Can Public Sector Employees Be Forced to Pay Union Dues?

The United State Supreme Court heard oral arguments on February 26, 2018 in a case that could dramatically change the face of unions and public employment in this country.  Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (AFSCME) puts at issue whether public sector employees can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.  Proponents of mandatory union dues payments state that this prevents some employees from reaping the benefits of collective bargaining and union representation without paying their fair share.  Opponents feel that it is inherently unfair to require an employee to pay union dues if they do not agree with union representation or what the union stands for.  An article published today, Justices Appear Slit on Mandatory Union Fees, by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) does a nice job covering the recent case law regarding mandatory union dues and an analysis of how the U.S. Supreme Court might rule on this case.  For those AAA members who are governmental entities, the outcome of this case could have a substantial impact on your agency and its people, employees and management.  We will continue to monitor the developments in this case...

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EMS Employer Year-End Wrap-Up and Preview

2017 was a bit of a wild ride in the employment realm.  The Trump Administration worked to change the trajectory set during the eight years of the Obama Administration.  This past year, we saw the undoing or attempts to undo many of the Obama Administration initiatives, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) updates, changes to the Persuader Rule, interpretations of Title VII as it relates to transgender protections.  Not to mention the repeated attempts to chip away at the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In addition, there were several new requirements for employers that went into effect in 2017 and a few upcoming in 2018.  Here is a quick review to ensure that your service is up-to-date and compliant. The Fair Labor Standards Act Changes These changes, which would have more than doubled the minimum salary levels for those “White Collar” exemptions, were set to go into effect back in 2016.  A Federal Court in Texas enjoined and put on hold these changes until the question of whether the Department of Labor (DOL) had the authority to unilaterally change the Regulations.  In July, 2016, the DOL published an Request For Information (RFI) with responses due in late September, requesting input...

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SHRM: 65% of EEOC Cases Resolved Without Cause

If you ask most healthcare attorneys the best way for healthcare providers to avoid being sued is to listen to their patient, communicate clearly, and most importantly, be nice. The same can be said for employment related legal actions.  In a great article released by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), suggests that over 65% of the cases filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) were found to be resolved without “reasonable cause”. Just like with the provision of healthcare, employers can often avoid time consuming and costly employment litigation by making sure that the leadership and management team communicates clearly to employees about performance expectations, listens to employee concerns or feedback, and possibly most importantly, treats their employees nicely regardless of the message they are delivering. The employment relationship is just like any other human relationship. Those where there is mutual respect and appreciation yield the richest experience.

OSHA Faces Further Delays in Electronic Reporting Rules

This past May, the AAA published an Advisory to members alerting them of the new OSHA electronic injury reporting requirements for employers that were set to start this past August.  According to OSHA’s announcement, the rule was intended to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses”.  The new rules provided that certain employers would have to electronically submit their 300 or 300A employer injury data to OSHA.  OSHA stated that it would post the data on it’s website as a mechanism to “nudge” employers to provide the safest workplaces that they can. These new rules also included anti-retaliation provisions required that employers have reasonable procedures for employees to report injuries.  They also provided that employers could not have any practices or procedures that would discourage employees from reporting injuries.  The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) announced last June that they would be delaying the implementation of the anti-retaliation requirements until November 1, 2016 because they wanted to have more time to “perform education and outreach.”  Those provisions were further delayed but went into effect this past December. With the July deadline looming for electronic submission, there was little indication that OSHA had developed the electronic submission portal for employers...

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Overtime for PTO Bill Passes the House

Yesterday a bill that would possible amend the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act passed the House. H.R. 1180, titled the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 was introduced by Alabama Representative Martha Roby this past February. The proposed change would permit private employers who currently pay employees overtime for hours worked over 40 during a given week to substitute that overtime pay for compensatory paid time off in the amount of 1.5 hours for each hour of overtime worked. In order to do so, the employee would have to agree in writing with the substitution of PTO for overtime pay prior to working the overtime hours. The agreement must provide that the employee knowingly and voluntarily agrees to the substitution of PTO for overtime pay. In the case of unionized companies, the substitution can only be made if provided under the collective bargaining agreement. To be eligible to substitute PTO for overtime pay, the employee must have worked for the employer for at least 1000 hours during the preceding uninterrupted 12 month period before the agreement is made or the receipt of the compensatory PTO. The Bill provides for limitations to the number of hours that can...

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New I-9 Form Required

New Form I9 Effective January 22, 2017 All employers are required to begin using the new Form I9 starting on January 22, 2017. The new form can be found on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. To ensure that you are utilizing the correct form, an expiration date of August 31, 2019 is in the top right hand corner of the form. Last year we were aware of several ambulance providers who were the subject of Form I9 audits by the USCIS which resulted in technical violations for failing to complete the form correctly. The Form I9 is the document all U.S. employers are required to have completed when hiring a new employee to assure that they are legally eligible to work in the United States. While there has been a reduction in Form I9 Audits from USCIS in 2015, employers should be prepared as the five year trend is on the rise and I am aware of several ambulance providers currently dealing with audits. The Law The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 requires employers to examine documentation from each newly hired employee to prove his or her identity and eligibility to work in the...

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HR Wrap-Up: A Look Back at 2016

As we wind up 2016 I thought it would be a good idea to review the year’s human resource and legal developments to ensure that our members are compliant and prepared for what faces them in 2017.  We knew that this was going to be an interesting year as we experienced the most unusual Presidential Election in our history.  It overshadowed everything else that occurred in 2016.  As the Obama administration comes to its final days, employers and ambulance providers saw some of the most sweeping regulatory changes. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) The biggest change facing employers in 2016 was the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime changes.  The Department of Labor (DOL) issued updated regulations which were to become effective December 1, 2016, raising the minimum salary thresholds for the so called “white collar” exemptions.  Under the new regulations, the minimum salary would increase from $455 to $970 per week.  For those employees earning under the new amount, employers would need to decide if they are going to raise the salary level or pay the employee overtime for hours worked over 40 in one week.  The changes have not gone into effect yet as a 5th Circuit Judge...

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Federal Judge Hold Implementation of New Overtime Regulations

Just a few days before the new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Regulations were set to become effective, a 5th Circuit Federal Judge issued a ruling placing an injunction on the implementation of those Regulations which were estimated to effect nearly 4.2 million American workers.  The new Regulations nearly doubled the minimum salary level for those who would be exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA and provide for adjustments every three years.  21 States filed an emergency motion for an injunction in October stating the Department of Labor had exceeded its authority with these new provisions. For now, employers can hold any adjustments that they were going make relative these new Regulations on December 1 while the question of their legality is resolved.  To get more details on the specifics and to catch up on the Member Advisories relative to these new Regulations, log into the AAA website....

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