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SHRM Newsletter: Wide Range of Comments Reported on DOL Proposed OT Rule
Posted on Oct. 26, 2015

This is Utah SHRM Legal-mail no. 2015-16 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:

-  WIDE RANGE OF COMMENTS REPORTED ON DOL PROPOSED OT RULE

-  FEDERAL CONTRACTORS MUST OFFER PAID SICK LEAVE SOON

-  EEOC SUES FOR FAILURE TO ACCOMMODATE PREGNANT EMPLOYEES

-  TOUGH NEW EQUAL PAY LAW ENACTED IN CALIFORNIA

-  COURT TO SAY IF EMPLOYMENT LAW SITUATION PASSES SMELL TEST

WIDE RANGE OF COMMENTS REPORTED ON DOL PROPOSED OT RULE: As you know from regularly reading these updates, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed new overtime exemption rules for the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The proposed rules would increase to about $900/wk the minimum salary for most workers to be exempt from FLSA’s overtime requirements. DOL received public comments on the proposal through early September. News outlets reporting on the nature of the comments indicate DOL got a quarter million comments, including a wide variety of responses to DOL’s proposal. One news story said supporting comments came from nonprofits, individual workers and some HR professionals. Businesses and trade associations largely opposed the new rule. Sometime this Fall or Winter, DOL will issue final rules, which will probably take effect sometime in 2016. Stay tuned for updates!

FEDERAL CONTRACTORS MUST OFFER PAID SICK LEAVE SOON: President Barack Obama has issued a new Executive Order requiring that certain federal contractors provide their employees with paid sick leave. This will apply to contracts (to be further defined in future DOL regulations) such as: a procurement contract for services or construction; a contract for services covered by the Service Contract Act; a contract for concessions; and a contract entered into with the Federal Government in connection with Federal property or lands and related to offering services for Federal employees, their dependents, or the general public. The order requires that employees be given seven paid sick leave days per year which can be used by a worker to care for himself/herself or family members. The order does not supersede other laws or agreements that provide greater benefits and an existing policy can satisfy it if it provides the same benefits as the order. The DOL must issue regulations to implement the executive order by September 30, 2016 and the order will go into effect on January 1, 2017. You can read the new order here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/08/executive-order-establishing-paid-sick-leave-federal-contractors.

EEOC SUES FOR FAILURE TO ACCOMMODATE PREGNANT EMPLOYEES: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a major federal court lawsuit against a retailer that operates 300 convenience stores in New Mexico and Texas. The lawsuit alleges that the employer broke the law by failing to accommodate pregnant female employees. The complaint alleges the employer failed to make reasonable job-duty modifications or shift accommodations, to allow leave or to allow other types of accommodations that would have allowed employees to continue to work during their pregnancies. This is one of the first lawsuits to test the EEOC’s relatively new legal interpretation that existing law requires that pregnant employees be accommodated in a manner similar to how the Americans With Disabilities Act requires accommodations for employees with disabilities.

TOUGH NEW EQUAL PAY LAW ENACTED IN CALIFORNIA: California has enacted a tough new equal pay law that takes effect on January 1, 2016. According to a California employment firm’s summary of the law, “A statement from the governor’s office says current law prohibits employers from paying a woman less than a man when they both perform equal work at the same establishment, but the new law will require equal pay regardless of gender for “substantially similar work.” The new law also will prohibit retaliation against employees who invoke the law and will protect employees who discuss wages.”

COURT TO SAY IF EMPLOYMENT LAW SITUATION PASSES SMELL TEST: The former controller of an East Coast processed-meat company has alleged that he was fired for a flatulence problem. The plaintiff claims that after he had gastric bypass surgery in 2010 to help him control his weight, he had extreme and severe digestive reactions that required he be near a toilet often and that caused frequent and unpleasant gaseous emissions. The president of the company allegedly repeatedly told the plaintiff that his condition was bothering co-workers and customers and fired him as a result in 2014. Presumably, the claim includes disability discrimination allegations and claims that the employer did not reasonably accommodate its former employee. The now well-known “firing for farting” case will now play out in a federal courtroom.

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Author

mikeAttorney Michael
Patrick O'Brien

Mike O’Brien is an experienced and accomplished employment attorney, media lawyer and courtroom litigator.  He is active in SHRM and has received the highest possible reviews from rating services like Martindale - Hubbell (AV rating), Chambers USA, Utah Business Legal Elite, Best Lawyers in America, Who’s Who Legal USA, and SuperLawyers.  HR Executive Online has named him as one of America’s most powerful 100 employment lawyers, but keep in mind, this does not mean he is good at moving heavy furniture.

Awards and Recognition

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Chambers 2011 Attorney

Super Lawyers
Michael Patrick O'Brien
 

Best Lawyers In America, “Salt Lake City Best Lawyers Employment Law Lawyer Of The Year,” 2011-2012

Best Lawyers In America, First Amendment Law, Labor And Employment Law, 2005-2012

Chambers USA, Labor & Employment, 2003-2011

Employment Lawyer Of The Year, Utah State Bar, 2001

Human Resources Executive, Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Lawyers In America, 2010

Mountain States Super Lawyers, 2007-2012

Utah Business Magazine, Legal Elite, Labor And Employment, 2006-2012