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Searching for Articles published in May 2016.
Found 10 Results.

How Do the New Overtime Rules Affect Your Business?

Posted on May 20, 2016, Authored by ,

Event sponsors:     The event is located in Room 133, the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County Auditorium.  It is fairly easy to get to by going in either the Main Entrance or the West Entrance; signs will be posted directing attendees to the Auditorium.   Lots G or B are available for parking.  In addition, the Marathon Park public parking lot is available; attendees should use the West Entrance, which is closest to the auditorium.  View the parking map.  Doors open at 7:30 a.m.; program runs 7:45 a.m. - 9 a.m. Registration required, limited seating available! Seminar Cost: FREE May 31, 2016 7:30 a.m. registration, 7:45 a.m. program Who should attend? Business owners, management, and HR professionals from both private and public sector Seminar materials and refreshments provided Location Change! Due to attendee interest, we've had to move the May 31 seminar from The Dudley Tower to UW-Marathon County.  UW-Marathon County Auditorium, Room 133 How Do the New Overtime Rules Affect Your Business? This week, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced its long-awaited rule expanding overtime protection for employees. This means a number of employees will be eligible for overtime pay instead of being considered exempt from federal wage and hour laws. The rule will go into effect December 1, 2016. We've fielded a number of calls from Human Resources professionals, business owners, and managers wondering how this new rule affects them. Ruder Ware attorneys Sara Ackermann, Dean Dietrich, and Kevin Terry will be presenting on this topic on May 31, 2016. The recent changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act will impact millions of employees. This program will provide background information regarding the recent changes to the overtime pay exemptions and background regarding calculation of overtime pay rates and keeping track of hours worked. For more detail regarding this rule, see the DOL's resource page by clicking here. For more information, contact any attorney within our Employment, Benefits & Labor Relations team. This week, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced its long-awaited rule expanding overtime protection for employees. This means a number of employees will be eligible for overtime pay instead of being considered exempt from federal wage and hour laws. T…

E-mail Communication to Board Members Creates Meeting?

Posted on May 19, 2016, Authored by Kevin J.T. Terry, Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

At our recent Local Government Seminar, a question was asked as to whether other states are aggressively enforcing open meeting or public meeting laws involving local governments.  A recent decision by an Appellate Court in Ohio shows that other states are actively enforcing open meeting or “sunshine” laws in their jurisdictions. In this case, a School Board member sent an e-mail to all other Board members advocating for action on a particular policy being considered by the School Board at an upcoming meeting.  It was determined that this e-mail communication sent to all other Board members constituted an open meeting of the School Board even though the other Board members did not specifically react or communicate their position in response to the e-mail communication from the one Board member.  The e-mail communication was between four Board members and the School Superintendent and was held to be a discussion of public business because the discussion involved a majority of the public body’s members.  The Court held that the conduct of public business could only be held in a meeting which meant a face-to-face meeting amongst the majority of the School Board members.  It was therefore concluded that this communication about a School Board policy which involved a majority of the Board members constituted a discussion of public business that was not held in a face-to-face format. One can easily see that this is an aggressive enforcement of the Open Meeting Law in Ohio.  It is likely that a violation of the Wisconsin Open Meeting Law would occur if an e-mail is sent by one Board member to a majority of the Board members and then there is an interactive response to that e-mail communication (typically using the reply to all function) such that a “walking quorum” of Board members would have occurred.  That is why elected officials in Wisconsin must be very careful about e-mail communication with other Board members and ensure that there is not a continued exchange of discussion and communication such that a meeting is taking place without proper notice and without proper access for the public.

NLRB Judge Trumps Casino’s Employee Handbook E-Mail Policy

Posted on May 9, 2016, Authored by Ruder Ware Attorneys, Filed under Employment

Last week, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board concluded that Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino’s (“Rio”) employee handbook policy addressing “Use of Company Systems, Equipment, and Resources,” violated the National Labor Relations Act.   The case is Ceasars Entertainment Corporation, No. 28-CA-060841.   In Ceasars, the Board ALJ was called upon to review the following handbook policy language that prohibited, among other things, the use of e-mail systems for:                 Send[ing] chain letters or other forms of non-business information. Rio employs both union and non-union employees at its Las Vegas, Nevada location [about half are union represented].  Significantly, Rio granted access to e-mail systems to numerous rank-and-file employees in connection with their jobs.   As such, under the Obama Board’s relatively new Purple Communications standard, because Rio gave these employees access to e-mail for work purposes, these employees must be permitted to utilize Rio’s e-mail system for union-related communications and solicitations during nonworking time.  The Board ALJ concluded that the above-referenced policy language, “essentially constitutes a ban on all nonbusiness communication via email”—even during nonworking hours.   For this reason, the ALJ found that the policy language was illegal.  The typical remedy in a case like this, which was implemented in Ceasars, is a cease and desist order requiring the employer to rescind the offending handbook policy, replace it with something acceptable to the Board, and conspicuously post a notice alerting employees about their rights to form a union [or not form a union] under the National Labor Relations Act. In light of Ceasars, businesses are encouraged to again reexamine handbook policies governing the use of electronic communications systems.   This decision in the most-recent illustration of the government’s hairsplitting in the employee handbook arena, and emphasis on e-mail policies in particular.  

