Monday, January 14, 2019

Remember the New Minimum Wage Rules (And Don’t Forget Local Ordinances While You’re At It)

There is never a shortage of changes in employment law.  By now, Minnesota employers should be aware that Minnesota’s minimum-wage rates changed on January 1, 2019.  For 2019, the state’s minimum wage is $9.86 an hour for large employers and $8.04 an hour for smaller employers.  As you may recall, large employers are those with annual gross revenues of $500,000 or more. 

Remember, also, that your Minnesota posting needs to be updated. The revised poster pack can be found online at and printed. For federal government contractors, don’t forget that many of you must now pay a minimum wage of $10.60 (see here). 

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Judge Rules the Affordable Care Act Is Unconstitutional, But Law Remains in Effect for Now

On December 14, 2018, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act is invalid. The case before the Court was brought by 20 states, including Texas. The plaintiffs argued that the ACA’s individual coverage mandate was no longer constitutional, because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 removed the tax penalty associated with being uninsured. The plaintiffs claimed that, as a result, the individual mandate could no longer be upheld as a proper exercise of Congress’ taxing power. In addition, the plaintiffs argued that the individual mandate could not be severed from the rest of the law and, therefore, the entire ACA should be held unlawful.

The federal judge, Judge Reed O’Connor, agreed, holding that the individual mandate, “unmoored from a tax,” is unconstitutional. Judge O’Connor further concluded, based on the intent expressed by both the 2010 and 2017 Congresses, that the individual mandate is “essential” to the ACA and, accordingly, is not severable from the ACA’s remaining provisions. “In some ways, the question before the Court involves the intent of both the 2010 and 2017 Congresses,” the judge wrote in the opinion. “The former enacted the ACA. The latter sawed off the last leg it stood on.” The Judge ruled that, without the individual mandate, the remaining provisions of the ACA are invalid.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Avoiding Workplace Holiday Headaches

To make sure that “the most wonderful time of the year” stays that way, here is a quick refresher on how employers can sidestep certain employment law minefields that are common to the holiday season.

Religious Issues

December is home to Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice celebrations, among others. For this reason, a host of religious-related obligations can arise for employers under federal and state laws that prohibit religious discrimination and require reasonable religious accommodations.

Friday, November 16, 2018

St. Paul Joins $15 Minimum Wage Movement

After significant debate and discussion over a period of several months, the St. Paul City Council approved a new wage ordinance this week that will require a $15 minimum wage within the city of St. Paul for covered nonexempt workers. The City Council voted unanimously in favor of the wage change and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter signed it into law soon after.  

Covered Employers and Phase-In Requirements

Similar to the Minneapolis $15 minimum wage ordinance, the St. Paul ordinance will phase in the $15 minimum wage increase over time, and the wage requirement will apply to all time worked within the city by a covered employee. All covered employers will have new minimum wage requirements by 2020, but the rate of phased-in increases will depend on the employer’s size. The ordinance distinguishes between “macro,” “large,” “small,” and “micro” businesses based on their number of employees, with different applicable phase-in requirements. Under the ordinance, an employer’s business size is based on the average number of employees it had per week during the previous calendar year. For brand new businesses, the size will be based on the average number of employees per week during the first 90 days after the first person begins working for the business. In addition, in determining an employer’s size, all employees on a full-time, part-time, joint, or temporary basis must be counted whether or not located in St. Paul.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Wage and Hour Issues During Frightful Weather

I have been watching the weather carefully, because my family will be doing some tree trimming this weekend. As you can imagine, I was a bit concerned when I heard about potential snowfall. The threat of snow reminded me that inclement weather often results in questions from employers about how to address the related wage and hour issues that arise when they shut down their business for weather or employees are unable to get to work. In preparation for the upcoming winter snowstorm season, I offer the following guidelines:
  • What to Do When You Shut Down Your Business Due to Inclement Weather

Friday, November 2, 2018

Federal Agencies Update FMLA and FCRA Forms

If you are an FMLA-covered employer or you conduct employment-related background checks, you’ll want to take note that federal agencies have issued updated forms that may need to be incorporated into your practices. In September 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued new model Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) certification forms and, that same month, the federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) updated its “Summary of Rights” form for use in conducting background checks falling under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Monday, October 22, 2018

What’s the Latest on Joint Employer Liability? The NLRB Issues a Proposed Rule That Would Return to a Narrower Standard

Joint employer liability under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) has been a hot topic in recent years, because the NLRA standard has been in flux and joint employer status can be a significant issue for employers. For example, under the NLRA, a joint employer may be required to bargain with a union representing jointly employed workers. In addition, a joint employer can be subject to joint and several liability for an unfair labor practice by the other joint employer and can face labor picketing that would otherwise be unlawful.