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Searching for Articles published in March 2014.
Found 7 Results.

Obesity is a Disability?

Posted on March 21, 2014, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

A number of activities over the past several months have suggested that obesity is on its way to being considered a disability and therefore protected under federal discrimination laws and possibly the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act. No decision has been made holding that obesity is a disability under Wisconsin law, but several things at the federal level may change that view. First, the American Medical Association has recognized obesity as a disease in its new publication of the comprehensive list of diseases. (See prior Blog regarding caffeine addiction as a new disease). Further, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has withdrawn its prior guidance which held that obesity at less than the morbid level was generally not considered a disability. No guidance from the EEOC has been issued to replace this conclusion which raises a concern that EEOC may modify its position on the characterization of obesity as a protected disability. Concerns have also been raised about wellness programs that deal directly with obesity as perhaps falling under disability discrimination coverage. Employers must be careful not to directly target employees that would be considered obese or fail to consider medical treatment as a type of participation in the wellness program for those suffering from this condition. Simply stated, there is a change in the wind that may affect how we view obesity and whether it is considered a disabling condition under federal and possibly state law. Employers that have implemented a wellness program should be careful how that program is implemented and make sure that it does not create undue conditions for individuals that may be considered obese.

A New Game - Who is Exempt and Who Receives Overtime Pay?

Posted on March 13, 2014, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

As you may have seen in several news reports, President Obama is today directing the Department of Labor to re-write the regulations that identify who is exempt from overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Fair Labor Standards Act does not apply to executive, administrative and professional employees. There are certain minimum requirements to meet any one of these exemptions, but those minimum requirements have not been difficult to meet in most instances. We can now anticipate a change in those minimum requirements and an extension of overtime pay requirements to many more employees. Obviously, this is just the beginning of a journey. We are not sure how the regulations will be re-drafted, and we certainly can anticipate litigation challenging any changes to the regulations that expand overtime pay requirements. This is not something that we need to respond to immediately, but it is something we need to watch to see if adjustments need to be made to ensure that certain types of positions are still considered exempt and not subject to overtime pay requirements. We assume the target will be middle-level administrators and supervisors who are legitimately responsible for supervising a number of employees but do not exercise decision-making authority for the organization. This is always an area of questionable exemption because of the nature and scope of decision-making authority exercised by these positions. For now, keep an eye on the news and polish your game piece because we will be up to our knees in a new game in the near future.

Farm Succession and Estate Planning Seminar

Posted on March 7, 2014, Authored by ,

Best Western Plus Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites 3340 Mondovi Road Eau Claire, WI 54701 To Register, call 715.833.6200 Please Register by March 18th $20 per person; no charge for current CVTC students What Information Do I Need to Do a Farm Transfer Plan? Guest Speaker: Maria Bendixen, Chippewa Valley Technical College Instructor Successful Succession Planning Starts With Communication Ruder Ware Ag Consultant Mike Wildeck The Time is Right for a Succession Plan Linda Danielson, Ruder Ware Business and Estate Planning Attorney Medical Assistance Planning for Ag Producers Mark Munson, Ruder Elder Attorney Ag Lenders' Perspective on Farm Management and Succession Planning Moderator: Chris Seelen, Ruder Ware Business and Banking Attorney Lenders' Panel includes Marvin Schmit, BMO Harris Bank; Roger Swigart, AgStar Financial Services; and Terry Johnson, Pioneer Bank For presentation times, please follow this link.

First Quarter Touchdown for Student Athletes

Posted on March 28, 2014, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

Football players under scholarship at Northwestern University can unionize based upon a decision from the Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board. This is a touchdown in the first quarter for the student athletes as this is the first stage in a litigation that will likely run for several years. The Regional Director held that the student athletes playing football for Northwestern University (a private institution) could form the union called College Athletics Players Association which is sponsored by the United Steel Workers Union. A vote is likely to be held in the near future. The leaders of the Players Association want compensation for scholarships, medical expenses and an increase in athletic scholarship funding from the University. The fundamental question in the Ruling was whether the student athletes were actually employees of Northwestern University. The Regional Director concluded that they were "employees" because the University exercised a high-degree of control over their day-to-day activities such that they were considered employees of the University. This is an amazing stretch of the definition of an employee and could lead to a significant change in how we view whether someone is an "employee" of a company. The concept of independent contractors may very well disappear if this type of reasoning continues. Employers must be careful and pay attention to this ruling because it may change a fundamental view of who is an employee of a company. It is predicted that this litigation will extend for two-plus years before there is any type of final ruling so we don't have to change how we consider employees right now. It is, however, amazing to think that an athlete going to school is considered an employee of the university simply because they are coached to play football and subject to player rules as a member of the team.

