• Posts by Peter E. Hansen
    Senior Counsel

    As a former Human Resources supervisor, Peter understands the challenges his clients face, including being on the receiving end of a lawsuit brought on by a former employee. What he remembers of the experience is the assurance he felt ...

Although labor unions have historically not targeted  banks and credit unions for organizing, desperate times call for desperate measures as union membership continues to fall in the United States with only 6.1% of the private sector workforce belonging to a labor organization. While just over 1% of all financial services employees are unionized, there has been an uptick in unionization hitting the financial industry since 2020; with signs of more aggressive action on the part of labor organizations not slowing down. 

Recent Union Organizing of Financial Institutions

Recent ...

If you’re wondering what to do in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision striking down the OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard mandating COVID-19 vaccination and testing, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, there is no short answer for many employers – it largely depends on your industry, and where you’re located. 

First and foremost, you need to verify that you are not subject to any other COVID-19 vaccination mandates. Employers in the health care industry that fall under the reach of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), for ...

The United States Department of Labor released a long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) for private employers with over 100 employees. The 490 page interim final rule answers a number of questions employers have had since the Biden Administration announced its plan in September, including:

What is the application to employers?

The ETS applies to employers with 100 or more employees as of November 5, 2021, regardless of the number of employees working at a specific location. The ETS does not, however, apply to employers covered by the CMS rule or federal ...

On October 29, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor published its final rule regarding tipped employees with dual jobs (i.e., employees who perform both tipped and non-tipped work), rejecting the Trump-era approach to determining when tipped employees may be paid subminimum wages. The final rule reinstates the dreaded “80/20” rule that employers with tipped employees are likely familiar with, and adds a new “substantial amount of time” component to the determination. If you are an employer covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, listen up!

The 80/20 Rule

Under the ...

Employers with tipped employees, take note: the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its long-awaited final rule on tip regulations, which was officially published on September 24 and becomes effective November 23, 2021. The final rule makes a number of changes that will impact tipped employees and their employers, including:

Civil Money Penalties

The DOL may assess a penalty  up to $1,100 per violation against employers who take tips earned by their employees – regardless of whether the violations are repeated or willful. This means a penalty could be assessed on an ...

Wisconsin employers discounting the possibility of organizing campaigns and unionization in their workplace.

The short answer is, private sector employers can very likely terminate the employee.  If the employee is at-will, they can be fired for any non-discriminatory reason (or no reason at all); and, intentionally using the wrong name or pronoun to refer to a coworker is certainly a non-discriminatory reason.  Even if the employee has “for cause” protection through an employment contract, there’s a pretty good chance that intentionally misgendering their coworker is sufficient cause to terminate, especially if they’ve been previously warned about similar behavior.

The issue ...

Employers who require employees to undergo mandatory security checks, health screenings, or similar pre- or post-shift activities take note:  a growing number of courts have determined time spent waiting to undergo and actually undergoing the check or screening may be compensable under state law. 

The most recent example is the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which concluded that the time Amazon employees spent on their employer’s premises “waiting to undergo, and undergoing, mandatory security screening” was compensable time under state law.  That “state law” ...

Contractors beware – the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has ramped up audits of contractors as labor unions and related organizations flood the IDOL with “complaints. Remember, under the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (IPWA), a prevailing wage “complaint” need not be verified or even submitted to the IDOL under penalty of perjury. The IDOL will investigate each and every “complaint” regardless of merit and, while historically the main focus of the IDOL was to ensure proper and full payment of the actual prevailing wage, it is now seeking to issue violations and debar ...

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are starting to roll out, employees who have been vaccinated are beginning to question whether they are still required to wear face masks, practice social distancing, etc.  In short, yes they are – according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with numerous state agencies, “it is important to wear a face covering and remain physically distant from co-workers and customers even if you have been vaccinated because it is not known at this time how vaccination affects transmissibility.”

So, the same workplace protocols ...

