2016 Hot Topics in HR Compliance

Each January, Tim Davis, partner at the law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP, speaks to the local Topeka SHRM Chapter regarding recent and upcoming legal updates and how each affects the area of human resources. These legal updates include all aspects of the employer/employee relationship including compliance with the NLRA, FMLA, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, and FLSA, just to name a few.

During Mr. Davis’ January 2016 presentation, he addressed some of the most important HR legal issues of 2016. These key HR legal issues, which affect our clients as well, include:

· Employee Handbooks – If your employee handbook has not been reviewed in the last year or two, have it examined as soon as possible. Certain policies which were acceptable 1-2 years ago, are no longer considered lawful due to recent decisions by the NLRB. Specifically, any policy which prohibits or restricts an employee’s rights under Section 7 of the NLRA, including the right to engage in protected concerted activity, is considered unlawful in both union and non-union workplaces.

· FLSA Exemptions – With recent discussions regarding the increase in the exempt salary level test, it is critical for employers to begin forecasting costs and evaluating positions in order to determine the effect this change will have on their organizations. Most importantly, it is critical to have a plan in place on how to communicate the change and why the change has occurred to employees.

· ADA Accommodations – In just 15 years, the number of ADA charges has increased from 15,000 in 2000 to 25,000 in 2015. It is important for employers to understand how to accommodate a disability under the ADA, including the need for intermittent leave. Pregnancy is also protected and therefore employers must be aware of how to accommodate pregnant women just as they would accommodate an individual with a disability. Religious accommodations are also required and employers should be aware of what is considered a reasonable accommodation for religious purposes.

· EEOC – EEOC’s position is that sexual orientation is protected under Title VII because it is based on an allegation of sex discrimination, which is protected under Title VII. EEOC also considers transgender status to be gender discrimination under Title VII. Therefore, employers are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, nor are they permitted to discriminate against transgender individuals. Employers should take proactive measures to ensure guidelines are enforced to protect these employees in the workplace.

· DOL/FLSA – Another significant HR legal issue facing employees is the proper classification of employees vs. independent contractors. Determining the proper classification is ambiguous, at best, and requires a very thorough analysis of the position/job description. But rest assured, both the U.S. DOL and the Kansas DOL have this issue in their sights for 2016.

There are a number of best practices for employers and human resources professionals to consider when working to prevent discrimination including, but not limited to, training all employees on EEO laws, promoting and fostering a work environment of professionalism and respect, and avoiding subjective employment decisions. Organizations have the obligation to monitor EEO compliance and analyze positions to determine appropriate qualification standards.

Creative Business Solutions specializes in working with our clients to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including reviewing employee handbooks. In addition, CBS is experienced in evaluating and determining the appropriate FLSA status of various positions, as well as the appropriate means to accommodate employees.

Please call us today so we may ensure your organization is up to date with the above regulations. Of course, CBS will be pleased to assist your organization with any HR compliance issue you may - or could be - experiencing.

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