On January 27, 2014, in Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. v. Hoeper, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a former pilot’s $1.4 million defamation judgment against Air Wisconsin Airlines. The high court held that airlines are protected from defamation claims if they make a materially true statement to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA). The Court further clarified an ambiguity in the “actual malice” standard in New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). As a result, employers now have clearer guidance on what statements would be entitled to qualified immunity in response to employees’ defamation claims.
Articles Discussing General Human Resources Issues.
Bill Would Prohibit Employment Discrimination Based on Unemployment
A measure that would prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants based on their unemployment status was introduced in both the House and Senate on January 29, 2014. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) co-sponsored the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2014 (H.R. 3972, S. 1972) in their respective chambers. The bill would prevent employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or offer a job to an unemployed individual; prohibit the publication in any medium of an advertisement or announcement for a job that includes language indicating the unemployed need not apply; and entitle those discriminated against to bring a civil action against the employer or employment agency for actual, compensatory and punitive damages.
President Obama’s State of the Union Address – What Are the Implications for Employers?
Amid the usual litany of aspirational goals and objectives laid out during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama termed 2014 “a year of action” and announced his willingness to bypass Congress and take steps to raise the minimum wage without legislation. Specifically, the President said that in the “coming weeks” he would issue an Executive Order (EO) requiring federal contractors to pay their employees at least $10.10 per hour. As described in a fact sheet, the EO “will cover workers who are performing services or construction” and apply prospectively.
Senate Advances Temporary Unemployment Extension Bill
The temporary emergency unemployment compensation extension bill cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday when the chamber voted 60-37 to limit debate on the measure.
Some New Year’s Resolutions for HR Professionals in 2014
It’s the time of the season when many make well-intended resolutions for the New Year. Promises usually include ending bad habits and starting good ones. With resolutions in mind, what could human resource professionals focus on in 2014? In light of the current legislative and regulatory forecast, here are some possibilities (listed in no particular order) for consideration:
New Compliance Obligations for 2014: Fewer New Laws, But Important Changes for Employers
As always, the new year brings a host of new laws that are the product of our state and federal legislatures. Although many important changes were made to state and federal laws, 2013 saw a reduction of more than 30% in the number of labor and employment bills enacted as compared to 2012. While the total number is lower this year, these new compliance obligations are just as important for employers. This summary provides an overview and chart of new laws that become effective in 2014. As expected, California was again the busiest legislature, but no states were left out of the push to continue to regulate employers.
Employment and Labor Law Final Exam Answer Key
Thank you to everyone who responded to this year’s Employment and Labor Law Final Exam. We hope the exercise was challenging and informative. Congratulations to our winners, Melissa Nance (Sumter, SC) and Carol Williams (Charlotte, NC). Melissa and Carol will receive a basket full of goodies from the Gourmet Shop in Columbia, SC.
It’s All Relative – The Risks of Office Nepotism
Federal authorities recently commenced an investigation targeting a global financial services firm’s alleged practice of hiring the children of powerful Chinese officials, often through a program that used lower hiring standards for those with elite pedigrees, to help the firm win lucrative business in China.
2013 Employment and Labor Law Final Exam
As the end of 2013 quickly approaches, it is time to put your employment and labor law knowledge to the test with Nexsen Pruet’s third annual final exam. We will send out answers to the exam on December 17th. Be sure to email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 16th. If you score 100 percent, you will be entered to win a fabulous prize. Winners will be announced when the answer key is released next week.
Mandatory Pilot Obesity/Sleep Apnea Screening: New FAA Policy Thumbs Its Nose at New Federal Commercial Driver Transportation Law
On November 20, 2013, Fred Tilton, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Federal Air Surgeon, announced a New Obstructive Sleep Apnea Policy1 (Policy) the FAA will be “releasing shortly.”2 Under the Policy, aviation medical examiners (AMEs) must calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI) – a method for identifying obesity – for every pilot. Pilots with a BMI of 403 or more will have to be evaluated by a physician who is a board-certified sleep specialist, and, if diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, treated before they can be medically certified.4 The FAA’s Policy will issue despite new legislation restricting sleep apnea screening for federally regulated commercial drivers and opposition from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).
Workplace Bullying: More than a Dolphins’ Problem
Thanks to the developing news regarding the Miami Dolphins, workplace bullying has generated national attention. There has been considerable press of late concerning school bullying and its impact on children but it is now clearer than ever that in some environments, bullying can exist in the workplace and can cause serious damage to professionals and their employers.
Financial Regulators Propose Workplace Diversity Standards
This week, six federal financial regulatory agencies revealed their proposed standards for assessing the diversity policies and practices of the institutions they regulate. The goal is to promote transparency and awareness of diversity practices, in accordance with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.
SEC Proposes Pay Ratio Disclosure Rule
As part of the ongoing rulemaking efforts to implement portions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday narrowly voted in favor of a proposal that would require public companies to disclose the ratio of their CEO’s compensation to the median compensation of their employees. The proposal does not provide a specific formula for arriving at this pay ratio.
New OSHA Safety Standards to Apply to Airline Cabin Crew Members
Pursuant to a directive included in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FAA Act), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a final policy allowing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to apply and enforce certain safety standards for aircraft cabin crewmembers. Under the final policy, OSHA standards on hazardous chemicals, exposure to blood-borne pathogens, and hearing conservation programs, as well as rules on record-keeping, access to employee exposure and medical records, and the agency’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) anti-discrimination provision, will now apply to aircraft cabin members.
Restaurant Industry Newsletter (May 2013)
A number of well-known restaurant chains have been hit with lawsuits over the last few years alleging that their exempt managers or assistant managers were indeed non-exempt and therefore should have been paid overtime. These cases demonstrate that simply calling employees managers and paying them on a salaried basis does not insulate restaurant owners from liability under the overtime provisions of federal and state wage and hour laws.