DOL’s Final Rule on Sick Leave Takes Effect: Contractors Have Until Year’s End to Comply


On September 29, 2016, the DOL released a final rule requiring federal contractors to provide seven days of paid sick leave annually.  The rule implements a 2015 executive order from President Obama that we covered in greater detail here.  More than 35,000 individuals and organizations submitted comments on the DOL’s proposed rule.


Pay Raises Across the Nation? Not So Fast Say Several States and Business Groups: 21 States and 55 Business Groups Challenge New Federal Overtime Rule


On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, twenty-one states filed a complaint in federal court in Texas challenging the new overtime rule finalized by the Department of Labor (“DOL”) in May of this year.  The States seek to prevent implementation of the new rule, which is scheduled to become effective on December 1, 2016.  That same day, fifty-five business groups, including several chambers of commerce, filed a similar lawsuit in Texas federal court to block the rule.


To Free or Not to Free: The DOL’s New Overtime Regulations May Give Employees the Ability to “Unplug”—But at What Cost?


Today, mobile technology allows many exempt employees to work remotely and perform work outside traditional working hours.  Some commentators assert that the smartphone has stretched the traditional 9-to-5 workday into a 24/7 on-call period, where employees are expected to respond to work-related communications long after they leave the office and late into the night.  The expectation that employees will be available to respond on evenings and weekends, however, has sparked pushback, causing some employees to call for more work-life separation and the ability to “unplug.”  In France, this push to unplug recently resulted in a new law that gives employees a “right to disconnect.”  Under that law, many French employers soon will be required to implement rules governing work-life balance and reasonable use of digital tools.


Digging Into the New Overtime Regulations


In 2015, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposed substantial changes to the minimum salary level requirements, sought input on whether bonuses and incentives should be included in meeting the salary level test and considered changing the duties test to establish overtime eligibility. Taken together, these proposed changes would have had a drastic effect on the obligation of employers to pay overtime. On May 18, 2016, DOL issued its Final Rules and employers have until December 1, 2016 to comply. Overall, the changes strike a middle ground as DOL declined to adopt the more restrictive California 50% duties test. However, doubling the salary level threshold and other changes present significant economic and compliance challenges for employers. Below is a summary of key takeaways and steps employers should consider to address these changes and ensure compliance.


Not So Fast: Administrative Review Board Vacates Discrimination Finding Sought by OFCCP


A recent decision from the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board serves as a warning to federal agencies against overreaching in their efforts to identify alleged employment discrimination.  It also serves to highlight the heavy burden that plaintiffs—whether government agencies or private litigants—must carry in cases alleging a pattern or practice of disparate treatment.


We Get Out Our Crystal Balls on the Imminent DOL Overtime Rules


The prognostication efforts are going into high gear as employers seek to forecast and prepare where the Department of Labor may land on its final overtime rules.  As with all rules in the post-comment phase, government officials have not given any indication on when the final rules will be published (and become effective) or what they will contain.  Our insight is the final rule will be published ahead of schedule before the July regulatory agenda date, perhaps as soon as later this month.  The Congressional Review Act deadlines (described here) strongly indicate that the DOL will seek to avoid the prospect of any effective congressional action on the final rules.  As to the final rule’s content, we believe that the Office of Management and Budget and DOL are taking into account the political winds and other considerations before making a final decision.  Once published, however, the DOL can set the effective dates as early as 60 days which would give employers a very difficult compliance burden.


Game-Changing Overtime Regulations Advance to OMB Ahead of Schedule, Final Rule Could Arrive as Early as April 2016


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) sent its much anticipated final overtime regulations to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review on March 14, 2016.  Technically, this move came slightly ahead of schedule.  OMB now has 90 days to review, which would put its “due date” in mid-June – ahead of the July regulatory agenda publication date we previously reported.  However, as these overtime regulations are a top-line priority subject to intense political scrutiny, there is reason to believe OMB may not complete its review within the 90-day window. 


Protection for LGBT Workers on the Rise: EEOC Files First Title VII Lawsuits Alleging Sexual Orientation Discrimination


Earlier this month, the EEOC filed its first lawsuits against employers alleging sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII, arguing that Title VII’s protections extend to sexual orientation as a form of gender bias. In the lawsuit against Scott Medical Health Center filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the EEOC alleges that a gay male employee was subjected to harassment, including anti-gay epithets, because of his sexual orientation. In the suit against Pallet Companies d/b/a/ IFCO Systems filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the EEOC alleges that a supervisor harassed a lesbian employee because of her sexual orientation, including making numerous comments about her sexual orientation and appearance. The EEOC alleges that the employers violated Title VII, which extends protection to workers who are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. In both cases, the EEOC takes the position that sexual orientation discrimination necessarily entails treating employees less favorably because of their sex, thus triggering Title VII’s protections.


DOL and EEOC to Make 2016 A Challenging Year for Employers


Members of the Fair Labor Standards Legislation Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Labor and Employment Law recently met.  The meeting includes employer and employee advocates, as well as government officials.  The meeting often highlights not only the present status of regulations, policy and pending litigation but also provides a window into coming trends that may be important for employers.  We highlight a few takeaways.


One Step Closer to Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors


The Department of Labor (“DOL”) continues its regulatory dash to fulfill the President’s domestic agenda.  The agency issued proposed rules, that seek to make President Obama’s Executive Order 13706, Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors signed on September 7, 2015, into a reality.  The DOL solicits any comments on the proposed rules on or before March 28, 2016.  Once effective, employees of certain federal contractors would be entitled to paid leave akin to the leave now in place in 4 states, the District of Columbia, and 27 other localities that are entitled to paid sick leave.