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Archive for the ‘Employment Law Blog (US)’ Category

And The Saga Continues… EEO-1 Pay Data Likely Due September 30, 2019

Posted on: April 26th, 2019

By: Brad Adler and Brent Bean

As we have previously reported, in 2016, the EEOC adopted additional EEO-1 pay data collection requirements commanding employers to report employee wages and hours worked by race, ethnicity and sex. By way of background, companies with 100 or more employees, along with federal contractors who employ 50 or more employees, have long been required to submit to the EEOC annual Employer Information Reports, so-called EEO-1 reports. These reports disclose information concerning the number of employees a company employs broken down by job category, race, sex, and ethnicity. But with the additional pay data collection requirements, pay data also must be sorted by race, ethnicity and sex.

In August 2017, the Office of Management and Budget announced a stay of this pay data collection requirement, citing the burden imposed on businesses. In response, the National Women’s Law Center brought suit in the District Court for Washington, D.C., challenging the OMB’s basis for taking that action and seeking to reinstate the pay data collection.

On March 4, 2019, that court ruled that the EEOC must reinstate the pay and work hours reporting component of the EEO-1 Report. See National Women’s Law Center v. Office of Management and Budget, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33828 (D.D.C. Mar. 4, 2019). Since that ruling (which was a blow to employers and a surprise to everyone, including the EEOC), the EEOC and the plaintiffs have been battling with each other (and the Court) over the timeline for collection of this data.

The same District Court judge has now ruled that the EEO-1 pay data (sorted by race, ethnicity and sex) must be collected from covered employers by September 30, 2019.  The Commission advises that the portal will be open for pay data by July 15, 2019. As such, it is advisable that covered employers prepare now to submit 2018 pay data by September 30, 2019. Be advised, however, that reporting of customary EEO-1 data for 2018 is still due by May 31, 2019.

While there remains the option of an appeal of the District Court’s order, such an appeal may, or may not, have the effect of staying compliance with the order. As a result, we advise employers to start now in preparing for submission of the required pay data. In doing so, employers should work with outside counsel to identify any disparities that may draw increased scrutiny and to understand what legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons exist for their present pay practices.

FMG will keep you updated on activity by the Commission and its actions (and reactions) on this continuing saga.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Brad Adler at [email protected] or Brent Bean at [email protected].

FMG Client Headed to Supreme Court in Landmark Title VII Case to Resolve LGBT Employment Standards

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019

The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to review two federal circuit court decisions that reached differing conclusions as to whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers sexual orientation. For approximately 40 years, the EEOC and the federal circuit courts have unanimously held that Title VII does not encompass sexual orientation. The EEOC changed its position in 2014 and determined that Title VII encompasses sexual orientation. The Seventh Circuit likewise reversed its position in 2017, and the Second Circuit changed its position in early 2018 and held in Zarda v. Altitude Express that Title VII encompasses sexual orientation. Later in 2018, the Eleventh Circuit re-affirmed circuit precedent and held in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Supreme Court agreed to review Bostock and Zarda and consolidated the two cases.

Freeman Mathis and Gary, LLP represents Clayton County in Bostock and will argue that Title VII does not apply to a claim of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In addition, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the Sixth Circuit case of R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC. That case raises the question of whether Title VII provides protection to transgender persons. That case is similar in some regard to the Bostock and Zarda cases, however, their distinctions are evident in that the Court did not consolidate the Harris case with Bostock and Zarda.

In granting certiorari in the Harris case, the Supreme Court may revisit a concept outlined in its 1989 decision in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, which held that it was unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII to discriminate against employees because they do not conform to ideas of how a certain gender should behave.

These cases will be argued and decided sometime during the Court’s 2019-2020 term, which begins in October.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us at [email protected].

Employers May Need to Submit EEO-1 Pay Data As Early As May 31, 2019, Although the EEOC is Advocating for a Later Deadline of September 30, 2019

Posted on: April 15th, 2019

By: Paige Pembrook

Last month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reinstated the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rule requiring employers to report pay information by race, ethnicity and sex with their EEO-1 Report. However, employers still wait for an answer on when they will have to actually file the pay data. If employee advocacy groups have their way, it could be as soon as May 31, 2019. However, the EEOC is pushing for later deadline of September 30, 2019.

The EEO-1 Report is mandatory for businesses with at least 100 employees and federal contractors with at least 50 employees and a federal government contract of $50,000. Such employers must report the number of employees who work for the business by job category, race, sex, and ethnicity on the EEO-1 Report.

In 2016, the EEOC adopted additional EEO-1 pay data collection requirements commanding employers to report employee wages and hours worked by race, ethnicity and sex. In 2017, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stayed the pay data requirements. Employee advocacy groups sued to challenge the stay on the basis that the OMB provided inadequate reasoning to support its decision.

