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SHRM Newsletter: SHRM Post-Election Analysis of HR Legislation

11/04/2010

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November 4, 2010

This is Utah SHRM Legal-mail no. 2010-16 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:

- SHRM POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS OF HR LEGISLATION
- CEDAR CITY DECLINES ANTIDISCIMINATION ORDINANCES
- REMINDER ABOUT APPLICABILITY OF STATE/LOCAL EMPLOYMENT LAWS
- GOVERNMENT ISSUES VETERANS HIRING TOOLKIT
- COMMON EMPLOYER MYTHS ABOUT THE FMLA

SHRM POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS OF HR LEGISLATION: National SHRM is out with its analysis of the status of pending HR legislation in Congress in light of the recent elections. Essentially, because the government now is sharply divided between the two political parties, the analysis concludes that many of the employment legislative initiatives proposed during the last Congress now have little-to-no chance of becoming law. These initiatives include provisions to: allow workers to unionize by signing authorization cards; prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation; repeal the “”Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for gay armed service members; and create comparable worth pay legislation. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives may seek to repeal the health care reforms passed by the outgoing Congress, but with Democrats in control of both the White House and the Senate, such efforts seem unlikely to succeed. The chances of passing comprehensive national immigration reform also do not seem too good, given that the two parties have fairly divergent views on what to do. This means that immigration reform likely will be left to state-by-state regulation for the time being. National SHRM members can find and read the full legislative post-election analysis here: http://www.shrm.org/Publications/HRNews/Pages/ElectionsChangeProspects.aspx

CEDAR CITY DECLINES ANTIDISCIMINATION ORDINANCES: The Cedar City Council recently declined to enact ordinances prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. The City may adopt them as non-binding resolutions and wait to see if the Utah state legislature enacts a state-wide provision. According to news accounts, Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Taylorsville, Salt Lake County, Park City, Summit County and Logan have adopted similar measures at the municipal level.

REMINDER ABOUT APPLICABILITY OF STATE/LOCAL EMPLOYMENT LAWS: The ongoing debate in Utah municipalities about the passage of antidiscrimination notices is an important reminder to employers that state and local governments, and not just the federal government, are active in regulating the employer/employee relationship. If you have employees who live in other cities or states, the laws of those other places likely will govern your employment relationship with those employees. This means you have to make sure you know what those laws say and abide by them, in addition to the national employment laws/regulation enacted by Congress and the federal government.

GOVERNMENT ISSUES VETERANS HIRING TOOLKIT: Veterans Day is just a few days away. Various federal and state laws prohibit job discrimination against veterans and impose various military leave requirements upon employers. With more employers facing the issue of departing and return service men and woman, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) has developed a new online toolkit to assist employers in the process of hiring veterans. DOL says the toolkit was developed as part it's "America's Heroes at Work" initiative. The toolkit features “a straightforward six-step process pinpointing helpful tools for a business to design a veterans hiring initiative. These steps include creating an educated and welcoming environment for veteran employees; actively recruiting veterans, wounded warriors and military spouses; learning how to accommodate qualified veterans and wounded warriors in the workplace; and promoting an inclusive workplace to help retain veteran employees. The toolkit also helps employers navigate the plethora of resources for hiring veterans available to them.” The toolkit is available at: http://www.americasheroesatwork.gov/forEmployers/HiringToolkit

COMMON EMPLOYER MYTHS ABOUT THE FMLA: A recent article in an employment law publication highlighted the common myths employers have about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These myths include the belief that satellite offices are not covered (they are if there are 50 company employees within 75 miles of the office) and that employees have to expressly request FMLA leave (they do not, they merely have to tell the employer of circumstances where the employer can reasonably figure out that leave may be needed for an FMLA-covered condition). Many employers also get cross wise with what they can/cannot do regarding FMLA medical documentation, return to work certification and how to coordinate the FMLA with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the worker’s compensation laws (i.e. the “Bermuda Triangle” of employment law). One of the best ways to deal with these myths is to have a myth-buster at your office…i.e. a leave czar. This means you have someone at the company who is designated as your “go-to” person on leave issues. This should be a person fully-trained in the various leave laws who can help train your supervisors on what they need to know and who also has access to the legal resources so often needed to fully-comply with these complex laws. Do you have an FMLA leave myth-buster at your office? If not, who ya gonna call?

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.