Happy Holidays, or is it? Steering Clear of Religious Discrimination and other Landmines during the Holidays!

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are wonderful, but can produce some dicey situations for your HR Department.

The holidays mean a lot of things to different people: whether it’s playing dreidel, decorating a Christmas tree, or doing nothing at all. Employers need to be mindful of the variety of different beliefs held by their employees. A couple of holiday planning suggestions to help you navigate these holiday landmines include: Continue Reading

Retirement Plan Hurricane Relief for Affected Participants

As we all know, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria severely impacted parts of Texas, the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico causing billions of dollars of damage. To help victims recover, Congress, the IRS, and the Department of Labor have issued special retirement plan relief for employers and participants located in those areas. Employers sponsoring retirement plans (401(k), 403(b), governmental 457(b) and similar plans) may want to make use of these relief provisions which offer

  • Extensions of deadlines for filings and deposits by affected employers and
  • Temporary relaxation of taxation, distribution and loan rules allowing easier access to retirement accounts for affected participants

This update gives a brief overview of the retirement plan relief currently available. Continue Reading

Florida’s Minimum Wage to Increase to $8.25 per hour –What About the Loonie, eh?

I originally hail from Toronto, Canada.  As an employment attorney now practicing in Florida, I enjoy comparing US employment laws with their Canadian counterparts.  So first, the news from Florida.

On January 1, 2018, Florida’s minimum wage will increase from $8.10 per hour to $8.25 per hour. This adjustment is based on the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the South Region. For a full-time Florida employee earning the minimum wage, the increase results in $6 more per week, or $312 a year, before taxes and deductions. This increase is more substantial than last year’s increase of $104 before taxes and deductions. Continue Reading

Headline News! HR Tips to Curb Harassment and Discrimination

While several well-known corporate executives, movie stars, government officials and other high profile people have been facing sexual harassment claims in recent weeks (and the list seems to increase daily), the issue is most assuredly not limited to those in the public eye.  All employers are wise to use the focus on this issue to re-assess their anti-harassment policy and procedure for handling complaints.  Additionally, it’s an opportune time to evaluate the culture management promotes to make clear that improper behavior will not be tolerated and to foster an environment which facilitates an employee’s ability to complain about offending behavior without fear of retaliation.  So here are a few points to consider: Continue Reading

Halloween is a Scary Time for Employers

I have always been fascinated when the shy people that I know suddenly become exhibitionists when it comes to donning Halloween costumes. Whether it is a sexy French maid costume from Victoria’s Secret or Captain Underpants® (from the Dreamworks movie), adult costumes have become much edgier. Those costumes are perfectly fine at a private party or a club.  But when those same people decide to wear these costumes to work, you better have your employment lawyer on speed dial.

If your workplace permits employees to wear costumes on Halloween or you host a Halloween party at your office, you can prevent many employee relations problems and possible lawsuits by reminding employees to use good taste and discretion when choosing costumes. Here are some additional tips to avoid being spooked on October 31st: Continue Reading

What’s the effect of the Sessions’ memo on transgender discrimination?

On October 4, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum advising that the U.S. Department of Justice will no longer take the position that Title VII (the law which prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion) prohibits discrimination based on “gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

What does this mean for employers?

The Attorney General’s memo does not change the law or overrule any court decision on this issue. Instead the memo only sets out the DOJ’s position on this issue. Continue Reading

A Return To The “Old” EEO-1 Form; EEOC Will Not Collect Pay Data In 2018

Employers can breathe a sigh of relief: The EEOC’s initiative to collect summary pay and hours worked data in the new EEO-1 form has ended … for now, at least.

Just last year, on September 26, 2016, the EEOC announced that the annual EEO-1 reporting process would change for covered employers (private employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50+ employees). Beginning in March 2018, covered employers would be required to submit summary pay data and aggregate hours worked by employees in the 10 EEO job categories (which did not change), in addition to the demographic data (gender, race and ethnicity) already reported on the annual EEO-1 form.  The EEOC redesigned its EEO-1 form and extended the submission deadline from September 30, 2017 to March 31, 2018 to provide employers time to collect and organize the new data. Continue Reading

Florida Employees: The Good Stand Tall When Bad Things Happen

Hurricane Irma! For Floridians, that’s all you need to say.

My family and I fled from Category 4 Irma. According to our Governor, this was “a deadly storm” the likes of which “our state has never seen.” We drove from Miami to what we thought would be a relatively safe spot – the city of Tampa. Hey-want to lose weight quickly and continue to have no appetite-just flee to a “safe” area (Tampa) that ends up becoming a hurricane’s bull’s-eye.

For all the anxiety, long gas lines, lack of electricity, lack of hot food, nonstop Weather Channel warnings, and crush of people on the road, I was impressed with so many employees with whom I interacted before, during, and after the hurricane. Almost all acted with grace and professionalism in the face of panicked and demanding customers.

Kudos to the food servers, managers, gas station attendants, police, housekeepers, stock clerks, cashiers, and store employees who were at their posts all along I-75 from Weston to Tampa both pre-and post-hurricane. Continue Reading

Spoiler Alert: Court Plunges Dagger In Heart Of Obama-Era Overtime Regs, Setting Stage For Season II Fireworks

Wow, this has been one crazy roller coaster ride.

Season 1 of this overtime soap opera kicked-off with President Obama directing the Secretary of Labor to “modernize and streamline” the “white collar” FLSA exemptions. In May 2016, the DOL published revised regulations that increased the exempt salary threshold from $455 per week ($23,600 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually), and even included a mechanism for automatic, future adjustments.  The DOL set the “go live” date as December 1, 2016.

Chaos ensued. HR professionals spent the next several months tackling compliance issues, and the financial side of the house spent the next several months asking, “How are we going to pay for this?”

Mid-season in the soap opera, with the presidential election around the corner, several states and business groups sued the DOL and sought an emergency injunction in a Texas federal court. Suspense. Continue Reading

Our thoughts are with those affected by Hurricane Irma

Dear Clients and Friends,

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, our thoughts are with you for a safe and speedy recovery.

We are back in business, fully operational, and here to assist in any way we can. We look forward to connecting with you soon.

Our regular blog postings will resume next week at BeLaborThePoint.com and CafeConLabor.com.  Until then, be well.

Warmly,

Stearns Weaver Miller’s Labor & Employment Department

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