D.C. May Require Paid Sick Leave

Posted on March 27, 2008 by Christy Pate

Washington, D.C. City Council recently passed the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, which requires all city businesses to provide paid sick leave for their employees. The Act does not become effective until the Mayor approves it and until a 30-day Congressional review period passes without Congress acting on the bill. If the Act becomes law, D.C. will become the second city in the United States to require employers to provide paid sick leave. San Francisco became the first in 2006. D.C. would become, however, the first jurisdiction to provide paid leave related to incidents of domestic or sexual violence. 

Under the Act, all business within the District must provide their qualifying employees with paid leave time that can be used in cases of physical or mental illness or injury, to care for a sick family member, for preventative medical care, or to cover certain absences associated with domestic or sexual violence. The number of paid leave days depends on company size, and certain employees are not covered by the Act. The Act also imposes obligations on employees who seek leave, including notification requirements for both foreseeable and unforeseeable leave and medical certifications in some instances. Finally, the Act makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate or retaliate against employees who use paid leave and requires employers to post in the workplace a notice outlining the provisions of the Act.

The D.C. Act is part of a growing movement – including the proposed Ohio Healthy Families Act (OHFA) – to push for paid sick leave laws. OHFA and the D.C. Act, which are similar in many respects, both would impose significant burdens on employers. Companies following this trend should continue to watch closely as D.C. and other jurisdictions, including Ohio, take action on paid sick leave legislation.

As for Ohio’s efforts to pass a paid sick leave law, progress on the proposed law seems to be at a standstill. After being sent to the General Assembly in early January, Ohio’s Healthy Families Act has received no formal attention by the legislature. Neither the House or Senate has taken any action on the proposal. It has not been given a number and has not been assigned to a committee. Ohio legislators have until early May to act. If they don’t, backers of the OHFA will have 90 days to collect a second set of different signatures to place the Act on the November 2008 general election ballot. 

Department of Homeland Security Once More Publishes Its No-Match Regulation

Posted on March 27, 2008 by Robert Cohen

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) again published the so-called “No-Match Regulation” on March 26, 2008. The regulation, first proposed on June 14, 2006, and published in final form on August 15, 2007, was withdrawn when the federal court in San Francisco enjoined enforcement actions based on the regulation. DHS now proposes to re-publish the rule in the identical form as it was published last August but with further commentary and justification. The supplemental commentary and justification reads more like an appeal brief challenging the district court’s injunction against the regulation than a review of the comments and considerations typical in Administrative Procedure Act proceedings. The regulation  has no new effective date, but the public is invited to provide comments before April 25, 2008. 

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Supreme Court declines to hear retiree benefits case

Posted on March 26, 2008 by Jamie LaPlante

This is an update to my prior post on January 2, 2008 regarding retiree healthcare benefits.

A legal battle dating back to 2000 regarding retiree benefits came to a close recently.  In 2000, the Third Circuit ruled that treating Medicare-eligible retirees differently than younger retirees violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  This prompted the EEOC to issue an exemption to the ADEA allowing employers to reduce or eliminate retiree healthcare benefits for Medicare-eligible retirees, while providing higher levels of benefits for those retirees who are not Medicare-eligible.  The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) challenged the EEOC’s authority to issue this rule.  The district court and Third Circuit rejected AARP’s challenge. 

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court, as anticipated, declined to hear AARP’s appeal on this issue.  This means that, absent Congressional action amending the ADEA, employers can now provide retiree healthcare benefits and coordinate those benefits with Medicare without fear of violating the ADEA.

Sixth Circuit Critiques Narrow Interpretation of Comparables

Posted on March 17, 2008 by Jenny Swinerton

Jackson v. Federal Express Corp., 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 4802 (6th Cir. Mar. 6, 2008), is the latest in a series of Sixth Circuit decisions addressing the similarly-situated requirement in employment discrimination cases.  In Jackson, the Sixth Circuit confirmed the fact-specific nature of that inquiry and chided the district court for its “exceedingly narrow” construction of that element of discrimination claims. .For employers, the Jackson decision highlights the need to rely on practical, meaningful criteria – viewed in context – when making employment decisions based on employee comparisons.

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