While some of y’all might have taken a vacation this past month, employment law never does, and neither do the courts, the plaintiffs or various government agencies.
The US Department of Labor issued a brief elaborating on the intern-vs-employee question to support an upcoming case before the Second District Court. The brief might or might not influence the court’s decision, but in the meantime, it provides some solid guidelines to staying out of trouble on this issue.
Other guidance was provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about pregnancy discrimination. The EEOC put forth the idea that pregnancy is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and therefore reasonable accommodations must be given for pregnant employees.
Speaking of pregnancy, or at least the avoidance of it, the DOL also issued guidance for companies that plan to drop contraception coverage. Group health plans offered by closely held, private companies can drop this coverage, but they have to notify participants within 60 days of the change.
Elsewhere in medical news, a US District Court ruled that migraine headaches are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act. If you’ve ever had a migraine, this makes perfect sense.
Also covered by the FMLA is caring for a grandchild, at least if you’re caring for the grandchild because doing so will help their parent—your kid, who has a medical issue for which you’re actually taking the FMLA leave to care for them. (That made sense, right?) Additionally, failure to provide a return-to-work date doesn’t automatically mean an employee forfeits their FMLA rights or job protection. The takeaway for employers is to err on the side of compassion for caregivers, and to remember that you can’t always predict the length of an illness or recuperation.
While we’re in the alphabet soup, let’s talk FLSA (the Fair Labor Standards Act). A federal court recently ruled that RadioShack had to pay $5.8 million in owed overtime to workers in Pennsylvania. The FLSA allows for a “fluctuating workweek” when determining whether or not overtime should be paid, but Pennsylvania law does not. Takeaway: be sure you know all the state laws in your market.
And now, time for “They did what?!“, special Facebook edition. There are three lessons here. One, posting awful things about the kids you teach on your Facebook profile is not protected by the First Amendment. Two, don’t post about your employees’ medical conditions on Facebook, even if they really, really annoy you. And finally, if you’re using electronic or social media postings as evidence, you’ve got to show screenshots; transcribing the content onto a piece of paper doesn’t count.
What a month! Hope yours was more fun than these folks’.