Big changes are happening in the realm of workplace compliance issues and labor laws in the United States. Noncompliance with government regulations can have serious consequences—and can cost your business big time. Keep up with what's happening between the government and the workplace with the HR Compliance Tracker: your go-to place to stay updated on some major workforce compliance issues.
Dems introduce bills to raise salary minimum for overtime exemption
On June 11, 2019, members of the House and Senate introduced companion bills to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The bill, called Restoring Overtime Pay Act of 2019, would raise the minimum salary threshold for exempt executive, administrative and professional (EAP) employees to north of $50,000 and automatically update the threshold every three years.
The Restoring Overtime Pay Act of 2019 would legislate the minimum salary for exemption under the EAP exemptions for the first time in U.S. history.
This law would fix the salary threshold at a level equal to the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage census region.
Read more about the bill here.
House passes bill to expand federal civil rights for LGBTQ workers
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity by employers, as well as in housing and other areas subject to federal law.
Today, several states, counties, and cities have already banned workplace discrimination based on a person’s LGBTQ status. However, not all laws prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. (Some offer protections for one or two of these, but not all three.) Employers can elect to protect LGBTQ workplace rights with their own internal policies even though federal law doesn’t cover these characteristics.
The Senate is unlikely to pass this bill. Later this year, the Supreme Court is expected to hear several cases that ask whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to gender-identity and sexual-orientation discrimination.
Find more details on this legislation in this article from SHRM.
The U.S. House of Representatives strengthens the Affordable Care Act
The House passed omnibus legislation, combining seven total bills, to support the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions and lower prescription drug prices. The bill requires increased transparency of all ACA-related activities by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
This includes bi-weekly public reports during open enrollment periods, as well as reports to ensure the HHS takes appropriate steps to maintain the HealthCare.gov website. It also prohibits the HHS from stopping automatic re-enrollment in ACA marketplace plans.
(While keeping up with ACA changes can be challenging, remember it’s still required for certain employers to provide information about the Marketplace to employees, regardless of whether or not they provide health insurance.)Check out this article from HealthAffairs to learn more about this new legislation.
Lawmakers considering adding gender identity and sexual orientation to Title VII
The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary is considering a bill to extend protections offered under Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity. If passed, the law would protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in the workplace, as well as housing and public accommodations, and provide easier access to federal programs.
Organizations such as ADP, Marriott, and IBM have voiced support for the bill, which offers advantages for employers as well as LGBTQ employees. For example, employers would no longer need to refer to complicated state laws protecting LGBTQ workers and could find it easier to attract and retain a more diverse workforce.
The bill was reintroduced this month after dying in the committee in 2015 and 2017.
ADA doesn’t require on-the-spot accommodations
In Brumley v. United Parcel Service, Inc., the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) doesn’t require employers to make immediate accommodations of an employees' choosing.
UPS employee Melissa Brumley injured her back while moving heavy packages. After shifting to a light duty position, she took leave and then returned to work with permanent driving and lifting restrictions. Her supervisor initiated the interactive process for workplace accommodation two weeks later, then scheduled a meeting with her the following month. During the meeting, Brumley decided to return to her original job, and UPS closed the interactive process.
Brumley sued, alleging UPS didn’t accommodate her disabilities and sought damages for lost wages and employment benefits for the time she missed. While the ADA requires that employers make reasonable arrangements for employees’ disabilities, the law doesn’t hold them liable if they engage in a process of good faith. In this case, UPS engaged in good faith by keeping Brumley informed throughout the process and offering her alternative accommodations.