On July 27, 2015, U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015 (H.R. 3226) (the “Bill”). The Bill would require that publicly traded companies more broadly and specifically disclose their policies and efforts aimed at ridding their supply chains of slavery and human trafficking. It is anticipated that a Senate version of the Bill will be introduced soon. The Bill is similar in certain respects to the United Kingdom’s recently enacted Modern Slavery Act 20151 and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010, which took effect in 2012.2 The Bill also bears some similarity to recent amendments to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, effective March 2, 2015, also directed at eliminating trafficking within government contractors’ supply chains.3
Articles Discussing Human Resources And Other Workplace Topics.
A Texas oil refinery whose substance abuse policy said an employee “whose drug test is positive, regardless of the reasons for the test,” would be considered in violation of company policy and “will be terminated from employment” meant what it said, a labor arbitrator has concluded. The policy, along with an agreement requiring that an employee seeking assistance for a claimed drug problem abstain from drug use, justified the discharge of an employee who tested positive for marijuana on a return-to-duty drug test, even though the cutoff levels for positive results were low. Valero Services, Inc. and United Steelworkers Int’l LLC, 134 LA (Bloomberg/BNA) 1704 (FMCS Case No. 14/500024, May 4, 2015) (Scheiber, B., Arb.).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have published a new report discussing trends in the growing heroin epidemic in the United States. The July 7, 2015 report examined data from the 2002 – 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which revealed significant increases in heroin use and addiction, as well as a 286% increase in heroin-related overdose deaths during that period. The greatest increases in heroin use have occurred in groups with historically low rates of heroin use, including women and individuals with private insurance and higher incomes. In the past decade, the gaps between men and women, between individuals with low and higher incomes and between individuals with Medicaid and private insurance have narrowed with respect to use of the drug.
The saying – never let them see you sweat – soon may be more difficult to accomplish with Microsoft’s Hololens. Like Google Glass, the Hololens is worn as a headset. But this device has a “plurality” of sensors that gather a range of biometrics parameters (heart rate, perspiration, etc.) which determine along with other information if the wearer needs help with something, and then tries to provide that help. Referred to in Microsoft’s patent application approved earlier this year as an “augmented reality help system,” the device’s applications and implications can be far reaching, as it is not hard to see, for example, why companies might want to adopt this technology to benefit their business.
Even Nebraska and North Dakota, conservative states wary of placing restrictions on employers, enacted new protections for pregnant women in the workplace, showing that both parties are heeding the complaints of their harried constituents.
A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would require employers to consider their employees’ requests for changes to their work schedules and to provide more predictable and stable schedules for employees in certain occupations with evidence of unpredictable and unstable scheduling practices.
A labor arbitrator has upheld the grievance of a school bus driver who was terminated from her job with a bus company after she brought alcohol-laced cupcakes to work, and offered them to other employees. He found that she was not fired for “just cause” under the collective bargaining agreement because the bus company’s policy barring the presence and use of “intoxicating beverages,” on which the employer relied, was inapplicable to the grievant’s alcohol-infused cupcakes. First Student, Inc. and Teamsters Local Union 957, 134 LA (Bloomberg/BNA) 1699 (May 26, 2015) (Fullmer, J., Arb.).
2015 has been a notable year for the passage and implementation of local mandatory paid sick leave (PSL) laws. In addition to statewide laws taking effect in California and Massachusetts, new local laws have taken effect in Emeryville and Oakland, California; Bloomfield, East Orange, Irvington, Montclair, Paterson, and Trenton, New Jersey; and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. New laws also have been approved, but will not take effect until 2016, in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Tacoma, Washington. In response to the surge in local leave laws, some state officials have attempted to curb local governments’ authority to enact such measures. New legislation in Michigan, Missouri, and Oregon demonstrate some of the varying approaches legislators have taken to curtail the proliferation of local PSL laws.
Montgomery County, MD and Oregon passed it. California had passed it, then amended it within days after its effective date. In Massachusetts, the Attorney General issued regulations to implement it, and a court said the National Labor Relations Act does not preempt it. North Carolina, Maryland and New Jersey (and likely others) are considering it.
Don’t look now—we may have made it through the July 4 weekend, but the seas are roiling for banks regulated by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). That agency has adopted new “safety and soundness” guidelines which impose important human resources-related obligations on large foreign and domestic banks.
Littler, the largest employment and labor law practice in the world representing management, has released its 2015 Executive Employer Survey. The report highlights the insight from more than 500 respondents on a variety of issues impacting employers. Littler’s survey of in-house counsel, human resource professionals and high-level executives from many of the largest companies in the United States also covered the economy and regulatory matters. The survey was conducted in April and May 2015.
The National Safety Council (“NSC”) has published a report entitled Prescription Pain Medications: A Fatal Cure For Injured Workers, urging employers to educate employees about the dangers of using opioid pain medications – such as addiction and death – while also taking steps to avoid potential liability in workers’ compensation and personal injury litigation.
In 1998 Hawaii became the first state to pass a so-called “ban-the-box” law, prohibiting both private- and public-sector employers from inquiring about an applicant’s conviction history until after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment.
On June 12, 2015, Mexico amended the Federal Labor Law (“FLL”), adopting the increase in the legal working age that was enacted through a constitutional amendment in 2014. (Click here to read our discussion of the 2014 constitutional amendment). The FLL – the country’s employment law code – codifies the constitutional amendment that increased the legal working age from 14 to 15 years old and from 16 to 18 years old (where applicable).
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 20101 (“Dodd-Frank Act” or “Act”) authorizes certain federal agencies to assess the “diversity policies and practices of the entities they regulate.”2 On June 10, 2015, six federal agencies (“agencies”) issued a joint policy statement establishing standards for assessing those policies and diversity practices.3 While the policy statement provides a useful framework for identifying important components of an effective diversity and inclusion effort aimed at expanding employment and contracting opportunities for women and minorities and evaluating such progress, the analysis involves a voluntary compliance scheme that does not require employers to implement these standards.