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Recent Employment Law News for Jul 22, 2014
President Obama Signs Order Prohibiting Federal Contractors From Engaging in LGBT Discrimination
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:56:39 - Pacific Time
President Obama has signed an Executive Order, amending the 1965 Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from engaging in discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The President's Executive Order also amends Executive Order 11478, which covers the federal civilian workforce, by adding "gender identity" as a new protected status. .
President Obama Signs the “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” Into Law
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:11:00 - Pacific Time
President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law on July 22, 2014. According to the Department of Labor (DOL) the WIOA is "by far the most significant reform of federal job training programs in more than 15 years and a critical step toward helping workers and employers succeed in the 21st century economy." WIOA is a job training program designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with skilled workers. Congress passed the WIOA by a wide bipartisan majority; it is the first legislative reform in 15 years of the public workforce system. WIOA supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act, and the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. In general, the Act takes effect on July 1, 2015, the first full program year after enactment. The DOL will issue further guidance on the timeframes for implementation of these changes and proposed regulations reflecting the changes in WIOA soon after enactment. .
Goodwill to Pay $100,000 for Alleged Retaliation
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:34:29 - Pacific Time
Goodwill Industries has agreed to pay $100,000 and provide other relief to settle a long-standing lawsuit for alleged retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Goodwill retaliated against a worker, Mary Goulet, at its Lawton, Oklahoma, store. Specifically, Goodwill allegedly terminated Ms. Goulet after she testified on behalf of another Goodwill employee in a prior federal sex and age discrimination lawsuit. The consent decree also provides for injunctive relief intended to prevent future discrimination, including notification to employees, revision and dissemination of anti-discrimination policies, and live training on anti-retaliation law, in addition to the $100,000 monetary award. .
Governor Brown Signs Bill for Small Businesses Authorizing Continuation of PRE-ACA Health Coverage
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:19:00 - Pacific Time
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has signed legislation (SB 1446-DeSaulnier; D-Concord) that allows a small employer health care service plan contract or a small employer health insurance policy that was in effect on December 31, 2013, and that is still in effect, and that does not qualify as a grandfathered health plan under Affordable Care Act (ACA) to continue to be in effect until December 31, 2015. The bill thus provides California's small employers with additional time to prepare for full compliance with the ACA. Employers with less than 50 full-time employees are considered "small employers" under the ACA. Small employers should note that the ACA may count multiple part-time employees as a full-time employee. The ACA counts a combination of employees working 120 hours per month (around 30 hours per week) as one employee. If the total number of full-time equivalent employees exceeds 49, that employer would be required to provide insurance or pay a penalty for each employee. A business that employs variable-hour workers who may work 40 hours one week and not at all in other weeks, must add up the total hours those employees worked in a year. Divide that number by 2,080 (which represents 40 hours/week multiplied by 52 weeks in a year) for the number of FTEs.
Employer to Pay $1,660,438 for Alleged Overtime Violations
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 19:09:36 - Pacific Time
B & D Contracting Inc., a labor recruiting and staffing agency that caters to oil field services and maritime fabrication facilities along the Gulf Coast, has agreed to pay $1,660,438 in back wages to 1,543 current and former employees. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) found that the company allegedly engaged in improper pay and record-keeping practices that resulted in employees being denied overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The employees were assigned to client work sites throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to work as welders, pipe fitters and shipfitters. Investigators from the Wage and Hour Division's New Orleans District Office found the company had allegedly mischaracterized certain wages as per diem payments and impermissibly excluded these wages when calculating overtime premiums, denying employees earned overtime compensation. .
EEOC Issues Updated Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination
Tue, 15 Jul 2014 17:44:10 - Pacific Time
For the first time in more than 30 years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued new pregnancy guidelines, which emphasize that failing to accommodate pregnant workers is a violation of federal law. The guidelines were issued on Monday, July 14, after a 3 to 2 vote along partisan lines on the commission. They are intended to clarify an array of federal laws, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) which has been interpreted in different ways by employers and the courts. A fact sheet for small businesses and a question and answer document was also released. .
Female Yahoo Executive Sued for Alleged Sexual Harassment
Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:57:31 - Pacific Time
A female Yahoo executive has been sued for sexual harassment and wrongful termination by another female employee. The lawsuit involves Nan Shi, a principal software engineer, who has accused her direct supervisor, Maria Zhang, a senior engineering director for Yahoo Mobile, of allegedly pressuring Shi on multiple instances into having oral and cyber-sex in exchange for a "bright future" at Yahoo. Shi's lawsuit, filed on July 8 in a California court, accuses Zhang of unfairly downgrading her performance reviews in 2013. The complaint also alleges that Yahoo's human resources department did not conduct an investigation into the alleged harassment and instead placed Shi on unpaid leave and eventually terminated her. Yahoo is also a named defendant. Yahoo denies the allegations. .
Ninth Circuit Affirms FLSA Anti-Retaliation Verdict in Favor of Los Angeles Police Officer
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 20:48:32 - Pacific Time
Leonard Avila, a police officer, periodically worked through his lunch break but did not claim overtime. According to his commanding officer, Avila was a model officer. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), however, considered Avila insubordinate for not claiming overtime and fired him. The termination occurred after Avila had testified in a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit brought by fellow officer, Edward Maciel, who claimed overtime pay for working through lunch. Avila then filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired in retaliation for testifying, in violation of the FLSA. The evidence presented at trial was that only the officers who testified against the LAPD in the Maciel suit, were disciplined for not claiming overtime, even though the practice was widespread in the LAPD. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Avila on his FLSA anti-retaliation claim. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that "The uncontested evidence in this case is that Avila would not have been fired had he not testified. Indeed, an LAPD official confirmed at trial that the only officers disciplined for the overtime violations were those who testified in the Maciel action, and that Avila would never have been disciplined had he not testified." .