Thursday, July 30, 2015

By the Numbers: The Summer of Employment Law

There’s no doubt that this summer is keeping human resources professionals and employment lawyers hopping.  With new proposed rules on overtime, benefit coverage for married same-sex couples, a few birthdays, and ongoing data breaches, there’s been a lot to take in.  We thought breaking down the summer’s news by the numbers might be helpful.

25:  The Age of the Americans with Disabilities Act

On July 26, 2015, the Americans with Disabilities Act turned 25.  What a life this piece of legislation has had!  Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sutton v. United Airlines, the ADA’s reach expanded in 2008.  That year, historic amendments made it easier for an individual to demonstrate a disability.

50:  The Age of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Last year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This year, the EEOC turns 50, with celebrations (and more lawsuits) around the country.

50:  The Number of U.S. States Where Same-Sex Marriage is Legal

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states when it issued its 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.  The decision has a significant impact on human resources, because many benefits must be extended and more qualifying events under the FMLA will be covered.

80°: The Temperature At Which California Employers Must Provide More Rest & Shade

The temperature at which California employers must provide shade and more rest breaks was lowered this summer from 85 to 80 degrees.  California employers should take affirmative steps, including adoption of written procedures, to handle the heat.

$50,440:  Proposed New Salary Threshold for White-Collar Overtime Exemptions

On June 30, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on its overtime regulations.  The new proposed rule would set the salary level for the so-called “white collar” exemptions at $50,440 per year.  If fully enacted, employers will have to review employee wage statements and work time to determine if employees earning a salary of less than $50,440 are entitled to overtime payments.  If no changes are made, expect this new salary level to go into effect sometime in 2016.

109,000+:  Number of Workers Reclassified by the U.S. Department of Labor

Last year the U.S. Department of Labor recovered unpaid wages and benefits for 109,000 workers improperly classified as independent contractors.  With the new “economic dependence test” issued this month from Wage & Hour Administrator David Weil, we expect the Department to continue its focus on worker misclassification and hone in on the “sharing economy.”

22.1 Million:  Number of Employees and Relatives Affected by the OPM’s Data Breaches

Earlier this month, investigators looking into the Office of Personnel Management’s data breaches disclosed that as many as 22.1 million employees and their relatives have had their personal information compromised.  The Chinese hacks resulted in the high-profile resignation of the Director of OPM after reports surfaced that the agency was using twenty-year-old technology to protect sensitive information.  With more and more data breaches and hacks every day, employers should be vigilant over the sensitive information they possess.

39, or maybe 54: Number of Days Until Summer Ends 

It’s 39 days until Labor Day, and 54 until the meteorological end of summer.  Given all that’s happened so far, we can only imagine what’s ahead in what’s left of the season.  We’ll keep you posted!

Posted by Kate Bischoff