Supreme Court Validates Class/Collective Action Waivers in Employment Arbitration Agreements

What Happened?

On May 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis that employers can require employees to arbitrate disputes with the employer (including disputes arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act) individually and waive their right to pursue or participate in class or collective actions against their employer.  This ruling resolved a split among circuit courts because some circuits (including the 9th Circuit) found such waivers were unenforceable as a matter of law. The Supreme Court concluded, “Congress has instructed federal courts to enforce arbitration agreements according to their terms—including terms providing for individualized proceedings.”

What this Means?

This decision is a significant win for employers.  Before Epic Systems, the wisdom of requiring employees to arbitrate employment disputes was debatable.  That debate is over.  The benefit of avoiding the oppressive expense and catastrophic legal exposure faced by employers in defending class and collective employment law actions far outweighs any arguable downside of arbitration.

What to Do?

Implement an employment dispute arbitration agreement (or amend your organization’s existing arbitration agreement) to include an explicit class and collective action waiver.  We are available to assist your organization with this process.

 

EE0-1 2017 Survey Filing Deadline on the Horizon (3/31/18)

The EEO-1 is an annual survey that requires all private employers with 100 or more employees and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract/subcontract of $50,000 or more to file the EEO-1 report.  The EEO-1 report provides employment data by race/ethnicity, gender and job categories. The filing of the EEO-1 report is not voluntary and is required by federal law.  The annual filing deadline is March 31.

Employers who meet the criteria listed above and have not received the 2017 EEO-1 Notification Letter by Jan. 29, 2018, should imme­diately contact the EEO-1 Joint Reporting Committee at 1-877-392-4647 (toll-free) or by e-mailing e1.techassistance@eeoc.gov.   The EEOC’s EEO-1 Survey website at https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo1survey contains reference documents such as a EEO-1 User’s Guide, sample form, instructions, FAQs, a fact sheet and a EEO-1 Job Classification Guide.

The EEOC Settles With a Phoenix Company for ADA Violation

The EEOC announced today a settlement of an ADA failure to accommodate charge filed against ValleyLife that included a payment of $100,000, among other remedies.

The charge alleged that ValleyLife violated the ADA’s reasonable accommodation obligation by terminating employees automatically upon exhaustion of their paid time off and/or any unpaid leave period (such as FMLA). According to the EEOC, the employer should have engaged in an interactive process with the Charging Party to explore other accommodations (including additional time off) before considering termination.

Key Take-Aways From this Settlement

* Providing an employee with a medical leave of absence for the full time period required by company policy and/or applicable leave laws (such as FMLA) does not necessarily satisfy the employer’s reasonable accommodation obligation under the ADA

**  Each medical leave of absence scenario must be evaluated on an individualized basis to determine if accommodations exist to avoid termination

*** The interactive process MUST be documented in a carefully crafted communication to the employee in case the decision is later challenged    

AZ Paid Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Posters – NOW AVAILABLE

As previously advised (see http://www.gabrielashworth.com/arizona-passes-proposition-raising-minimum-wage-and-requiring-paid-sick-leave/) the “Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act” (the “Act”) requires employers to post a notice in the workplace describing employees’ rights under the Act.  The Industrial Commission of Arizona has published model minimum wage and paid sick leave notices in both English and Spanish, which can be found at https://www.azica.gov/posters-employers-must-display.  Even though the paid sick leave law does not become effective until July 1, 2017, we recommend employers post both notices now.

 

 

Arizona Passes Proposition Raising Minimum Wage and Requiring Paid Sick Leave

With the passage of Proposition 206, many Arizona employees will be getting a raise and paid sick leave.  The new law, known as the “Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act” (the Act), increases Arizona’s minimum wage from its current $8.05/hour to $10.00/hour, effective January 1, 2017.  For the following 3 years, the minimum wage will increase by specified amounts, capping out at $12.00/hour on January 1, 2020.  Beginning January 1, 2021, the minimum wage will increase annually based on cost living as measured by the consumer price index.

As of July 1, 2017, Arizona employers must provide all employees with paid sick leave.  Employers with fewer than 15 employees must provide employees with 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 24 hours per year.  Employers with 15 or more employees must provide 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year.  The Act broadly defines the reasons employees may use sick leave and contains multiple rules regarding the accrual, taking and administration of paid sick leave.  Employers are required to post a notice in the workplace that outlines employees’ rights under the Act.  The Arizona Industrial Commission will soon publish a model notice.

What to do?  Audit your workforce to determine who will be entitled to a wage increase on January 1, 2017.  Review your current sick leave or PTO policy to ensure the policy meets the requirements of the Act. If not, the policy should be amended before July 1, 2017.   We are available to answer any questions you may have and/or assist with revising your policies and procedures to address the Act’s requirements.