The Sixth Circuit offers employers guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act’s ‘Interactive Process’

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On November 30, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in a published decision, offered guidance to employers regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (“ADA”) “interactive process” and what conduct may render the employer liable under the ADA.

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What employers need to know about ICE raids

Reports of raids by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, is all over the news. ICE has conducted raids at various places of employment all over the United States in order to determine immigration status.

It’s important to know how to respond if your workplace is approached by a federal immigration officer.

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Peanuts and other food allergies are on the rise; employers should take notice of this trend

I am in the process of planning my son’s fourth birthday party and a mother of one of the children invited asked me to accommodate her son’s peanut allergy as I select birthday treats for the party.

That made me consider how adults with food allergies may be affected in the workplace. I learned that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under the age of 18, and that number is on the rise. A study conducted in 2013 reported that food allergies among children increased approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, for example.

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Be aware of restrictions when hiring minors this summer

Memorial Day and end of school signify the beginning of the summer season so you may be looking to hire minor employees as temporary help in the coming months.

This can be an excellent solution to filling your vacancies, but be aware of some important regulations pertaining to youth employment.

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Sorting out the differences: Service animal versus emotional support animal

Business owners and managers take measures to ensure that employees and customers are safe. They want everyone to have the best experience possible in their work environment.

So what should an employer do when customers, or employees, bring animals into the workplace? Which animals must you allow on your premises, by law?

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Opinion letter prohibits delaying FMLA leave, or designating additional leave

The federal Family Medical Leave Act assists workers who might need time off for health emergencies, either for themselves or to care for a family member. The law provides unpaid, job-protected leave for certain workers.

These include private employers that have at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius, those employed by elementary and secondary schools and government workers at the local, state and federal levels. There are specific guidelines about who is covered and how long an employee must work to be eligible.

As an HR professional, employees have asked to use paid, or unpaid, time off in lieu of FMLA. Managers have also asked not to designate short periods of time off as FMLA. Neither of these practices are allowed. “Employees cannot waive, nor may employers induce employees to waive their prospective rights under FMLA,” according to the act.

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Test helps employers decide on unpaid interns

If you’re considering hiring a summer intern or two, you might wonder “Do I have to pay them?”

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service generally view for-profit business internships as employment. That means an employer must pay at least minimum wage plus overtime if interns work more than 40 hours per week.

But there are exceptions. The DOL created a flexible, seven-factor test for unpaid internships in 2015. Employers can now balance each factor as they consider their options. Read more

Workplace breast-pumping is a protected activity

In February 2019, a jury awarded a former employee of a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Delaware more than $1.5 million in damages for gender-based discrimination and harassment after the company demoted her for pumping breast milk while at work. According to the lawsuit, when the employee was hired as an assistant manager she was told that it would not affect her need to pump her breast milk every two hours, as her doctor recommended. However, immediately after starting the position, she was forced to work 10-hour training sessions with just one break during the shift. Additionally, the space she was allotted for breast pumping was the manager’s office which had windows and a surveillance camera that she was told could not be turned off.

When the employee concluded her training, she was transferred to a different location where she dealt with complaints from co-workers who asserted that she was allowed too many “breaks” to pump. She was ultimately demoted.

The jury looked at several laws in making their decision, but one was of important note in this case. When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the “Affordable Care Act,” or ACA) was enacted in 2010, it effectively amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require all employers covered by the FLSA to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has the need to express the milk.”

Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” This law covers nonexempt (hourly) employees. The time spent pumping breast milk need not be compensated unless the employer provides compensated breaks to the employee and if the employee uses that break time to express milk.

Although the provision covers all employers covered by the FLSA, there is a U.S. Department of Labor exemption for employers with fewer than 50 employees if the employer can demonstrate that compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship.

It is important to know that some states have more expansive laws covering this topic. If you have questions regarding how this affects your business, please contact the specialists at BCN Services at 1-800-891-9911.

Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager

Michigan’s minimum wage increasing on March 29

Effective March 29, 2019, the Michigan minimum wage will increase to $9.45 per hour up, a 20-cent increase from the current $9.25 per hour. The change came following a long debate in the Michigan Legislature, ultimately voted upon and passed into law by a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on December 14, 2018.

For Michigan employers, this means that all hours worked on and after the March 29th date must be paid, at a minimum, the new $9.45 an hour rate or higher. This agreement excluded any changes for tipped workers which will remain at the current $3.52 an hour rate.

Michigan is one of 20 states that will have a 2019 minimum wage increase. With so many changes, BCN Services encourages employers to reach out to their Payroll Specialist if they have concerns regarding their affected employees or if they would like assistance when navigating a state Department of Labor website (in Michigan, visit: https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-59886—,00.html) for the most up-to-date information.

For further information on your state or how this minimum wage increase may affect your employees, please contact BCN Services at (800) 891-9911. Our experts can advise on your employees and a best strategy to comply with the increased minimum wage.

For a history of recent minimum wage increases in Michigan, see this previous BCN blog post: https://www.bcnservices.com/minimum-wage-increases-michigan-take-effect-starting-sept-1/

Dani Austin, Payroll Supervisor

Frequently Asked Questions about posting labor law rules

Do I have to post labor law posters in my workplace? This is a very good question and if you have been given responsibility for poster compliance, consider the next questions when determining your labor law requirements:

Do I have employees on payroll?

If you answered “yes,” are any of your employees on payroll not your spouse? If so, then you are mandated by law to post the most up-to-date labor law posters.

Now that you have determined your need for labor law posters, you’re probably wondering where you should post them. According to poster compliance requirements, posters must be displayed in an area where your employees can readily see them. The most common areas to consider are:

  • A breakroom
  • A common room
  • Near the time clock
  • A lunch room or kitchen

Places that may seem like a good idea but don’t adhere to labor law compliance requirements include:

  • The HR Manager’s office
  • A gender-specific bathroom
  • Outside an office in the hallway
  • The owner’s office
  • In one specific department

What if I have two break rooms? Do I have to display the posters in both areas?

The best way to determine this is to ask yourself another question. Do all your employees have access to both rooms? If the answer is no, then we would suggest that you display the labor law posters in both break rooms. If yes, then you should be compliant with the posters in one break room.

What if my employees work on separate floors? Do I need to display the compliance posters on each floor?

Yes, you need to post the compliance posters on each floor because you’re required to post the labor law posters where all of your employees can readily see them.

The key word here is “access.” Your employees must have easy access to labor law posters. If employees are required go out of their way to view and read the posters, then the posters are not easily available to them. As an employer you are not following labor law compliance requirements.

What if some of my employees work in a separate building? Do I need to display the posters there? Yes, you should display the compliance posters in both buildings so that all employees have easy access to the posters.

What happens if my business is not compliant with labor law posting regulations?

If your business is not in compliance with current federal and state labor law poster standards, you are in jeopardy of receiving a fine or citation. Additionally, keeping your business in compliance by using the appropriate posters helps to remind supervisors of their obligations to uphold the law and protect your workers from injury, discrimination, harassment, and other important state, federal, and OSHA requirements.

If you still have questions about your labor law poster needs, contact your HR professionals at BCN Services. We are available to help you with all your compliance needs and can keep you up-to date on laws as they change.

Lisandra Garrow, Partnership Manager