IRS Announces HSA Cost of Living Adjustments for 2017

Posted on May 2, 2016, Authored by Mary Ellen Schill, Filed under Employment

Late last week the IRS announced its adjustments to the health savings account limits for 2017.  These limits are adjusted annually by the IRS for “cost of living.”  Since the IRS rules for cost of living adjustments provide that adjustments are only made in $50 increments, and even then only if rounding to the nearest multiple of $50 results in an adjustment, the fact of the matter is there weren’t a lot of adjustments made! Take a look for yourself here.  2017 looks a lot like 2016, doesn’t it?  Only one limit changes, and that’s the limit on HSA contributions for someone with self-only coverage (going from $3,350 to $3,400).  I will point out that the “catch-up” contribution limit has not changed because it is a statutory limit with no built-in cost of living adjustment. Even though it’s only the beginning of May, it’s never too early to plan for 2017.

Do Municipalities have to Disclose Driver’s License Information?

Posted on May 12, 2016, Authored by Kevin J.T. Terry, Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

On Tuesday, May 10, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that the Drivers Privacy Protection Act, or DPPA, a federal law protecting drivers license data, does not allow Wisconsin police departments to withhold driver information from accident reports.  This ruling reversed St. Croix County Circuit Judge Howard Cameron’s finding that complying with the Public Records Law was a police function that met an exemption exception under the DPPA.  Congress passed the DPPA in 1994 after a stalker obtained a Hollywood actress’s home address through motor vehicle records and then killed her.  The DPPA restricts the use of personal information obtained from motor vehicle departments.  Although Wisconsin Attorney General assured that this federal law did not require wholesale redaction of information from public records just because it might also be on a drivers license record, many municipal insurers advised municipalities to redact this information to avoid being subject to class actions under federal law. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals did not buy the City of New Richmond’s argument that the DPPA always preempts Wisconsin’s Public Records Law.  However, the Court was also unwilling to interpret the DPPA as allowing unfettered disclosure of personal information in response to public records requests.  The Court therefore sent the case back to Judge Cameron for more litigation to determine whether or not an exception under the DPPA existed allowing municipalities to redact certain information contained on a drivers license in response to a public records request.  As this case develops, we will continue to analyze how the decision affects municipality’s assessment of public records requests related to drivers license information.  If you have any questions, please contact the author of this post or Dean R. Dietrich at (715) 845-4336.

Overtime Final Rule for State and Local Governments

Posted on May 27, 2016, Authored by Kevin J.T. Terry, Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

The Department of Labor’s final overtime rule (“the Final Rule”) updates the salary level required for the executive, administrative, and professional (“white collar”) exemption to overtime pay requirements to assure that the FLSA’s intended overtime protections are fully implemented, including for state and local governments. The Final Rule updates the salary threshold under which most white collar workers are entitled to overtime to equal the 40th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest wage census region, currently the south. The Final Rule raises the salary threshold from $455 per week ($23,660 for a full-year worker) to $913 per week ($47,476 for a full-year worker) effective December 1, 2016. Neither the FLSA or the Department’s regulations provide a blanket exemption from overtime requirements for state and local governments, nor for public sector workers. However, the FLSA contains several provisions unique to state and local governments, including compensatory time. Comp time: State and local governments may arrange, through an agreement with employees, for their employees to earn comp time instead of cash payment for overtime hours. Most state and local government employees may accrue up to 240 hours of comp time. None of the changes to the overtime Final Rule affect the unique provision of comp time. Fire and police small agency exemption: The FLSA also provides an exemption from overtime protections for fire protection or law enforcement employees, if they are employed by an agency that employs fewer than five fire protection or law enforcement employees, respectively. None of the changes to the Final Rule affected this provision. “Work periods” v. “work weeks” for fire protection or law enforcement employees:  Employees engaged in fire protection or law enforcement may be paid overtime on a work period basis rather than the usual 40-hour work week of the FLSA. For example, if a law enforcement employee works a 14-day work period, the department’s regulations provide that he/she must receive overtime compensation after working 86- hours in the work period. None of the changes to the Final Rule affect this provision. Many employee of state and local governments will not be affected by the Final Rule changes. Hourly workers: The Final Rule will have no impact on the pay of workers paid hourly. Generally, all hourly workers are entitled to overtime pay or comp time regardless of how much they make if they work more than 40-hours. Nothing in the Final Rule changes that. Highly compensated workers: White collar workers who fail the standard duties test but are “highly-compensated”, earn more than $134,004 in a year, are almost all ineligible for overtime under the highly-compensated employee exemption, which has a minimal duties test. Elected officials: These state and local government employees who are elected officials are not covered by the FLSA and will not be impacted by the Final Rule. In terms of compliance with the Final Rule, local government employees have many of the the same options in front of them as employers in the private sector. Local government units can raise salaries, pay overtime above a salary, evaluate and re-align employee work loads, or utilize comp time as a way to stay compliant with FLSA requirements under the Final Rule. While many of these options are not desirable, it is important to understand them moving forward. If you have questions regarding how the new overtime rule affects your specific municipality or which direction in terms of compliance best suits your local government, please contact any of the attorneys at Ruder Ware in the Local Government Focus Team including the author.