Local Government Seminar - Spring 2014

Posted on March 26, 2014, Authored by ,

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, 2305 Sherman St, Wausau, WI This Local Government Seminar will focus on the impact of the anticipated Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of Wisconsin Act 10 and its impact on future labor relations and work rules affecting public sector employees. A panel discussion will be held regarding the impact of the decision and how to manage public employees in this new legal environment. If the Wisconsin Act 10 Supreme Court decision has not been issued, Ruder Ware attorneys will present on the following topics: Local Officials Code of Ethics requirements and compliance challenges; Taxability of non-wage compensation and benefits for public sector employers. Pitfalls of Municipal Real Estate Transactions and Fundamentals of Lease Arrangements; Recent Court Decisions Affecting Local Government Officials; Join Ruder Ware attorneys for an evening of information and discussion regarding topics of interest to elected officials and public sector managers. This seminar is free of charge and sponsored by Ruder Ware. Registration and Dinner 5:30 p.m. Introductions: 6:00 - 6:10 p.m. Register by contacting Shannon Nest at 715.845.4336, 800.477.8050, or via email at snest@ruderare.com Seating is limited, please register by April 22, 2014

Wisconsin Extends Net Operating Loss Carryforwards to 20 Years and Allows Additional Credits Against Alternative Minimum Tax

Posted on March 15, 2014, Authored by Amy E. Ebeling, Filed under Tax Deductions

Recently enacted Wisconsin legislation contained a number of significant changes to our state's corporation franchise and income tax laws that may affect your business's tax liability. For instance, among other important changes, net business loss, carry forwards under the corporation franchise, and income taxes were extended from 15 years to 20 years, applicable to tax years beginning after 2013. The new legislation also allows the following credits to be claimed against the alternative minimum tax (AMT), manufacturing and agriculture credit (for tax years beginning after 2012), the historic rehabilitation credit (for tax years beginning after 2013), and the research credit (for tax years beginning after 2013). In addition, provisions concerning the job's tax credit were amended to clarify that a business must increase employment in Wisconsin in order to be eligible for the credit. Previously, the law did not specify that the increase to employment had to be within the state. As always, our office is available to help you understand the changes in the law as they apply to your business. Please reach out to your preferred Ruder Ware attorney or tax accountant to discuss potential planning strategies that can help you take advantage of the changes and minimize any possible tax increases.

"Quickie Election" has First Hearing

Posted on March 10, 2014, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

We have written about the proposed NLRB rules that would allow for a "quickie election" process. The first hearing on these rules was held by a House committee even though this is an NLRB rule and not proposed legislation. The committee wanted to air some of the concerns that employers have expressed about this proposed rule. One presenter noted that over 65,000 people wrote comments opposing the rule in 2011 when it was initially proposed, and the new draft from the NLRB does not address any of those concerns. Another presenter expressed grave concern about the difficulties that small business will have under this proposed rule because small businesses do not have a labor lawyer on staff to help them respond to the information requests (demands) that exist under this new rule under a very short timeline. Another presenter expressed concern about violation of privacy rights because a business will be required to give the home address, home phone number and e-mail address of employees that are subject to the election petition if that information is readily known by the business. While there was grave concern about this proposed rule, there was little suggestion that there would be changes made to the rule. The National Labor Relations Board is issuing this rule in its administrative capacity and it will be difficult to stop that from happening. Businesses of all sizes must be concerned about this rule and the potential for an "ambush election" by a local union seeking to represent all or a part of the workforce in the business. We will continue to monitor developments regarding this rule and keep everyone informed.