CLOSE X
RSS Feed LinkedIn Instagram Twitter Facebook
Search:
FMG Law Blog Line

Archive for July, 2017

Revised Form I-9 Now Available

Posted on: July 18th, 2017

By: Layli Eskandari Deal

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a revised Form I-9 which is now available (https://www.uscis.gov/i-9). Employers may use the old version of the form (dated 11/14/2016) or the new version (dated 07/17/2017) until September 17, 2017. Thereafter, employers must use the new version of the form for all new hires and reverifications. Storage and retention rules for the I-9s remain the same (https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/retain-and-store-form-i-9). Notable changes to the form are:

  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) has been added to List C as an acceptable document.
  • All certification of report of birth issued by the U.S. Department of State (Forms FS-545, DS-1350, FS-240) has been added to List C #2
  • USCIS has renumbered all the options on List C except for the Social Security Card.

All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each person they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Layli Eskandari Deal of the law firm of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

Is There Paid Family Leave in the Future?

Posted on: July 18th, 2017

By: David Cole

President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal included a request for a paid leave program. The program would provide six weeks of mandatory paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child for mothers and fathers whose employer doesn’t provide the benefit. The estimated cost could reach $25 billion over 10 years, which states would finance through their unemployment insurance programs along with funding from the federal government achieved through budget cuts in other areas.

So far, Republicans have not warmed to the idea, arguing that it amounts to an entitlement program. But recently, Ivanka Trump wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal in which she responded to the criticism and supported the proposal. “Providing a national guaranteed paid-leave program — with a reasonable time limit and benefit cap — isn’t an entitlement, it’s an investment in America’s working families,” she wrote. She also argued that the availability of paid leave is needed to “encourage both parents to share parenting responsibility and to strive toward minimizing hiring biases.”

Yet while Republicans think the proposal goes too far, Democrats don’t think it goes far enough. Over 100 Democrats have now written a letter to President Trump expressing concerns over the proposal.  They are pushing for other Democrat-sponsored bills that would provide for 12 weeks’ paid leave, matching the entitlement provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act. They also argue that paid leave should not be limited to the birth or adoption of a child, but should also include leave needed to care for one’s self or a sick family member.

Only time will tell where this ends up. In the meantime, employers should remember that California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey already have laws that require paid family leave for employees who need to care for sick or disabled family members or a new child. New York will join them with a new law that goes into effect January 1, 2018. If all of this sounds like a lot, here is a handy reference chart of state family leave laws. Also, our Labor & Employment attorneys are always here to help if you have questions or need guidance.

For any questions, please contact David Cole at [email protected].

UPDATE ON H-2B VISA AVAILABILITY

Posted on: July 17th, 2017

By: Kenneth S. Levine

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security announced on June 17th an expansion of the H-2B visa quota. DHS Secretary Kelly, pursuant to his departmental authority, designated an additional 15,000 H-2B visas on top of the current 66,000 annual quota. 

It was made clear in the announcement that the 15,000 additional H-2B visas will apply solely to the current fiscal year.  FMG Immigration Attorneys expect that this new availability of H-2B visas will not last long.  As such, any businesses interested in pursuing an H-2B visa should decide promptly whether or not to proceed with the sponsorship process. 

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected]

Governor Deal Signs House Bill 146 Firefighter Cancer Insurance Coverage

Posted on: July 14th, 2017

By: Pamela F. Everett

On May 4, 2017, Governor Deal signed House Bill 146 to amend Georgia Code Section 25-3-23 to provide cancer insurance coverage to fire fighters. This Bill, which becomes effective January 1, 2018, requires that all Georgia cities, counties and private companies with legally organized fire departments purchase and maintain cancer insurance coverage for firefighters.

In 2010, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a multi-year study of nearly 30,000 fire fighters from the Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco Fire Departments to determine if there was a potential link between fire fighting and cancer. The study was a joint effort by researchers at NIOSH, the National Cancer Institute and the University of California at Davis Department of Public Health Sciences. The fire fighters in the Study showed higher rates of certain types of cancer such as digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary cancers, than the general U.S. population.

As many of you will recall, there was an effort by the Georgia House and Senate during the 2015-2016 Session to adopt House Bill 216 which would have amended Georgia’s Occupational Disease Statute to add a new Code section 34-9-293. This amendment was an attempt to compensate firefighters through the Workers’ Compensation Act for cancer which manifested during the period in which the firefighter was in the service of the city or county. This Bill was vetoed by Governor Deal.

