Employment Law

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President Obama has signed an executive order that will force companies seeking to do business with Uncle Sam to reveal whether they have violated any labor laws within the last three years. The order comes on the heels of other administration actions designed to compel federal contractors to adopt more worker-friendly policies.

The National Labor Relations Board’s lead attorney has determined that franchisors and franchisees—in this case, of the McDonald’s fast-food chain—can be named joint employers when workers file unfair labor practices charges. The decision could reverberate far beyond franchise businesses, aiding organized labor’s efforts to unionize low-wage workers and raise their pay.

Citing last June’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Windsor v. US, federal district judge John E. Jones has invalidated Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage. The decision could eventually force employers to revamp benefits programs to include employees’ same-sex spouses.
Prompt, fair resolution of harassment complaints is the best way to prevent litigation—and defend yourself if a lawsuit happens anyway.
Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced the Schedules that Work Act, which would give nonexempt employees the right to request flexible work schedules without fear of retaliation.
More employees are acting as their own attorneys when they sue employers or prospective employers. The reason may be simple: Word is getting around that some federal courts are making it easy to do.
President Obama made good on his June 16 promise that he would ban federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers and job applicants. An executive order signed July 21 applies to companies with contracts worth $10,000 or more.

Employees have to file EEOC complaints within 300 days of alleged discrimination or lose the right to sue. Similarly, they have to file state claims within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. If they miss those deadlines, they can’t sue. Repeatedly changing one’s mind about a situation involving an allegedly discriminatory act doesn’t extend or revive the deadline.

On July 22, a three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a potentially lethal blow to the Affordable Care Act, ruling that health insurance premium subsidies on which the ACA’s individual mandate depends are illegal in states that don’t run their own insurance exchanges. Two hours later, a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reached exactly the opposite conclusion.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology was schooled in the NLRA after it disciplined five employees who challenged lab policies.
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