Proclaiming it an effort to strengthen the middle class in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf announced this week a proposal to modernize the Commonwealth’s outdated overtime rules to increase pay for nearly a half million workers—he’s instructed the Department of Labor & Industry (“DOLI”) to update the white collar exemption overtime regulations and more than double the salary threshold necessary to be exempt from overtime. Sound familiar? Continue reading “Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water: PA Takes Charge—Raising White Collar Exemption Salary Threshold”
At the beginning of January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a one-page memorandum rescinding the Obama-era approach to marijuana enforcement, which had largely been “hands-off” on prosecuting marijuana users and businesses that sold marijuana in states where the drug was legalized. In its January 4 memo, the Justice Department emphasized that the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana remains prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act and is subject to “significant penalties.” The memo further stated that marijuana is a “dangerous drug” and that marijuana activity is a “serious crime.” The Attorney General concluded that previous nationwide guidance issued under the Obama administration specific to marijuana enforcement was “unnecessary” and “rescinded, effective immediately.” Continue reading “Sessions Isn’t Blowing Smoke—Marijuana Enforcement Is Back on the Books”
Unless you spent the last month on a Caribbean island, you know that a majority of the country was in a deep freeze in late December and early January. Numerous record lows were set and some states, such as the Dakotas and Minnesota, experienced wind chills significantly below zero.
Although temperatures have returned to average in most parts of the country, winter will be with us for a few more months; and the recent freeze is likely to be repeated. The extreme temperatures serve as an important reminder that employers need to take appropriate measures to protect workers from cold stress before it causes harm. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers have a duty to protect workers from recognized hazards, including cold stress hazards. Continue reading “Warming Up to OSHA’s New Cold Stress Guide”
As the breaking news reaffirms in graphic detail on an almost daily basis, we are in a transformative time when it comes to how claims of harassment are reported and handled in the workplace. From Hollywood to Rockefeller Center, and everywhere in-between, employers must be prepared. On December 15, 2017, Blank Rome’s Labor and Employment co-chairs, Scott Cooper and Brooke Iley, held an emergency briefing by webinar entitled: “The #MeToo Movement: Are You Prepared?” Continue reading “Sexual Harassment and the #MeToo Movement: Immediate Action Items for Employers”
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”), which has been approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives, includes a provision that eliminates the “performance-based” exception to the $1 million limit on compensation deductions, and makes certain other important related changes. Under current law, compensation deductions for a publicly-traded employer for its top executives (other than the Chief Financial Officer) is limited to $1 million, plus compensation that qualifies as performance-based. Qualified performance-based pay generally includes stock options and stock appreciation rights, and restricted stock, restricted stock units, and cash incentive bonuses conditioned on the satisfaction of pre-established quantitative performance conditions approved in advance. Continue reading “Public Company Alert: New Tax Law Re-Writes the Rules under Tax Code Section 162(m)”
NLRB Reverses Landmark Browning-Ferris Decision and Loosens Test for Joint Employer Status
On Thursday, December 14, 2017, employers scored a significant victory at the National Labor Relations Board. The Board, in a straight 3-2 partisan vote, reversed its 2015 decision in Browning-Ferris Industries and eliminated the rule that employers and their contractors or franchisees can be deemed a “joint employer” even when one company does not exert direct control over the second entity’s workers.
In Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors Ltd. and Brandt Construction Co., NLRB Chair Philip Miscimarra, joined by the two newest NLRB board members, William Emanuel and Marvin Kaplan, significantly reduced the scope of joint employer status in reversing BFI. The issue over the scope of joint employer status at the Board has been simmering for some time, as NLRB Chair Miscimarra wrote a dissenting opinion in the 2015 BFI decision, which was issued under the Obama administration when Democrat members held the Board majority. Continue reading “Employers Score Major Win as Predicted Changes at National Labor Relations Board Start to Come True”
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”), which was agreed upon by the House/Senate Conference Committee last week, includes a provision that imposes an excise tax equal to the corporate tax rate—which is 21 percent under the Act—on certain compensation paid to employees of tax-exempt entities, including not only 501(c)(3) organizations, but also 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) organizations, as well as governmental employers and political organizations.
Under the Act, an employer subject to the new rules would be required to pay the excise tax with respect to compensation paid to any of its five most highly compensated employees (referred to under the Act as “Covered Employees”) in two separate instances. Continue reading “Congress’ New Tax Law—Excise Tax Coming on Compensation of Tax-Exempt Organization Executives”