HB 146 provides insurance coverage to pay for claims for cancer diagnosed after having served 12 consecutive months as a firefighter with a city, county or private fire department. The types of cancer covered are blood, brain, breast, cervical, esophageal, intestinal, kidney, lymphatic, lung, prostate, rectal, respiratory tract, skin, testicular, thyroid, leukemia, multiple myeloma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The statute, as amended, provides that insurance benefits shall include, at a minimum, the following:

– A lump sum benefit of $25,000.00 subject to limitations specified in the insurance contract and based on severity of cancer and payable to the firefighter upon submission to the insurance carrier or other payor of acceptable proof of diagnosis by a physician board certified in the medical specialty appropriate for the type of cancer involved that there are one or more malignant tumors characterized by the uncontrollable and abnormal growth and spread of malignant cells with invasion of normal tissue and that:

  • Surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy is medically necessary;
  • There is metastasis; or
  • The firefighter has terminal cancer, is expected to die within 24 months or less from the date of diagnosis, and will not benefit from, or has exhausted, curative therapy.

– A lump sum benefit of $6,250.00 subject to limitations specified in the insurance contract and based on severity of cancer and payable to the firefighter upon submission to the insurance carrier or other payor of acceptable proof of diagnosis by a physician board certified in the medical specialty appropriate for the type of cancer involved that:

  • There is carcinoma in situ such that surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy has been determined to be medically necessary;
  • There are malignant tumors which are treated by endoscopic procedures alone;
  • There are malignant melanomas; or
  • There is a tumor of the prostate, provided that it is treated with radical prostatectomy or external beam therapy.

– A monthly benefit equal to 60 percent of the member’s monthly salary as an employed firefighter with the fire department or a monthly benefit of $5,000.00, whichever is less.

– If the member is a volunteer, a monthly benefit of $1,500.00.

– The combined total of all benefits received by any firefighter during his or her lifetime shall not exceed $50,000.00.

No firefighter who is a member of more than one fire department shall be entitled to receive benefits on behalf of more than one of such fire departments.

It is imperative that all Georgia fire departments ensure that it has an accurate database that tracks all employees and volunteers to guarantee the proper payment of premiums or an adequate amount of self-insurance. The Georgia Firefighter Standards & Training Council (GFSTC) also has a database of all legally organized fire departments and certified firefighters. However, this database does not appear to be current.  The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) and Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) are recommending that every fire department, both public and private, contact GFSTC to provide all necessary updates.  Additionally, both ACCG and GMA are offering insurance programs to provide the required cancer insurance coverage.

If your city or county contracts with a private company to provide fire services, it is also important to ensure that the private company is still legally organized and listed on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website as an active company or corporation. Your city and/or county also will need to ensure that the private company provides cancer insurance to its employees and volunteers as required by O.C.G.A. §25-3-23. These contracts may need to be modified or updated to ensure compliance with the new law. If the private company fails to obtain the cancer insurance as required by law, the contracting city or county may be liable for the payment of any claims filed.

Additionally, GFSTC has been authorized to adopt rules and regulations as are reasonable and necessary to implement the provisions of this new Code section and to establish and modify minimum requirements for all fire departments operating Georgia. Be on the look out for new these rules.

For assistance in amending contracts with a private company that provide fire services, or in reviewing your existing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with Georgia law, please contact Pamela Everett at [email protected].

Will the Georgia Supreme Court Accept this Rehearsal Dinner Invitation?

Posted on: July 14th, 2017

By: Jake Carroll

On June 30, 2017, the Georgia Court of Appeals released a divided opinion addressing the sufficiency of evidence needed to sustain a claim for food poisoning. The case arises out of a BBQ style rehearsal dinner (the #1 “Fun Rehearsal Dinner Theme” by the Knot.com) where, according to the opinion, 17 guests became ill after eating the food of Big Kev’s BBQ, a Morgan County establishment. Some of the guests later sued, alleging that the food prepared and served by Big Kev’s at the dinner had been negligently prepared, was unsavory and contaminated, and made them ill in the days after the dinner.

On appeal, the Court issued a 5-4 decision holding that a person “may prevail in food poisoning cases in Georgia by establishing that the food at issue was defective or unwholesome.” Georgia law also requires that “in the absence of direct evidence of the defectiveness of the food, recovery can be supported by circumstantial evidence only if every other reasonable hypothesis as to the cause of the [persons]’ illness can be excluded by the evidence brought forward. . . .” The Court upheld the trial court’s decision that the guests did not satisfy their burden of proof.

While this holding is not a notable change in Georgia law, two separate dissents reveal strong disagreement on the bench as to whether the trial court improperly “invaded the province of the jury” or misinterpreted the evidence in failing to satisfy the burden of proof. In either event, attorneys for the rehearsal dinner guests filed their notice of intent to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court on July 10, 2017, and practitioners are eager to see if the dissent got it right. However, Rule 40 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Georgia dictates that the high court is unlikely to review the case as to the sufficiency of the evidence, but may review the opinion on the issue of whether the trial court improperly acted as the jury.

For any questions, please contact Jake Carroll at [email protected].