Posts from March 2014.

On March 25, 2014, the Supreme Court in United States v. Quality Stores, U.S., No. 12-1408, 2014 WL 11168968, 3/25/14) overturned the Sixth Circuit and unanimously held severance payments made to terminated workers were subject to payroll taxes including the Federal Insurance Contributions because the payments constituted “wages” and were in connection to services employees provided to the employer.

The defendant, Quality Stores, had made severance payments to employees who were voluntarily terminated prior to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Quality Stores paid and ...

On March 6, the EEOC issued guidance on Title VII’s application to the issue of religious garb and grooming in the workplace. The guidance does not create any new obligations for employers. Rather, it illustrates the complex nature of accommodating religious beliefs and practices, and provides insight into how the EEOC views employers’ legal responsibilities with respect to religious garb and grooming under Title VII. It also indicates this will be an area of increased EEOC enforcement in coming years.

Title VII protects all aspects of religious observance, practice, and ...

Flexible work weeks have traditionally been viewed as a perk that large employers were able to give their employees because of their size and depth. This was a privilege that was generally earned on a case by case basis after an examination of the position and the employee. This is not necessarily the case anymore in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors amended its city’s Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO) on January 7, 2014 to clarify that the ordinance applies to all employers with at least 20 employees, regardless of the employees’ location. The ...

Earlier today, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing his Secretary of Labor to update the regulations to expand the number of employees eligible for overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The president was expected to take more specific action based on statements made by White House personnel earlier this week, but he left virtually all of the details to the United States Department of Labor.

The president set the stage for the Department of Labor to narrow the exceptions to the FLSA by discussing the failure of the executive or ...

On March 10, 2014, the Treasury Department and the IRS published the final rules on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) information-reporting provisions for employers and insurers set to take effect in 2015. The final regulations on Sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code are being touted by the agencies as simplifying the original reporting requirements, which had been criticized by many employer groups as unnecessarily onerous.

Some progress has been made toward simplification – moving to a single combined form capturing data required by both Sections 6055 ...

On March 3, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review Busk v. Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., in which the Ninth Circuit held that time spent in (and waiting for) post-shift security screenings is compensable under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The employees in Busk, who worked in a warehouse filling Amazon.com orders, were screened only at the end of their workdays for the purpose of preventing the theft of Amazon merchandise.  Accounting for time spent waiting to be screened, the screening process took approximately 25 minutes for ...

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the whistleblower protections of the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX) reach beyond publicly traded companies.  In a split decision, the Court held that employees of privately held companies that contract or subcontract with a publicly traded company covered by SOX are also protected by SOX’s whistleblower provision.

The case involved two employees of a private company that contracted to advise and manage mutual funds for a publicly traded company subject to SOX.  Both employees alleged they blew the whistle on putative fraud relating to the mutual ...

The number of DOL benefit plan audits held steady in 2013 with the Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) recently announcing that 3,677 civil investigations were closed in 2013, resulting in $1.7B in corrections, restored plan assets and fines. With that in mind, it’s a good time for plan sponsors and administrators to turn their attention to some basic housekeeping.

If the thought of a DOL plan audit makes you nervous, there’s good reason! DOL investigations find a failure in over 70 percent of plan audits. Failures typically result from defects in plan ...

Welcome to the Labor and Employment Law Update where attorneys from SmithAmundsen blog about management side labor and employment issues. 

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