis Negative: You’re Not Immune to Company Policy Under California Leave Law

In Richey v. Autonation, Inc., issued January 29, 2015, the California Supreme Court reinstated an arbitration award against the plaintiff and confirmed that employers retain the right to terminate employees who violate company policy even while they are on a leave of absence under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

Read More

Chicken Soup for CA Employers: How to Stay Healthy When Implementing Your Sick Leave Plan

The new California paid sick leave law is now “in effect” (as we reported here and here) and you are ramping up your HR and payroll team to get ready for July 1 when employees can start accruing sick leave under the law.  But now that you’re digging into the details, you’re realizing that this isn’t as easy as you thought.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  There are a few subtleties to the sick leave law that are catching more than a few employers off guard.  But fear not, here are some tips to help you implement your sick leave plan:

Read More

Employees Snooze, Employers Lose: California Supreme Court Delivers Wake Up Call to Employers of On-Call Security Workers

In Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc., issued on January 8, 2015, the California Supreme Court ruled that security guards are entitled to compensation for all on-call hours spent at their assigned worksites, even when they are engaged in certain personal activities or sleep.

Read More