What’s on the Docket in 2015

This year is going to be an important year for employers. At the federal level, the Supreme Court will be handing down decisions on the following four cases this summer, which will surely have an effect on employers:

  1. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. — The issue in this case is whether an employer can be liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to hire an applicant or discharging an employee based on a “religious observance and practice” only if the employer has actual knowledge that a religious accommodation was required and the employer’s actual knowledge resulted from direct, explicit notice from the applicant or employee.
  2. Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. — The issue in this case is whether, and in what circumstances, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations to provide work accommodations to pregnant employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”
  3. Mach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — The issue in this case is whether and to what extent a court may enforce the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s mandatory duty to conciliate discrimination claims before filing suit.
  4. King v. Burwell — The issue in this case is whether the Internal Revenue Service may permissibly promulgate regulations to extend tax-credit subsidies to health care coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government under section 1321 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This case has the potential to dismantle the ACA.

In addition to the Supreme Court decisions, several federal agencies are scheduled to release proposed and final regulations that will have an impact on employers:

  • Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) — Proposed Rule on expansion of overtime eligibility.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — Final Rule regarding tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — Proposed Rule regarding the effect of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on wellness programs.
  • Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) — Final Rule interpreting the “Advice Exemption,” also known as the “persuader rule.” Based on the proposed rule, this rule would force lawyers and law firms that counsel a small business on most labor relations matters, and whether the business has a union or not, to disclose not only their work with that client, but also all fees and arrangements for all clients for all labor-relations services.

Beyond all the action at the federal level, we’re seeing a noticeable increase in the amount of labor and employment bills introduced by states this legislative session. Popular subjects of these bills include:

  • Paid sick leave.
  • Use of criminal history information.
  • Minimum wage.
  • Use of payroll debit cards.

ThinkHR will continue to monitor and report on these developments. In the meantime, download our Federal Compliance Chart which provides federal laws that apply to most private employers based on number of employees.

About Rick Montgomery, JD

Rick Montgomery is ThinkHR’s Managing Legal Editor and oversees the creation and management of ThinkHR’s online resource library. He is a licensed attorney with over 15 years of experience writing HR compliance related content.