Employer Law Report

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Ohio BWC Offers a One-Time Waiver of Penalties to Employers Who Fail to Timely Pay Premiums

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has implemented a new policy for employers who fail to pay premiums timely.

Pursuant to Governor Kasich’s Common Sense Initiative, in an effort to attract and retain business in Ohio, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will permit an employer one violation of the reporting deadline for payroll and waive any associated penalties with the violation.

If an employer fails to pay premiums timely and the employer’s coverage lapses, the employer becomes liable for late payments, interest and claim costs on claims that occur during the lapse. Previously, the only way an employer could be …

First “Facebook Firing” Case Decided by NLRB Administrative Law Judge

Earlier this year, speculation and educated guesses gave way to NLRB General Counsel Advice Memoranda on how the NLRB will address unfair labor practice charges challenging so-called Facebook firing cases. Now we have our first charge that actually has gone to hearing and resulted in an Administrative Law Judge decision.

In Hispanics United of Buffalo, Inc., the employer, a not-for-profit corporation that renders social services to economically deprived residents of Buffalo, New York, terminated five employees for their comments on Facebook after a co-worker had raised concerns about the job performance of other HUB employees. Apparently concerned that the …

Healthy Families Act of 2009 Introduced in Congress

On May 18, 2009, Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, introduced the Healthy Families Act of 2009 (H.R. 2460) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, which is largely the same as bills issued in prior sessions of Congress, would require employers with more than 15 employees to provide workers with up to 56 hours of paid sick leave each year. Under the bill, workers would accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, could begin using the paid sick leave after 60 days of employment, and could roll over …

President-Elect Obama to Pick Representative Hilda Solis (D. Cal.) as Secretary of Labor

Numerous news reports suggest that President-Elect Obama will name California Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D. Cal.), who was a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, as his administration’s Secretary of Labor. Both the SEIU and the AFL-CIO have issued press releases enthusiastically responding to this news. Those of you who are curious or wary about this selection may wish to visit her website at http://solis.house.gov

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Adopts Final Rule on Hours of Service for Commercial Vehicle Drivers

On November 18, 2008, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA ) issued a news release stating its adoption as final the provisions of the Agency’s December 17, 2007, interim final rule concerning hours of service (HOS) for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. This final rule allows CMV drivers to continue to drive up to 11 hours within a 14-hour, non-extendable window from the start of the workday, following at  least 10 consecutive hours off duty (11-hour rule). Drivers also cannot operate a truck if they have worked more than 60 hours in a given week.   The rule allows motor carriers and drivers to continue to restart calculations …

Ohio Department of Commerce Issues New Prevailing Wage Guidelines

 The Ohio Department of Commerce recently released new prevailing wage guidelines.  These guidelines, which became effective on October 15, 2008 and are available at http://com.ohio.gov/laws/,  focus on construction projects supported by both public and private funds.  Essentially, whenever a public entity contributes funding or other direct support (such as public land) to a project, even an otherwise privately-financed project, prevailing wage must be paid to the workers on that project.  The guidelines also state that, for the most part, projects may not be subdivided into a publicly-supported project and a privately-financed project in order to avoid prevailing wage on certain …

CIS’s Proposed Regulation to Allow for Three-Year TN Status Adopted on October 16

On October 16, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security adopted the May 9, 2008 proposed regulation without change. Therefore, effective October 16, 2008, qualifying individuals now may obtain initial periods of TN status or extensions of status for up to three years. As noted in the prior post announcing the proposed regulation, this new development certainly is good news for TN employers and employees alike.…

Mental Health Parity Provisions of the Bailout Law

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (“EESA” or the “bailout law”), which was enacted on October 3, 2008, contains significant amendments to the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 (“MHPA”) that are pertinent to group health plans. For most plans, these changes will be effective January 1, 2010.

Under the provisions of MHPA prior to this amendment, the annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits could be no lower than the dollar limits for medical and surgical benefits offered by a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering coverage in connection with a group health plan. The original …

BWC Long-Term Premium Plan Impacts Group Rating Program

On June 27, 2008, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors unanimously approved the first phase of a long-term plan that will transition to a new split experience rating method for calculating premium rates that is designed to cushion the premium blow that state-funded employers frequently receive as the result of a single costly workers’ compensation claim. In addition, the plan will:

— Gradually reduce the maximum group rating discount from 85 to 77%beginning July 1, 2009, with a 20% annual cap on premium rate increases caused by these discount reductions;

— Cap premium increases at 100% …

The Supreme Court Upholds the Sixth Circuit in ERISA Conflict of Interest Case

The Supreme Court recently issued a decision in Metlife v. Glenn, U.S., No. 06-923 where it considered: (1) whether a plan administrator has a conflict of interest when it both evaluates a claim for benefits and pays that benefit claim; and (2) how that conflict of interest should be taken into account by a court reviewing a discretionary benefit determination.

To answer the first question, the Court relied on its decision in Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Bruch, 489 U.S. 101 (1989). The Court noted that in Firestone it held that a conflict of interest exists where the administrator …

Ohio’s Minimum Wage Increases In 2008

Ohio employers should be aware that the minimum wage is about to increase yet again. The Ohio Department of Commerce has announced that the state’s minimum wage will increase to $7.00 per hour on January 1, 2008 – a 15 cent increase over the 2007 minimum wage. The minimum wage for tipped employees will rise from $3.43 to $3.50 per hour, so long as employees earn a total of $7.00 per hour once wages and tips are combined. 

These new minimum wages apply to employees over 16 years of age whose employers gross more than $255,000 annually. For employees younger than 16 and …

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