Employment Law Legislative Update First Quarter 2015

Lamar-Sarah-OPTHunterMaclean partner Sarah Lamar discusses recent changes in employment law in her first quarterly legislative update of 2015 for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM):

Legislation:  Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act (S 153)
Introduced: 1/13/15
Status: Referred to Judiciary Committee
Purpose: To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to increase an annual cap on H-1B nonimmigrant visas (specialty occupations) to between 115,000 and 195,000 visas depending upon market conditions and existing demand.
Comment: This bill was introduced by a bi-partisan group of senators. The current annual H-1B cap is 65,000 which most practitioners agree is too low.
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Legislation: Healthy Families Act (S 497)
Introduced: 2/12/15
Status: Referred to Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Purpose: To require employers with 15 or more employees to provide 7 days of paid sick leave annually for use for an employee’s  own illness or that of the employee’s family.  Employers with less than 15 employees would be required to provide 7 days of unpaid sick leave.
Comment: This bill has been introduced in one form or another multiple times.  In light of the current make up of Congress, it is not likely to pass either chamber.
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Regulatory Requirements: Update on FLSA Exemptions Overhaul
Issued: 1/29/15
Effective Date: N/A
Purpose: In late January, 26 Democratic senators wrote an open letter to President Obama requesting that he increase the minimum salary requirement under the FLSA’s white collar exemptions to $1090 per week or $56,680 per year.  Currently, the salary threshold is set at $455 per week or $23,660 per year, less than half of the proposed amount.
Comment: Last year, President Obama indicated an intent to overhaul the white collar exemptions and directed the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to undertake such an effort.  The DOL’s proposed regulations have been expected since the November 2014 elections.
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Regulatory Requirements: NLRB’s Quickie Election Rule Is Challenged
Issued: 12/12/14
Effective Date: 4/14/15
Purpose: As previously reported, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reissued its so-called “quickie election” rules in December 2014.  Since then, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other employer groups, including SHRM, have filed suit seeking to halt the implementation of the rules. They have argued, among other things, that the rules curtail employers’ free speech rights, conflict with the Board’s statutory obligations and violate privacy rights of employees.
Comment: Another lawsuit was filed in Texas by a construction industry trade group challenging the new election rules.  Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has filed a resolution attempting to block the NLRB’s new rules under the Congressional Review Act, but this effort will likely not get past a presidential veto.
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