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“Quickie elections” Upheld by 5th Circuit Court

June 17, 2016

OMA Connections Partner, Bricker & Eckler, posted this:  “On June 10, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which hears appeals from the federal courts of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, dismissed a challenge to the National Labor Relations Board’s “quickie election” rules brought by Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

“These rules, which took effect in April 2015, shortened the time between when a union files a petition to represent workers and when an election is held. This shortened period makes it more difficult for employers to inform their employees why union representation is not desirable.

“Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. argued that the quickie election rules violated employers’ right to free speech and that the National Labor Relations Board lacks the rule-making authority to modify union election procedures. It also questioned the validity of the new hearing limitations and the new requirement that employers provide the union with personal employee cell phone numbers and emails.

“The Fifth Circuit rejected these claims, finding that the Board did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in adopting the new procedures.”

Q1 Lightweighting Jobs Report Released

June 10, 2016

This week the OMA released a first quarter report on Ohio jobs in advanced manufacturing related to lightweighting.

The report finds:

  • Advanced manufacturing employers in Ohio posted 23,027 online ads for jobs related to lightweighting in Q1 2016.
  • Maintenance and repair workers represented the most in-demand lightweighting-related occupation in Ohio during Q1 2016, with 3,100 online job postings.
  • LIFT estimated that the 140 occupations used in this analysis employed more than 735,500 Ohio workers in 2015.

The report was conducted by Lightweighting Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT).  Ohio is LIFT’s state partner.

EEOC Sets Rules for Employer Wellness Programs

June 3, 2016

OMA Connections Partner, Frantz Ward, reports that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued final regulations regarding employers’ use of wellness programs. Such programs seek to promote healthy behavior by employees, often through financial incentives such as reduced healthcare benefits premiums or reduced gym membership costs.  However, the legality of wellness programs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had been uncertain.

Before these new regulations, the EEOC had been taking the position that many wellness programs violated the ADA because the financial incentives associated with those programs essentially discriminate against those with disabilities.

Under the new regulations, the EEOC has set limitations on the financial incentives employers may provide for participation in wellness programs.

These regulations are slated to apply to any wellness programs that run in conjunction with health plans that begin on or after January 1, 2017.  Read more from Frantz Ward.

A Look at the Sweeping Changes in Overtime Rule

May 27, 2016

OMA Connections Partner, Clark Schaefer Hackett posts this: “The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released a final rule that makes dramatic changes to the determination of which executive, administrative and professional employees — otherwise known as “white-collar workers” — are entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule will make it more difficult for employers to classify employees as exempt from overtime requirements. In fact, the DOL estimates that 4.1 million salaried workers will become eligible for overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

“The changes will have a tax impact as well: Employers’ payroll tax liability will increase as they pay overtime to more employees who work in excess of 40 hours a week or pay higher salaries to maintain overtime exemptions.”

Read more from Clark Schaefer Hackett and watch your email for OMA’s webinar on the topic on June 29.

Crawford Co. Employers: Help with Drug-free Workplace Issues

May 27, 2016

The Crawford-Marion Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health and the Crawford Economic Development Board have partnered with OMA Connections Partner, Working Partners®, to help area employers deal with substance abuse issues in the workplace.

The ‘Front Line at Work’ program provides:

  • Education about how to protect your business
  • Technical assistance to update or create your policy
  • Resources for current employees who are dealing with substance abuse issues
  • Access to discounted drug-testing, employee education, and supervisor training

Application deadline is June 1.  Scholarships are available.  Contact Working Partners’ Katie Lemke at (614) 337-8200.

U.S. House Subcommittee Fights Egregious Reporting Proposal

May 27, 2016

This week, at the urging of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and others, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, proposed to block funding to implement the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) proposal that would require employers to annually disclose employee pay. The language to block the funding was offered by Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD).

This proposal is a form change to the current Employer Information Survey or EEO-1 and would require employers to not only categorize each employee by gender, race, ethnicity, and job description, but also by pay band. The EEO-1 form currently has 180 data cells to complete; the proposal would increase the number of cells to 3600.

The administration believes this will help identify and target companies who are not paying employees equally.

In March, the NAM testified before the EEOC expressing deep concerns with the changes and also filed written comments to the EEOC.  The proposal is still being reviewed by the agency, but is likely to take effect before the end of the year unless the current efforts by the House can stop it.

White House Releases New Overtime Rule

May 20, 2016

OMA Connections Partner, Frantz Ward, reported that the White House this week released a new rule that could make more than four million Americans eligible for overtime pay.

According to its post, Frantz Ward wrote:  “The rule will become effective in December, and will do the following:

  • Immediately double the minimum salary threshold for most white collar exempt classifications to $47,476 per year ($913 per week)
  • Adjust the minimum salary threshold for most white collar exempt classifications for inflation every three years
  • Change the way that the minimum salary is calculated so that employers can count bonuses and commissions toward as much as 10 percent of the salary threshold

“Although the changes in the new rule are significant, many employers will be very relieved to learn that the White House decided not to make changes to the duties tests for the white collar exemptions at this time. Some observers, however, believe that changes to the duties tests are inevitable, and that the timing of those changes will depend largely on the outcome of the election in November.”

A copy of the new rule, along with a summary from the White House of the basis for the rule, can be found here.

To help employers understand what actions they should take to prepare for the December effective date of the new rule, OMA and Frantz Ward will offer a webinar on June 29.  Watch your inbox in the coming weeks for details.

OMA Weighs in on Employment Discrimination Law Improvements

May 20, 2016

The OMA provided testimony this week on SB 268, which makes numerous improvements to Ohio’s employment discrimination law.

As OMA employment counsel Joelle Khouzam of Bricker & Eckler testified on behalf of the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice Reform:  “S.B. 268 is much-needed in Ohio, for at least four reasons:  First, it will promote more consistent results and predictability in employment discrimination cases; Second, it limits the forum shopping that currently occurs; Third, it limits the use of the individual-claim anomaly to harass and humiliate individuals and to force settlements; And fourth, it will allow the state to better use taxpayer dollars to support investigative and mediation resources for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission investigators, hearing examiners, and Assistant Attorneys General.”

OMA Opposes Creating New Class of “Protected Employees”

May 20, 2016

The OMA testified against SB 301 this week, a bill that would require employers to provide certain accommodations for conditions related to an employee’s pregnancy.

The association opposes creating a new class of protected employees when the class already has protections under the law.  Both the Pregancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disability Act provide protections in current law for conditions related to an employee’s pregnancy.

House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

May 13, 2016

The House sent its medical marijuana legalization bill, HB 523, over to the Senate this week.  The Senate began hearings immediately, so that it might pass the bill prior to adjournment at the end of May.

Polls show medical marijuana legalization is overwhelmingly supported by Ohio voters.  Initiatives are headed to the November ballot, pushed by national marijuana advocacy groups.

HB 523 seeks to address Ohioan’s apparent support for the concept of medical marijuana, but builds in regulatory controls that are missing from two citizen-initiated measures that hope to gain enough signatures be on the November ballot. The bill also includes a number of employer safeguards that OMA counsel Joëlle Khouzam of Bricker & Eckler sought in testimony to the House in March.

Read an analysis of the bill prepared by Joëlle here.