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State Minimum Wages Going Up in 2015

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 11/12/2014
money in pocket

The current federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is $7.25 per hour ($2.13 for tipped employees). Some states, however, have established their own minimum wage, and employees in these states are entitled to whichever minimum wage is higher. Given the existence of multiple minimum wage rates, employers, particularly those operating in more than one state, must know which minimum wage rate (or rates) may apply to their operations.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:

  • 38 states introduced minimum wage bills and 34 states considered minimum wage increases during the 2014 legislative session.
  • 23 states and D.C. have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage as of August 1, 2014.
  • 18 states have minimum wages that are the same as the federal minimum wage.
  • 3 states have minimum wages below the federal minimum wage, so the federal minimum wage applies.
  • 5 states do not have a state minimum wage.
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Categories: 2014, Human Resources

OSHA Issues New Reporting and Recordkeeping Rules

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 10/1/2014
doctor holding medical records

Employers will soon have new rules to follow after experiencing workplace injuries and illnesses. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published regulations regarding the reporting and recordkeeping requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s (“Act”). These new rules, which become effective on January 1, 2015, modify an employer’s obligation to report workplace injuries and illnesses to OSHA and to routinely keep records of injuries and illnesses.

Reporting Requirements

Though a majority of workplace injuries and illnesses do not have to be reported to OSHA, some do. Like the current rules, the new rules require employers to notify OSHA within 8 hours of an employee’s work-related death. Under the new rules, employers are no longer required to notify OSHA of any work-related hospitalization of 3 or more employees. However, under the new rules, employers will be required to notify OSHA within 24 hours of any work-related incident that results in:

  • the in-patient hospitalization of one or more employees (the formal admission to a hospital or clinic for care or treatment, rather than merely observation or diagnostic testing);
  • an employee’s amputation (the traumatic loss of a limb or other external body part); or
  • the loss of an employee’s eye.
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When Does Disability Leave Become an Unreasonable Accommodation?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 7/9/2014
court room

When has an employer done enough to avoid liability for disability discrimination? Though hard and fast rules are rare in employment discrimination cases, particularly those involving disabilities, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that employers are almost never required to provide more than 6 months leave to an employee with a disability.

The quality versus cost argument is nothing new especially when it comes to insurance. Consumers who pay less tend to get less, whether in the form of coverages, limits or financial security. And, when people choose cost over quality, it usually means they are uninformed about what they really need.

In Hwang v. Kansas State University, an assistant professor working under a one year employment contract was diagnosed with cancer. KSU gave Ms. Hwang a six-month paid leave of absence so she could get treatment. On the advice of her doctor, Ms. Hwang requested additional time off. According to Ms. Hwang, KSU refused her request and effectively terminated her employment.

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Warning: Whistleblowers Must be Handled with Care

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 6/4/2014
judge's gavel

Though dealing with a disgruntled employee can be hard, various anti-retaliation protections make it even harder when an employee’s complaints or conduct is protected by law. A 2013 Congressional Report identified 40 different federal whistleblower and anti-retaliation laws, including:

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Is There a Bully in Your Workplace?

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 4/23/2014
workplace bully

Chances are there is a bully in your workplace, and that’s bad for business. The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) defines bullying as repeated mistreatment involving physically or verbally abusive conduct that is threatening, intimidating or humiliating, or that interferes with or prevents work from getting done. According to the WBI’s 2014 Workplace Bullying Survey:

  • 27% are or have been victims of workplace bullying
  • 21% have witnessed workplace bullying
  • 23% are aware of workplace bullying
  • 65 million workers are affected by workplace bullying

Though the frequency of workplace bullying may come as a surprise to some, the consequences should not. Workplace bullying typically increases employee turnover, decreases productivity, reduces job satisfaction, undermines morale, increases workers’ compensation costs and increases employment-related litigation costs.

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Religious Garb and Grooming Accommodations under Title VII

by Martin Salcedo, Esq. - The Human Equation on 3/12/2014
woman putting on sari

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charges of religious discrimination brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act are steadily increasing. These charges often involve religious dress and grooming practices, such as:

  • wearing religious clothing or articles, such as a Muslim hijab (headscarf), a Sikh turban or a Christian cross
  • observing a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments, such as a Muslim, Pentecostal Christian, or Orthodox Jewish woman's practice of not wearing pants or short skirts
  • adhering to shaving or hair length observances, such as a uncut hair and beard (Sikh), dreadlocks (Rastafarian) or peyes/side locks (Jewish)

    Title VII, which protects all aspects of religious observance, practice and belief, defines religion very broadly. It protects not only traditional, organized religions, but also religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, only subscribed to by a small number of people, or may seem illogical or unreasonable to others.

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Grading the EEOC in 2013

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 1/29/2014
employee and employer

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is on a mission. According to its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 through 2016, the EEOC is focused on:

  • combating employment discrimination with administrative (investigation, mediation, conciliation) and litigation enforcement mechanisms
  • preventing employment discrimination with education and outreach activities
  • delivering excellent and consistent services with effective systems.

The EEOC’s enforcement objectives and activities provide valuable insight into what employers should pay special attention to when dealing with equal employment opportunity matters. According to its Fiscal Year 2013 Performance and Accountability Report, the EEOC:

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The Human Equation's newsletters and publications are intended as an information source for the clients and friends of the firm. Their content should not be construed as legal advice, and readers should not act upon the information in these publications without professional guidance. Please note that newsletters and publications that are archived by The Human Equation are not updated after initial publication and may not contain the most current information available.

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