Assigning Bathrooms – Reasonable Accommodation?

Posted on May 12, 2016, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

There has been a great deal of media coverage regarding how to accommodate a transgender employees’ use of bathrooms.  Logic suggests that maintaining private bathrooms that would be available to any employee would be the most reasonable way to address this situation in the workplace.  A 2015 decision in a case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission unfortunately held that providing a private bathroom was not a reasonable accommodation to protect the interests of a transgender employee.  The theory behind the decision was that the transgender employee should be afforded access to the available bathroom for the gender that the employee identifies with and a restriction to using a private bathroom was an unreasonable restriction for the self-identified transgender employee.  Transgender employees must have the same access to restrooms as any other employee in the workplace. This seems like an overly broad reading of the applicable federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination against an individual based upon sex or sexual orientation.  The law and decisions in this area are undergoing a great deal of review at this time, so it is hard to predict what would be the most appropriate way to address transgender employees and access to bathrooms.  The best alternative for an employer, at this time, is to not impose any limitations on access and react only if complaints arise from others in the workplace.  If a complaint is brought by other employees objecting to the transgender employee’s use of the designated restroom, the company may be obligated to address the situation - but until that occurs, it is most appropriate to remain silent on the topic.  Ruder Ware attorneys will monitor the pending litigation and provide further advice when things become clearer.

Today the DOL Announced its Long-awaited Final Rule!

Posted on May 17, 2016, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann,

Today the Department of Labor (DOL) announced its long-awaited rule expanding overtime protection for employees. The rule will go into effect December 1, 2016.  Highlights include: Raising the salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476 a year, or from $455 to $913 a week.  Note: This is lower than the originally proposed $50,440, however, the rule includes a provision that would require the salary threshold to be updated every three years—with an expectation that it would rise to more than $51,000 in January of 2020.  Also, up to 10% of an employee's bonus/incentive payments can count toward the salary threshold.  Raising the “highly compensated employee” threshold from $100,000 to $134,004. There are no changes to the "duties" test element of the exemption analysis.  For more detail regarding this Rule, see the DOL's resource page by clicking here. For more information, contact any attorney within our Employment, Benefits & Labor Relations team.

Today the DOL Announced its Long-awaited Final Rule!

Posted on May 18, 2016, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

Today the Department of Labor (DOL) announced its long-awaited rule expanding overtime protection for employees.  Attorney Sara Ackermann wrote a short legal update detailing the highlights.  In addition, the update contains a link to the DOL’s resource page.

2017 Health Savings Account Cost of Living Adjustments

Posted on May 1, 2016, Authored by Mary Ellen Schill,

The Internal Revenue Service on April 29th announced the cost-of-living adjustments for the HSA contribution limits and for High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums for 2017.   HSA/HDHP Requirement Cost-of-Living Adjustments Limit on HSA Contributions - Self-only HDHP 2016 - $3,350 2017 - $3,400 Limit on HSA Contributions - Family HDHP 2016 - $6,750 2017 - $6,750 HDHP Required Deductible - Self-only HDHP 2016 - $1,300 2017 - $1,300 HDHP Required Deductible - Family HDHP 2016 - $2,600 2017 - $2,600 HDHP Out-of-pocket Maximum - Self-only HDHP 2016 - $6,550 2017 - $6,550 HDHP Out-of-pocket Maximum - Family HDHP 2016 - $13,100 2017 - $13,100 HSA Catch-up Contribution Limit 2016 - $1,000 2017 - $1,000   All of the above are for calendar year 2017.   For further information, please contact Attorney Mary Ellen Schill, who prepared this article, or any of the attorneys within the Employment, Benefits & Labor Relations Practice Group of Ruder Ware.