Latest Updates from SESCO!
Check out the latest updates from ASA's Human Resource specialists, SESCO Managment Consultants. SESCO is just one of the many member benefits available to all ASA members. To learn more about this and all of the benefits included in your ASA membership, click here!
OFCCP Provides Additional Information Regarding Federal Contractor Portal
The U.S. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP or Agency) has provided a number of clarifications and additional information about the portal. First, the Agency confirmed "OFCCP has not extended the June 30 deadline. Contractors that have not yet registered and certified whether they are in compliance with their AAP obligations should do so as soon as possible." Second, the Agency warned that "Contractors that have not certified will be more likely to appear on OFCCP’s scheduling list than those that have certified their compliance with AAP requirements. Contractors that have not certified compliance include those that have not utilized the Portal to certify whether they are meeting their AAP requirements, as well as those contractors that have certified they have not developed or maintained an AAP." Additionally, the Agency provided that "Contractors that have not certified compliance by September 1, 2022, will be included on a list provided to federal agency contracting officers. The purpose of this list is to enable contracting agencies to notify contractors of their certification obligations, thereby assisting OFCCP in securing compliance."
HHS Proposes Changes to ACA Nondiscrimination Rule
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a proposed rule implementing Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in certain health programs and activities. Section 1557 is the ACA’s primary nondiscrimination provision and portions of the provision went into effect the day the ACA was signed. The HHS issued implementing regulations in 2016, which were challenged in court. Under the Trump administration, a new rule was issued in June 2020 that eliminated major provision of the 2016 rule and limited the scope of Section 1557. In the newly-issued proposed rule, the HHS would reverse the 2020 rule, and in some cases, expand the 2016 rule. The HHS noted that the proposed rule affirms the protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity, and reiterates protections from discrimination for seeking reproductive health care services. For more, click HERE.
Federal Court Blocks Enforcement of EEOC Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Guidance
In June 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued resources on workplace protections for LGBTQ+ employees, including a technical assistance document entitled “Protections Against Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity." A federal district court has now blocked enforcement of that guidance. Among other things, the guidance took the following rather aggressive positions: employers cannot require a transgender employee to dress in accordance with the employee’s sex assigned at birth; employers may not deny an employee equal access to a bathroom, locker room, or shower that corresponds to the employee’s gender identity; and use of pronouns or names that are inconsistent with an individual’s gender identity could be considered harassment. In issuing the guidance, the EEOC asserted that it was explaining the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which held that Title VII’s protections against sex discrimination encompass sexual orientation and transgender status; however, the court found that the guidance extends far beyond the limited reach of the Bostock decision, in which the Supreme Court specifically “refused to decide whether ‘sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes’ violate Title VII.”
Hospital System Will Pay $10.3M to Resolve Class Action Over Mandatory COVID Vaccine Policy
Under a proposed settlement, North Shore University Health System would pay $10,337,500 to compensate approximately 523 healthcare workers who allegedly suffered unlawful discrimination when the hospital denied them religious exemptions from a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The hospital initially allowed employees to request exemption from the vaccination policy and about 700 employees did so, with more than 500 of the requests based on religious views. The workers indicated that their religious objection centered on all three COVID vaccines being developed from cell lines derived from aborted fetuses. The hospital initially denied all religious exemption requests, and about 400 employees, including those who filed this suit, appealed from that denial. After initially denying all religious exemptions, the hospital then approved all religious exemptions, but determined that providing an accommodation to any employee with an in-person role would impose undue hardship on the hospital. The hospital also initially granted accommodations to some employees seeking medical exemptions, so long as they complied with protocols including masking and weekly COVID testing. But then, the hospital ultimately directed that all individuals seeking exemptions, whether religious or medical, would be placed on unpaid leave.
Pennsylvania Amends Overtime Rate Calculations for Salaried, Nonexempt Employees
Pennsylvania employers with salaried, nonexempt employees may need to adjust how they calculate overtime premiums for these employees in light of amendments to the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA) that will go into effect on August 5. The amendments codify that Pennsylvania employers cannot use the fluctuating workweek method of calculating overtime pay for salaried employees. Employers must calculate the regular rate of pay for salaried, nonexempt employees by adding up all remuneration paid to the employee during the workweek and dividing this amount by 40 hours. This change in the PMWA is a significant divergence from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which permits employers to determine the regular rate of pay for salaried, nonexempt employees by dividing all remuneration the employee earned by the total hours the employee worked that workweek.
Average Hourly Earnings Decrease 0.5% in July, CPI Remains Unchanged
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that real average hourly earnings for all employees decreased 0.5 percent from June to July. This result stems from an increase of 0.5 percent in average hourly earnings combined with no change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Real average hourly earnings decreased 3.0 percent from July 2021 to July 2022.
DOL Recovers $908K for 482 Workers After Finding FLSA and Government Contract Worker Violations
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has separately recovered $908,779 in back wages, benefits, and damages for 482 workers due to reported violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act, and Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act. The violations related to misclassification of construction workers as independent contractors, not paying overtime, not paying the required minimum wage for government contractors, and child labor violations. For more, click HERE.
HHS, DOL, and Treasury Give Employer-Sponsored Health Plans Another Warning on Not Providing Contraceptive Coverage
For the second time in six months, frequently asked question (FAQ) guidance from federal regulators is calling attention to the requirement that employer-sponsored health plans provide coverage for women, without any cost sharing, for the full range of contraceptive methods approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).As the new FAQ guidance reminds employers, violators of the preventive care coverage requirements may be subject to the $100 per person per day excise tax. For more, click HERE.
Ensuring Your Employment Application Is Lawful
The days of the “one size fits all” employment application have come to an end. As federal, state, and local governments increasingly heighten employer hiring process requirements, national employers must be diligent to avoid getting tripped up by the varying rules across different locations. Specifically, two areas, based on state law, may expose employers to liability if asked about on employment applications: "ban the box" laws and salary/compensation history bans. Employers may order compliant employment applications on SESCO's web site, www.sescomgt.com