New Gender Pay Laws: What Employers Need to Know

Featured

Recently, the federal government announced its intent to gather detailed information about the pay practices from businesses with more than 100 workers to address gender discrimination, making employers subject to a heightened pay transparency standard by the end of this calendar year.

What has been proposed?
The proposed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) action will require businesses to provide report employees’ earnings by gender, as well as race and ethnicity, to make it easier to identify pay gaps.

Who will be impacted?
This action will apply to businesses with more than 100 workers, encompassing more than 63 million Americans.

How will employers report the information?
Currently, employers complete the EEO-1 form on an annual basis, providing demographic information about race, gender, and ethnicity. New reporting would also require salary and pay information to be included.

Why has the change been proposed?
Announced on the seventh anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a federal law that overturned a Supreme Court decision making it easier for employees to bring equal pay claims, the goal of additional data-gathering is to allow the EEOC to identify businesses that might have pay gaps, and then target those who are discriminating on account of gender.

When will employers be subject to the new law?
It is anticipated that the revised EE0-1 form with pay collection data will be approved and put into effect this fall. Employers will have to submit pay data for the first time in September 2017.

What should employers do now?
It is critical for affected companies to make it a priority to review current pay systems, and identify and address any areas of pay disparity to minimize increased scrutiny next year.

Through internal gender-specific audits, employers can determine whether pay gaps exist and have time to determine whether disparities can be justified by legitimate and non-discriminatory explanations, or whether corrective action will be needed.

This alert provides an overview of a proposed new federal regulation. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

For more information about this proposal, or how it may affect your business, please contact Shayna Balch, partner at Fisher & Phillips or via phone, 602.281.3406.

 

Managing Employees in a Digital World

Featured

ShaynaBalchFisher&PhillipsBy Shayna Balch
Partner, Fisher & Phillips, LLC

Like the standard cup of morning coffee, just about everyone in the workforce is now a frequent user of social media sites, including personal blogs, Facebook and Twitter. As we’ve seen a number of times, online activity by employees can be very problematic. However, with some proper planning and an in-depth understanding of current social media laws, employers can stay one step ahead when trying to navigate the treacherous digital landscape.

1. Look at the complete picture
There are many problems that can arise from employee activity online, including using the Internet to publicly criticize the company or disclose confidential information. The key to curbing this behavior is to look at how the content is affecting you, your business and your customers and then take the necessary and legal steps to prevent it from going any further.

2. Have a social media policy
Having a policy is a critical step to enable you to act upon improper online activity by employees. Without a written policy in place, it will be harder to justify actions taken against employees who are involved in inappropriate, but legal, behavior online, especially where the activity is done during off work-hours.

3. Details matter most
Define the company’s expectations regarding social media very clearly in company’s handbook and provide a non-exclusive list of the types of social media websites that should be considered. You should also include some specific rules that pertain to trademarks, the condoning/promotion of illegal activity and the rules surrounding the use of social media while on work time or company equipment.

4. Know the law
The National Labor Relations Board has taken the position that some uses of social media are protected concerted activity, and that employer policies may violate employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act — even when the employees are non-unionized. Employee use of social media to organize, discuss workplace terms and conditions, discuss pay/benefits, for “whistleblowing,” etc. may be protected. For example, an employee posting online that she is forced to work unpaid overtime or requesting that other employees work together to solve an HR problem, may all be activity that is protected. So, beware of overbroad policies.

5. Investigate and document everything
Ask yourself the following questions before taking action based on social media postings. What are the facts? Is the content protected? Is action legally required? If the employee has violated the law or disclosed information that could subject the company to liability, it might be time to call your attorney.

If the employee has not broken the law, but violated company policy, it is always important to handle the situation with the highest level of professionalism. It is also important to impose any discipline in a consistent and non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory manner.

Shayna Balch is a partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP in Phoenix. She represents employers in employment and labor litigation matters before federal and state courts, as well as before administrative agencies. She can be reached at sbalch@laborlawyers.com.

OSHA OMG: Violations and shaming employers

DeniseBlommelBy Denise M. Blommel
Employment Law Attorney

First, penalties for OSHA violations go way up on August 1, 2016.

Second, OSHA admitted on its website that its motivation is to shame employers.

As the kids say, “OMG!”

OSHA penalties have not risen since 1990.

Here’s the new penalty schedule, which Arizona’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) must adopt:

Willful                                                    No less than $8,908 or more than $124,709.

Repeat                                                   No more than $124,709

Serious and other than serious          No more than $12,471

Failure to correct                                  No more than $12,471 per day

Posting violation                                  No more than $12,471

Not every employer has to keep an OSHA 300 log.  (See the list here to ascertain whether your business is exempt.)  If you are exempt, breathe a little easier.  If not, take a deep breath.

If your business has to keep an OSHA 300 log, you only have a few months to get ready for the 21st century version of the pillory stocks. In its record-keeping final rule, the federal government admits, “Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will ‘nudge’ employers to focus on safety.”  Dr. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, said that dirty laundry, heretofore private, will be available to investors, job seekers, customers and the public. According to the government, OSHA logs will be the basis for “big data,” which is a cruel joke given the underfunding of this agency.

The new rules also prohibit retaliation against employees. There is no private right of action for employees so they must rely upon ADOSH and the Industrial Commission of Arizona to prosecute their claims. You still must be careful not to retaliate.

ADOSH will be adopting these new rules. They will be phased in over the next two years by the number of employees and the riskiness of industries.

Here’s what you need to do now:

  • Talk with your worker compensation carrier
  • Transition from paper to electronic media
  • Ascertain what records your business must keep
  • Ascertain what is recordable
  • Review your anti-retaliation policies
  • Do not discourage reporting

Part of being an employer in the Modern World is record-keeping. Your employee handbook probably says, “Safety First.”  Now, it is imperative.