On March 4, 2019, the U.S. District Court Judge agreed with the employee advocates and ordered, “the previous approval of the revised EEO-1 form shall be in effect,” including the pay data collection requirements. (National Women’s Law Center v. Office of Management and Budget, No. 17-cv-2458). The Judge also ordered the EEOC to describe when and how it will comply with the order lifting the stay on the EEO-1 pay data collection.

Employers must be aware that the ruling could take immediate effect and require employers to submit pay data as early as May 31, 2019, along with the other 2018 EEO-1 information. However, the EEOC is pushing for a later deadline of September 30, 2019, to allow employers more time to collect the required data.

On April 3, 2019, the EEOC filed court documents proposing that employers be required to submit pay data to the agency by September 30, 2019. The EEOC’s filing also proposed that employers only be required to submit pay data for 2018, rather than 2017 and 2018, and describes the EEOC’s plan to use a data and analytics contractor to develop a new reporting program to collect the data.

On April 8, 2019, the employee advocacy groups told the judge that they want the EEOC to collect employers’ pay data by the same May 31, 2019, deadline that employers must submit other EEO-1 information or show why that is impossible.

After a hearing on April 16, 2019, the Judge will have the final say on the deadline. FMG will continue to watch the EEO-1 Report developments and provide updates to keep employers informed. In the meanwhile, employers should prepare to collect and report the required pay data as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Paige Pembrook at [email protected].

Jeff Bezos Just Challenged Amazon’s Retail Rivals To Match Its $15 Minimum Wage – Is Bezos’ Challenge Checkmate or Checkout For the Push To Increase Minimum Wage?

Posted on: April 15th, 2019

By: Brad Adler and Matthew Jones

Five months ago, in November, 2018, Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15/hour. Now, Amazon’s leader is challenging his competitors in the retail sector to do the same.  In a letter to shareholders that was submitted to the SEC on April 11, 2019, Jeff Bezos stated “Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage… Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone.”

Bezos’ aggressive challenge comes in the midst of an undercurrent of momentum for an increase in both federal and state minimum wage laws. That momentum seems to be leading to some changes at the state level. For instance, on January 1, 2019, California’s minimum wage was increased to $12/hour for companies with 26 or more employees. Likewise, Maine increased its minimum wage from $10,00 to $11.00 in 2019 and Massachusetts raised its minimum wage rate from $11.00 to $12.00.

So what effect, if any, will Bezos’ challenge and the state movements have on the federal minimum wage? Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour, which is significantly lower than the minimum wage rate in many states (including Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New York and New Jersey). Just recently, the House Education and Labor Committee passed the “Raise the Wage Act,” which proposes to increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hour over the next six years. Most commentators believe that the likelihood that this bill will become law is very low, but it nevertheless is a reminder to all of the stakeholders, including employers, that the issue of minimum wage isn’t going away anytime soon.

Of course, not everyone takes kindly to the billionaire’s $15/hour challenge. In response to the challenge, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs Dan Bartless tweeted out: “Hey retail competitors out there (you know who you are) how about paying your taxes?”

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Brad Adler at [email protected] or Matthew Jones at [email protected].

New Rule, Who Dis? DOL Proposes Changes to Joint Employment Regulations

Posted on: April 8th, 2019

By: Will Collins

On April 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced notice of proposed rulemaking, amending the DOL regulations addressing joint employers under the federal wage and hour law (i.e. the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)) and providing guidance and clarification long sought by employers.

The proposed changes announced last week mark the first revision to the DOL’s joint employment regulations since originally promulgated in 1958.

The proposed changes, which seek to address the situation where an employee works for his or her employer and that work simultaneously benefits another person or entity, offer a Four-Part Test to determine if an organization is a joint-employer by assessing whether that organization:

  1. Hires or fires the employee;
  2. Supervises and controls the employee’s work schedule or conditions of employment;
  3. Determines the employee’s rate and method of payment; and
  4. Maintains the employee’s employment records.

The DOL’s proposed changes also makes clear that only actual actions taken, “rather than the theoretical ability to do so under a contract, are relevant to joint employer status.”

The proposed changes also clarify that certain business models (such as franchises), practices, and agreements do not make joint employment more likely.

Under the proposed changes, examples activities not indicative of joint employment include:

  • Providing a sample handbook or other forms as a part of a franchise agreement;
  • Allowing employer to operate a facility on its premises; or
  • Offering or participating in an association health or retirement plan.

And examples of agreements that do not indicate joint employment include contractual provisions requiring an employer to maintain:

  • workplace safety practices;
  • a wage floor;
  • sexual harassment policies; or
  • other measures to encourage compliance with the law or to promote desired business practice

Take Away

The proposed changes would provide welcome clarity for employers and, through its articulation of a Four-Part Test, examples of business models, practices, and agreements that do not indicate joint employment, and the list of illustrative hypotheticals addressing specific joint employment scenarios, the proposed changes would provide needed guidance and certainty to joint employment in the FLSA context.

Now subject to a 60-day public comment period, we will continue to monitor the DOL’s proposed changes to the joint employment regulations.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Will Collins at [email protected].