A question that employers often ask when someone in the workplace reports COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test is, who is the employer required to notify? Typically common sense and CDC guidelines have been that employers must engage in contact tracing and notify individuals who were in “close contact” with the person. In recent months and weeks, local and state departments of public health have continued to issue guidance, and mandates, that employers must also identify and observe and sometimes try to interpret despite conflicting statements.

For example, in December 2020 ...

A Wisconsin state court recently issued a helpful reminder to employers operating in Wisconsin – and employers with employees working outside of their home state:  always check local and state conviction records laws before using them in making any employment-related decision.

In Cree, Inc. v. LIRC, the employer rescinded a job offer to Derrick Palmer after discovering that he had multiple convictions for “domestic incidents,” including “2012 convictions for strangulation/suffocation, fourth-degree sexual assault, battery, and criminal damage to property ...

Although Wisconsin has no statewide or industry-specific requirements, Governor Evers’ November 10, 2020 Executive Order “strongly encouraged” all businesses to take a number of precautions in response to the COVID-19 resurgence, including:

  • Hold meetings and collaborate online or by phone, even if staff are physically present at the worksite
  • Alternate work teams or stagger shifts
  • Require staff, customers, and the public to wear masks, and require social distancing of 6 feet between all individuals at the worksite
  • Prevent staff from entering the worksite if they ...

The U.S. Department of Labor announced revised regulations interpreting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in response to a New York federal court decision declaring some FFCRA regulations invalid.  The revised regulations become effective September 16, 2020, and include several changes and clarifications that employers should be aware of:

The Health Care Provider Exception.  The DOL limited the “health care provider” exception (which excluded certain employees from FFCRA eligibility) to employees who are “capable of providing health care ...

Chicago employers take note – beginning July 1, 2020, you may be required to post work schedules at least 10 days in advance in order to comply with the Fair Workweek Ordinance. This seems like as good a time as any for a refresher on the Ordinance.

Are We Subject to the Ordinance?

Generally, employers must comply with the Ordinance if they meet each of the below conditions:

  • They employ 100+ employees (both inside and outside of Chicago) or, for non-profit corporations, 250+ employees;
  • They employ 50+ employees who spend the majority of their time at work in Chicago and earn $50,000 or ...

The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Emergency Order 28, the Safer at Home Order, for failing to follow emergency rulemaking procedures in a lengthy 161-page opinion – effective immediately.  So, what does this mean for Wisconsin employers?

Local Orders Still Apply

Local officials may enact their own stay-at-home orders – and indeed, some already have.  Dane and Kenosha counties each issued orders adopting the majority of Emergency Order 28’s provisions, effective immediately and continuing to May 26, 2020.  Brown County issued a similar order in effect ...

Recent changes to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) require all Illinois employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees by December 31, 2020, and once per year thereafter – and tasked the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) with creating a model sexual harassment training program employers could use to meet that requirement. After several delays, the IDHR released its model sexual harassment prevention training program along with an FAQ. Now that we have the IDHR’s model training, all Illinois employers should begin planning ...

The question many employers have faced in recent weeks is whether or not COVID-19 could be covered by workers compensation. The answer is generally… “UNLIKELY — except those who are directly involved in dealing with the pandemic — i.e. healthcare workers.” Under workers compensation law 101, an injured or ill employee bears the burden of establishing a causal connection between the conditions under which the work is performed and the injury/illness at issue. This has been the case even for employees contracting infectious diseases such as Hepatitis-B or ...

As we now know, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires covered employers to provide employees with paid sick leave — under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) — for specified reasons related to COVID-19 starting April 1. These reasons include: because the employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.

Many states and local governments have now mandated shelter-in-place (SIP) or stay-at-home orders.

The question facing many employers is whether these SIP orders trigger the paid leave ...

As many of you know, employers with 500 or more employees are exempt from the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave provisions of the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Now that the Department of Labor (DOL) released FAQs regarding the FFCRA, we know a bit more about how the DOL will count employees for the purpose of meeting the 500 employee threshold – including that it will apply the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) joint-employer analysis and the Family and Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA) integrated employer test in making ...

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

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