Employment Law -- Employer Archives

When workers are misclassified

As a Pennsylvania small business owner, it may be your responsibility to classify your employees correctly with regard to whether they are actual employees or independent contractors. Classifying your employees appropriately from the outset is critical, because there are some very important distinctions between the two types of workers, and inaccurately claiming that an employee is an independent contractor can land you in some serious hot water.

Expansion of the Joint Employer-NLRB Browning-Ferris Decision

At the end of August, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) handed down a decision, departing dramatically from past precedent, ruling that companies may be held liable for labor violations conducted by their contractors and subject to joint collective bargaining agreements. This decision held that waste management company, Browning-Ferris Industries, who hired LeadPoint Staffing, to supply employees to a one of its recycling centers, is a joint employer and required to participate in collective bargaining along with LeadPoint.

The New Overtime: Proposed Rules from the Department of Labor

On July 6, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a new set of requirements for workers who may receive overtime wages. The proposed rule expands the class of overtime eligible employees. The DOL's proposed rules are in direct response to President Obama's executive request to review and revise the current overtime regulations, which currently prevent certain classes of salaried workers from receiving overtime compensation. Specifically, Obama asked the DOL to reevaluate the salary threshold at which employers are no longer obligated to pay employees overtime.

King v. Burwell: Affirming the Affordable Care Act

The controversial Affordable Care has caused debate and litigation since it was signed by the President in 2010. The Affordable Care Act embodies three reforms to overhaul the American healthcare system. First, the Act required guaranteed issue and community rating which requires health insurance providers to offer health insurance to offer health insurance policies to everyone within a given territory, without medical underwriting. Second, the Act issued a national mandate requiring individuals to maintain health insurance coverage, or pay a fine to the IRS. Lastly, the Act seeks to make healthcare more affordable through giving refundable tax credits to individuals with household incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line. The Act also requires the creation of an "Exchange" in each state which functions as a marketplace which allows individuals to shop for different insurance plans. The Act states that the federal government will establish an exchange if a state does not. The Act supplies that tax credits shall be allowed for any applicable tax payer, but only if the taxpayer has enrolled in an insurance plan through an exchange established by a state. An IRS regulation interprets that the language as making tax credits available on an exchange regardless of whether the exchange is established by a state or HHS. The ambiguities within the Act's language and the IRS's regulation caused confusion.

Paid Sick Leave: New Duties for Employers

In a current wave of legislation, states and cities across the country are passing laws and ordinances granting workers paid sick leave. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California and Washington have passed state wide laws permitting leave. Cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and nine New Jersey municipalities have enacted paid sick leave laws. Even many private companies, such as Chipotle have begun to enact paid sick leave policies for all types of workers. While some view these laws as a large step forward for American employees, others feel as though government is overstepping its bounds by dictating how employers treat employees. In response to many city ordinances granting this leave, some states have adopted preemption laws which prohibit localities from passing such laws.

Wellness Incentives and Employer Provided Healthcare Plans

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers who provide health benefits may use financial penalties and incentives to encourage staff to participate in wellness programs which seek to evaluate and encourage workers' healthy behaviors and other lifestyle choices. Programs which incentive workers to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthy and partake in yearly health screenings, have become increasingly popular with the passage of the ACA in order for businesses to bring down healthcare costs for preventable conditions.

Starting or running a business? Do not ignore these legal issues.

Startups and businesses are great opportunities for entrepreneurs to achieve their vision. In the pursuit of finding and retaining talented employees, many of these businesses overlook several "hidden" legal issues which can be detrimental to long profitability and viability.

Franchises as Joint Employers-The Battle Continues

While recent National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) decisions have begun to impose liability on franchises as joint employers, there has been a backlash from Congress and the Courts against this legally unprecedented action. In January, a California judge held that the franchise, Massage Envy, could not be held liable for an individual franchisee's wage and hour violations. This holding follows a recent August 2014 California Supreme Court decision that Domino's could not be held liable as a joint employer in a former employee's sexual harassment suit. These cases are directly opposed to the NLRB's recent decision to hold both McDonald's and the franchisees accountable as joint employers in labor complaints against the chain.

Employee or Contractor? The Taxing Distinction

As tax season is well underway, employers are asked to define who is on their payroll. Employees or contractors? This is a seemingly simple distinction, but an employer may not have the same classification as the IRS or their respective state's department of treasury. This label defines the obligations of both the employer and the worker to the IRS.

Franchises and Joint Employers

The nationally recognized companies McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, 7-Eleven, Hampton Inn and Subway have built success by franchising their business locations. Individuals and businesses buy the rights and pay royalties to open up a franchise, and in turn share in the benefits of established brand recognition and proven business model. Traditionally, when a franchise location encountered legal trouble, only the licensee of that franchise could be held liable. However, a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision issued in December 2014 has demonstrated the potential to change where the liability lies between a corporation and its franchisees.