Hunton Profile

Administrative Law Task Force

The Administrative Task Force plays a critical role in keeping our OSHA practice current and vibrant.  We follow developments daily and we work together to analyze the impact that proposed and actual changes will have on the law in general and specifically on our client’s industries. Employers today face an unprecedented range of workplace safety and OSHA legal issues as government increases worker safety and health regulation and demands meticulous reviews by its OSHA inspection force.

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Supreme Court Provides for Judicial Review of EEOC's Conciliation Efforts

The Supreme Court’s decision in Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC provides for judicial review with respect to the EEOC’s conciliation efforts in claims of unlawful discrimination against an employer. In Mach Mining, the EEOC filed suit against Mach Mining, LLC on the basis of sex discrimination, specifically, with regard to Mach Mining’s hiring practices. After the EEOC determined that reasonable cause existed as to Mach Mining’s unlawful hiring practices, the EEOC sent a letter to Mach Mining inviting the employer to participate in an informal conciliation proceeding with the plaintiff to attempt to rectify the charge. In its letter, the EEOC notified Mach Mining that an EEOC representative would be contacting the respondent in order to begin the informal conciliation process regarding the charge. Roughly a year later, the EEOC sent a second letter to Mach Mining, stating it had determined that conciliation efforts had been unsuccessful.  The EEOC then filed suit in federal court.

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The Changing Landscape of Same Sex Marriage Law

As the national debate regarding rights for same sex couples continues, more and more states are granting marital rights to members of the same sex.  Although we are only in the second quarter of 2015, five states have either passed legislation or have high court rulings that expand the rights of same sex couples.  And, in the coming weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule upon issues of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges, eventually rendering a decision that may have significant impact on both federal and individual state laws.

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Wellness Programs: A New Layer of Compliance

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued proposed rules (“ADA Proposed Rules”) on the extent to which employers may offer incentives to promote participation in wellness programs without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The ADA Proposed Rules apply if a wellness program includes disability-related inquiries or medical examinations, including inquiries or examinations that are part of a health risk assessment.  Health risk assessments are reported to be the most common form of incentivized employee wellness programs.1 Thus, many employers would likely be impacted by these new rules if finalized.

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NLRB Social Media Rules Continue to Surprise as Board Reinstates Employee After Calling Boss "Nasty Mother F*****"

Under the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”), employers usually may not discipline employees for engaging in certain collective or concerted activity, including comments regarding terms and conditions of employment, unless the employee’s behavior is so outrageous that it loses the protection of the Act.  But how far can employees push the boundary before their conduct will be found indefensible?

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Ambush Election Update; 40 Percent Reduction In Campaign Time, Almost 100 Percent More Petitions

As expected, the implementation of the NLRB’s ambush election rules has spurred unions to initiate organizing campaigns across the country.  As discussed in our previous posts and a webinar hosted by the Firm, the new rules make it easier for unions to organize employees through an expedited election process, and makes it possible for elections to be held 11 to 12 days after the petition has been filed.  Recently released data confirms that a significant increase in petition filings occurred after the April 14, 2015 implementation date of the new ambush rules.  To summarize, an average of approximately 42 petitions were filed per week for the month of March to April 13th.  From April 13th to the beginning of May, the average number of petitions filed per week shot up to approximately 60.  Such averages are deceptive, however, in that the number of petitions filed per week has increased every week since the implementation date, rising to nearly 80 petitions filed for the last week of April.

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ACA Update: Health Care Exchanges Begin Issuing Employee Subsidy Notices to Employers

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires the state and federal health care exchanges to notify employers if an employee has been determined to be eligible for a premium tax credit or cost-sharing reduction for exchange coverage. The notices are issued for those individuals who have been determined to be eligible for such a subsidy. As employers begin receiving notices, they should consider how best to track this information and whether it would be worthwhile to appeal the subsidy eligibility determinations where the information is incorrect.

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California Appeals Court Finds "Sun Worshipping Atheism" Not a Religion

The Fourth District California Court of Appeal recently held that a Department of Corrections employee’s claim that he was constructively discharged after being discriminated against on the basis of his religion—“Sun Worshipping Atheism”—was properly dismissed.  Marshel Copple is the founding and only member of a religion he calls Sun Worshipping Atheism, the core tenets of which include: praying in the sun; taking in fresh air on a daily basis; sleeping at least 8 hours per day; eating and drinking when necessary; frequent exercise; daily rest; and engaging in frequent social activities.

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Seventh Circuit Reins in Overtime in Alvarado v. Corporate Cleaning Serv., Inc.

On April 1, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided Alvarado v. Corporate Cleaning Serv., Inc., 2015 WL 1456573 (7th Cir. Apr. 1, 2015), an important decision interpreting the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime requirements.  The plaintiffs in the case were twenty-four (24) window washers employed by a company servicing commercial skyscrapers in the Chicago area.  The plaintiffs argued they had not been paid certain overtime wages under the Act.  The company, CCS, admitted it had not paid overtime, but argued that an exemption applied in the case to the FLSA’s overtime requirements.

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Virginia Becomes the Next State to "Ban the Box"

On April 3, 2015, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an Executive Order that “bans the box” and prohibits Virginia agencies, boards, and commissions from asking questions about an applicant’s criminal history on employment applications.

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Health Care Reform - Updated Employer Compliance Timeline and Checklist

The government has continued to issue a number of regulations and other guidance on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and related health care laws, including the following:

  • Final regulations on the use of “bona fide orientation periods” in coordination with waiting periods for health care coverage;
  • IRS forms and instructions regarding reporting of health care coverage by health plans and large employers;
  • Updated proposed rules on the required Summary of Benefits and Coverage;
  • Guidance regarding use of “skinny plans”; and
  • Preliminary guidance on the “Cadillac” tax on high-cost health plans.

We have developed a compliance reference tool to assist employers in developing a better understanding of what is required under PPACA and the required timeframe for any applicable changes. This tool contains a timeline/checklist, along with an appendix providing additional information on many of the requirements (which are linked to the timeline/checklist for easy access). See the most recent version, which has been updated as of the beginning of April 2015.