This month’s roundup is a little more politically oriented than usual, but that’s probably to be expected now that we’re less than a year away from a presidential election. Hang in there, everyone, and we’ll get through this.
Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain made a lot of headlines in November for allegations of sexual harassment, and many employers probably found themselves having Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill flashbacks. This article from TLNT.com gives employers some sound advice on how to handle (or not handle) sexual harassment claims made against a company executive.
Health care reform legislation keeps popping up in the news as well. A new Senate bill seeks to repeal the component of the Affordable Care Act that would make health insurance companies pay taxes on their net premiums for fully insured customers. The tax would take effect in 2014, and would help fun the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, in health care reform administration, the Department of Labor has scuppered the March 23, 2012, deadline for health plans and insurance issuers to file their Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). It’s likely that the deadline has been pushed out due to the volume of feedback the DOL received during the public comment period, and that new language will be included in the template for the SBC that will be released… at some point. No new deadline for companies to file the SBC has been announced.
Another trend in employment law is social media, and for good reason: it’s becoming a major component of lawsuits. Here’s a good wrap-up of recent trends in social media and litigation, with some of the usual takeaways: have a policy that makes sense, make sure everyone knows the policy and stay up-to-date on trends in technology and culture.
One new development this year is the authorization of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program. The program was put into place this year, and is likely to make its first reward payouts next year. It’ll have a lot to choose from: According to the Wall Street Journal, “the SEC said it received 334 whistleblower tips in the seven weeks [between] when the final rules became effective on Aug. 12 and the Sept. 30 financial year’s end.” Hard to say whether that’s good news or bad news.
Something that’s definitely bad news is an employer requiring employees to falsify their timesheets. Not only were the employees not paid correctly for overtime, their hours were underreported to their benefits and pension funds. The company president who instigated the falsifying was recently sentenced to serve 2 years in jail and pay $3.3 million in restitution. Needless to say, please don’t ever do anything like that.
And finally, from the “NO-NO-NO-NO-NO” files, we’d like to think this should go without saying, but… you might want to make sure that none of your supervisors would do something like send an employee a picture of Santa Claus dressed as a KKK member standing next to a burning cross. The damage done by such a thing—to the employee receiving it, to the company morale and to the company’s financial security—would make for the worst holiday ever.
We hope that the last item is the worst holiday-lawsuit bait story we have to report this year. Until next month, keep it legal, folks.