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SHRM Newsletter: Health Care Reform Laws Hit Home

08/23/2011

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August 23, 2011

This is Utah SHRM Legal-mail no. 2011-13 prepared for Salt Lake SHRM, the Human Resources Association of Central Utah (HRACU), the Northern Utah Human Resources Association (NUHRA), the Color Country Human Resources Association (CCHRA), the Bridgerland Society for Human Resource Management and Utah at-large members of the national Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

CONTENTS:

-   HEALTH CARE REFORM LAWS HIT HOME

-   NEWS ON VARIOUS FILING DEADLINES

-   CHANGE IN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION OBLIGATIONS?

-   CALIFORNIA NIXES EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK ARBITRATION AGREEMENT

-   THINGS NOT TO DO FOR EMPLOYEE MORALE

-   CONFERENCE ON LEGAL ISSUES AND MORE

HEALTH CARE REFORM LAWS HIT HOME:  Sometimes you may wonder how some of the state and federal legislative attempts to enact health care reform and try to control employer health care costs are working.  The News Hour on PBS recently ran a news story focusing on how some of these efforts have affected small businesses in Utah and elsewhere, and featured in that report is Utah SHRM member Sharon Opfermann.  Sharon worked as an HR professional for several years before recently starting her own business, Camp BowWow, billed as “North America's Premier Doggy Day and Overnight Camp.®”  Here is a link to the interesting PBS news report that discussed Sharon’s efforts to obtain health care coverage for herself and her employees: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/july-dec11/utahhealth_08-02.html

NEWS ON VARIOUS FILING DEADLINES:  The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1972 (VEVRAA) requires Federal contractors and subcontractors covered by the Act’s affirmative action provisions to report annually to the Secretary of Labor the number of employees in their workforces, by job category and hiring location, who are qualified covered veterans.  The United States Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced that it is extending the deadline (to November 30, 2011) for federal contractors to file their annual VETS-100 and VETS-100A forms.  The extension results from the fact that the electronic system used for such filings will not be available until October 1, 2011.  For more information, see: http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/fcp/main.htm  Speaking of federal filing deadlines, remember that those employers required to file the 2011 EEO-1 forms must do so by September 30, 2011.

CHANGE IN FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION OBLIGATIONS?  As you all may know already, certain federal contractors and subcontractors must undertake affirmative action obligations due to such contracts.  These obligations typically include creating and annually maintaining a written affirmative action plan that analyzes the workforce for affirmative action opportunities and establishes goals for the same. The United States Treasury recently announced that effective January 1, 2012, various banks and credit unions no longer will sell U.S. Savings Bonds, which instead will be sold through the Treasury’s website.  Many such financial institutions became federal contractors subject to affirmative action obligations as a result of such bond sales.  Those obligations may go away once these entities no longer sell the bonds.  Thus, financial institutions should determine whether any other federal contracts impose affirmative obligations upon them.  If not, their affirmative action obligations may end in 2012. 

CALIFORNIA NIXES EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK ARBITRATION AGREEMENT:  A California appeals court recently refused to enforce an employment arbitration agreement based in an employee handbook.   The court concluded the agreement suffered from a number of problems, but one of them was that it was contained in an employee handbook along with a number of other policies unrelated to arbitration. For more information, see: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/resources.php?NewsID=3859

THINGS NOT TO DO FOR EMPLOYEE MORALE:  Employers often will schedule theme days and fun activities at work in an effort to increase employee morale.  A lawsuit filed recently in Utah federal court, however, outlines some events and celebrations employers may want to carefully avoid.  These would include "Mini-skirt Monday," "Tube-top Tuesday," "Wet T-shirt Wednesday," "No bra Thursday" and "Bikini top Friday," all events allegedly scheduled by one employer according to allegations in the sexual harassment lawsuit complaint.  Scheduling such events could spawn other fun workplace events, such as “Meet-the-EEOC Monday,” “Torture-by-litigation Tuesday,” “Weeping-over-legal-fees Wednesday,” “Tough-deposition Thursday,” and of course, my own personal favorite, “Fun-with-lawyers Friday.” You can read the full Salt Lake Tribune report on this new lawsuit here:  http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52334322-78/wright-anderson-complaint-states.html.csp

CONFERENCE ON LEGAL ISSUES AND MORE:  The Annual Crossroads Conference sponsored by the Utah Human Resources State Council is set for September 27- 28 at the Davis Convention Center.  The conference annually addresses HR law issues as well as a wide variety of other issues of concern to HR professionals.  You can get more information about the conference here:  http://www.utahcrossroadsconference.org/

Written by: Employment Attorney, Michael Patrick O'Brien
Utah State and Salt Lake SHRM legal director
Email: mobrien@joneswaldo.com
Phone: 801-534-7315
Website: www.joneswaldo.com

Legal-mail is a legal and legislative update service sent out about twice a month to various Utah SHRM members and chapters. As a courtesy to SHRM, the Utah law firm of Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough P.C. underwrites the costs of the service. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Michael Patrick O'Brien.

Disclosure: These updates are merely updates and are not intended to be legal advice. Receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.