“Mark of the Beast”: Fourth Circuit Upholds Judgment That Employer Failed to Accommodate Employee’s Religious Beliefs

A recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling highlights an employer’s mistakes when refusing an employee’s request for a religious accommodation. The case, EEOC v. Consol Energy, Inc., upheld the lower court’s judgment against Consol that it failed to accommodate an employee’s religious objection to participate in the employer’s mandated biometric hand scanner system. The Fourth Circuit also upheld the district court’s damages award to the employee of almost $600,000.

Continue reading ““Mark of the Beast”: Fourth Circuit Upholds Judgment That Employer Failed to Accommodate Employee’s Religious Beliefs”

Update: U.S. Department of Labor Withdraws Guidance on Independent Contractors and Joint Employment

On June 7, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it was withdrawing the Obama-era DOL 2015 and 2016 informal guidance memorandums on independent contractors and joint employment also referred to as joint employer. These memorandums were “Administrator’s Interpretations” meant to provide guidance as to how the law and related regulations with respect to independent contractors and joint employment should be interpreted and applied to employers.
Continue reading “Update: U.S. Department of Labor Withdraws Guidance on Independent Contractors and Joint Employment”

Federal Emergency Motion Blocks Enforcement of FLSA’s New Overtime Rules

On November 22, 2016, the Federal Eastern District Court of Texas granted an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the Department of Labor (DOL) from enforcing the new Federal Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime rules set to take effect on December 1, 2016. Since the district court ruling enjoined the implementation of the overtime rules nationwide, employers do not have to comply with the proposed overtime rules that would have doubled the minimum salary requirements for the so-called “white collar” exemption to required overtime pay.

Employers should be aware, however, that the ruling was a preliminary injunction. It will only remain in effect until the merits of the case are resolved by the federal District Court, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, or the U.S. Supreme Court.   Continue reading “Federal Emergency Motion Blocks Enforcement of FLSA’s New Overtime Rules”

Keeping Tabs on Independent Contractors

Is your organization classifying its independent contractors correctly?

The misclassification of independent contractors as employees continues to remain at the forefront of the enforcement agendas for both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL). In addition, as of this writing, 37 states have entered into formal memoranda of understanding with the DOL to jointly pursue worker misclassification. Many employers, both small and large, continue to struggle with how to properly classify their workers. The potential costs to an employer who misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor can be significant. For example, if an employer issues Form-1099 to a worker considered to be an independent contractor who is later determined to be an employee by the DOL, the employer may be required to pay back-wages, liquidated damages and attorney’s fees. He may also be liable to the IRS and Social Security Administration for unpaid taxes and other penalties.        Continue reading “Keeping Tabs on Independent Contractors”

Illinois Employment Law Short Takes

Two important Illinois employment laws take effect on January 1, 2017: the Illinois Sick Leave Act and the Illinois Freedom to Work Act.

The Illinois Sick Leave Act
The Illinois Sick Leave Act, which does not require employers to provide personal sick leave, applies only to employers who provide personal sick leave benefits to their employees. The Act does not compel any employer to adopt personal sick leave benefits, even if that employer does not already have personal sick leave benefits in place. Continue reading “Illinois Employment Law Short Takes”

Steering Clear of “Disparate Impact” for Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating in employment matters against older workers. Overt discrimination is easy to spot and relatively easy to prove in court. Most employers understand this and will (wisely) refrain from saying such things as, “Let’s get rid of the dinosaurs.” Continue reading “Steering Clear of “Disparate Impact” for Age Discrimination”

Volunteers and Independent Contractors May Be Entitled to Protection under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

Editor’s Note: Most churches make extensive use of volunteers in their children’s ministries. Churches need good policies to guide in the selection and supervision of volunteers. A good policy will mandate background checks for all volunteers.

John Doe pastors a growing congregation by the name of Growing Church (“GC”). GC operates a host of programs, including men’s and women’s bible studies, a ministry to the teenagers, and a thriving children’s ministry. Recently, one of the church members approached Pastor John and suggested that GC start doing criminal background checks on all the volunteers who interact with the church’s teenagers and children. Pastor John along with the elders agreed, and GC immediately took steps to implement screening procedures on all of its volunteers. Continue reading “Volunteers and Independent Contractors May Be Entitled to Protection under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”

Notice by Snail Mail May Be Out-of-Date

A federal appellate court recently ruled that the “mailbox rule” – a legal presumption of mail delivery when a stamped letter is placed in the mailbox – may be out of date.

In a case regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on August 5th that an employer did not prove its employee actually received notice of FMLA compliance requirements merely because it placed correspondence in a stamped envelope and put the envelope in the U.S. mail.[1] Continue reading “Notice by Snail Mail May Be Out-of-Date”

Get Ready for Pregnancy Accommodation Rules Coming in 2015

The Human Rights Act has long banned discrimination based upon pregnancy and childbirth, but new amendments recently signed into law—and effective on January 1, 2015—will significantly expand those protections. The amendments seek to protect pregnant women from discrimination in the workplace by expanding the protections available to pregnant employees and job applicants. Continue reading “Get Ready for Pregnancy Accommodation Rules Coming in 2015”

Medical Marijuana and Employment Practices

Last September, Illinois became the 21st state to adopt a medical marijuana law. The law is a four-year pilot program that will assess the value of legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Under the new law, users may register with the Illinois Department of Public Health as a patient with a legal prescription to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. The registered user may purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days from a state licensed dispensary. Continue reading “Medical Marijuana and Employment Practices”