Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pending California Amendment Would Make it Easier for “Sexual Harassment” Claims in California to Advance

In the midst of the #MeToo movement, the wave of proposed and actual changes to state sexual harassment laws is continuing. Earlier this year, we posted on a proposed change to Minnesota’s sexual harassment law that did not pass, but, as proposed, was intended to lower the legal standard for proving actionable “sexual harassment” in Minnesota. Now, California is pursuing a similar goal. Late last month, the California (CA) legislature passed a bill, SB 1300, that could have a significant impact on the ways in which employers need to seek to prevent and to respond to potential sexual harassment and discrimination in CA workplaces. Assuming that Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill by September 30, 2018, SB 1300 will amend California’s harassment and discrimination laws in several ways.

First, SB 1300 would add a new section to the state’s discrimination and harassment law that expressly articulates the CA legislature’s intent on how the law should be applied. A couple of the legislature’s declarations are worth noting:

Monday, September 17, 2018

U.S. DOL Issues Six New Opinion Letters

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has been busy. It recently issued six new opinion letters on various compliance issues. As described below, four of the letters involve the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and two of the letters involve the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While DOL opinion letters are issued in response to a particular employer’s submission of a question to the DOL, employers that rely on a DOL opinion letter in setting their practices have a legal “safe harbor” defense if faced with, as applicable, a FLSA or FMLA legal challenge. That being said, courts are not required to follow DOL guidance, and employers should be sure to be mindful of potential state or local law variances.

FLSA Opinion Letters

  • FLSA Opinion Letter 2018-20 addresses whether time spent by a nonexempt employee voluntarily engaging in employer-sponsored wellness activities, biometric screenings, and benefit fairs constitutes compensable time under the FLSA. The short answer is that, if handled properly, an employer can set such time up to be nonworking time that is unpaid. To do so, the employer must ensure that: (i) employee participation is voluntary; (ii) the employee does not perform job-related activities while participating; and (iii) the wellness and benefits activities primarily benefit the employee. Activities that are aimed at educating an employee to make informed decisions about their personal wellness, benefits, or finance choices are likely to be viewed as primarily benefiting the employee.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Student Loan Debt Preventing Your Employees from Saving for Retirement? There May Be a Solution

Recent college graduates (and some not-so-recent ones as well) are often saddled with student debt to the point that they do not feel like they can afford more than debt service, rent, and living expenses. Certainly, they don’t always feel they can afford 401(k) plan contributions. That means that, in many cases, the recent grads are leaving an important piece of compensation on the table—if you don’t contribute to the 401(k) plan, you also miss out on the employer match.

And yet, 401(k) and matching contributions are particularly valuable when one is new in their career. The younger you are when you start contributing, the more time you have to accumulate earnings on those early contributions. Starting early is a key factor in building up a nest egg big enough to support you in retirement.