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Federal employment law spotlight: FLSA, OSHA, wage discrimination

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

Two new resources on federal compliance and a legislative attempt to address last week’s Supreme Court decision on pay discrimination head this week’s news from Washington.

Overtime calculator

The U.S. Labor Department debuted a useful new tool that employers (and employees) can use to estimate overtime pay. The web-based FLSA Overtime Calculator Advisor asks a set of questions about pay periods, hours worked, hourly pay scales and additional compensation. Plug in the information—the kind found on most pay stubs—for any given employee, and the calculator delivers an estimate of the amount that he or she should have been paid including overtime.

Texas attorney Mike Fox, of employment law firm Ogletree Deakins, says he wouldn’t be surprised if the calculator proves most popular with employees double-checking their pay. “Hopefully, it will confirm that you are paying them correctly,” he writes on his Jottings by an Employer’s Lawyer blog.

Flu pandemic guidance for health care employers

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has unveiled new safety and health guidance to help health care workers and their employers prepare for a possible influenza pandemic.

Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Guidance for Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Employers is designed to be a comprehensive resource for health care planners and practitioners.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that a flu pandemic has the potential to kill millions worldwide. Various government agencies at the state and national levels are working to develop a coordinated response to the threat. Health care facilities need special preparation, as they must be able to continue functioning, even as some of their own employees become infected.

The new OSHA guidance offers information and tools to assist the industry in preparing for and responding to an influenza pandemic. It covers infection control and industrial hygiene practices to reduce the risk of infection, workplace preparations and planning issues and OSHA standards.

Should a pandemic occur, OSHA will furnish up-to-date information and guidance to the public through its www.pandemicflu.gov web site.

Wage discrimination legislation

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc. means workers who claim illegal pay discrimination must file their complaints within 180 days of the first alleged discriminatory act.

That’s not enough time, according to Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who say they will introduce legislation to amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They want the statute of limitations for bringing equal-pay claims to run from the date of each payment of an allegedly discriminatory wage.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting in the 5-4 ruling, noted from the bench that a worker may not realize that she is being discriminated against until after the 180-day statute of limitations has expired.

House Democrats said they will introduce similar legislation. No word yet on when Congress will take up the issue.

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