Workplace Issues: Latest Need-to-Know Employment Law News

 What’s news? Cost of living adjustments, arbitration, modified workweeks, healthcare deadlines, social media policies, IP and employment issues, EEOC guidance on gender-based violence, wellness programs … for your HR reference, here’s a roundup of recent guidance and analysis by the nation’s leading employment lawyers and law firms. As posted on JD Supra:

- Ninth Circuit Ruling Sheds Light on Neglected Intersection of Copyright and Employment Law (Wilson Sonsini):

“[B]efore becoming an employee, a software developer had created software on his own. After becoming an employee, the developer modified the pre-existing software code to benefit the employer, left the company at a later date for a competitor, and created similar software for the new employer. Litigation arose, as the parties disputed who owned the software. Because the software was a mixture of pre-existing code and code written for the plaintiff-employer, the answer was not clear…” Read on>>

- What Employers Need to Know for 2012 and 2013 Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (McDermott):

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires employers that sponsor group health plans to take a number of legal compliance steps related to their group health plans.  With the end of 2012 quickly approaching, and for 2013 planning purposes, below is a high-level list of the important changes you should be aware of under the PPACA and the effective date of those required change…” Read on>>

- NLRB Decides that Employer Has Duty to Respond to Union’s Information Request—Even if Requested Information is Irrelevant (Franczek Radelet):

“Under the NLRA, a unionized employer must provide, on request, information that is relevant and necessary to the union’s role as the employees’ exclusive bargaining representative. The NLRB has required that employers respond promptly to such requests—either by providing the requested information, or by providing the union with its reasons for not doing so. In IronTiger Logistics, the employer did neither: it never furnished the requested information to the union, and waited four and a half months to notify the union that it did not believe the data was relevant” Read on>>

- EEOC Publishes Fact Sheet Describing the Application of Anti-Discrimination Laws to Victims of Gender-Based Violence (Mintz Levin):

“On October 12, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a new fact sheet titled: Application of Title VII and the ADA to Applicants or Employees Who Experience Domestic or Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking.  Employers may need to review and revise their anti-harassment, -discrimination, and -retaliation policies in light of this publication, which seems to extend gender and disability protections beyond traditional coverage…” Read on>>

- An Employer May Permanently Modify Employee “Workweeks” To Reduce Labor Costs (Foley & Lardner):

“Can an employer legally change employee “workweeks” to mitigate overtime liability? The answer is “yes,” provided any modification of the “workweek” is permanently implemented in accordance with the FLSA implementing regulations…” Read on>>

- Providing WARN Act Notification To Employees As Sequestration Approaches (Bean, KInney & Korman PC):

“Earlier this summer, in preparation for severe budget cuts and potential loss of significant business, several large Federal contractors indicated their need to issue WARN notices in order to comply with Federal law.  On July 30, to quell anxiety that would be caused by such notices, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a guidance letter stating WARN Act notification is unnecessary because sequestration is an ‘unforeseen business circumstance’…” Read on>>

- 2013 COLAs for Employee Benefit Plans (Varnum LLP):

“The Internal Revenue Service has announced the 2013 cost of living adjustments to various limits on employee benefit plans.  The adjusted amounts generally apply for plan years beginning in 2013. Some of the adjusted amounts, however, apply to calendar year 2013…” Read on>>

- Looking Out For Your Employees’ Health – Wellness Programs (Akerman Senterfitt):

“To be clear, the Seff decision does not mean that every employer with a wellness program in place can impose penalties through paycheck deductions for employees who decline to participate in the program.  Employers that have wellness programs in place must determine whether such programs are a part of the employer’s group health insurance plan…” Read on>>

- California Court of Appeal: Employer Cannot Compel Arbitration Unless There Is A Signed Arbitration Agreement (Orrick Global Employment Law Group):

“Hot on the heels of the Sparks decision, the Second District took it one step further on October 16, 2012, holding that an unsigned arbitration agreement is not enforceable even where the employee was aware of the agreement, that she was required to sign the arbitration agreement as a condition of continued employment, was an officer in charge of implementing the arbitration agreement company-wide, and actively misled the employer into believing she had actually signed the arbitration agreement…” Read on>>

- Say What? NLRB Provides Guidance For Social Media Policies (Pillsbury):

“In a series of important rulings, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has provided guidance regarding the extent to which private employers may regulate aspects of an employee’s social media activities consistent with the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The NLRA protects employees’ rights to engage in “concerted activity” for the purpose of collective bargaining, or for other mutual aid or protection, and prohibits employers from interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees who are exercising rights guaranteed under the NLRA…” Read on>>

- Alternative Dispute Resolution: Best Practices for Advocates in Employment Mediation (Bernstein Shur):

“The intense emotions inherent in employment cases serve to make such disputes well-suited for mediation. In addition, the potential for attorney fees shifting to the employer if the employee prevails in discrimination and whistleblower cases makes mediation worthwhile for both sides. All of this requires that the advocates be exceptionally well-prepared. This article identifies the best practices for advocates to ensure that the mediation is productive and reaches a mutually satisfactory result…” Read on>>

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