Employment Law Updates

Effective January 1, 2015, the revised injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) went into effect. Employers were previously required to report all work-related fatalities and inpatient hospitalizations of three or more employees within 8 hours.

The new rules still require employers to report all fatalities to OSHA within 8 hours, but now employers will also have to report each single work-related inpatient hospitalization, as well as amputations and losses of an eye, to OSHA within 24 hours. The 8 and 24-hour periods are measured from the time the employer learns about the injury or fatality, not from when the event occurred. OSHA’s webpage describes the new rules.

Those employers that have 15 or more employees are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and have a duty to make a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s disability.

The courts have been divided about whether allowing an employee to work from home (telecommuting) can be a reasonable accommodation. A recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit provides an example of a court concluding that this potential accommodation might be reasonable.

The Federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Virginia) last week issued a decision of first impression concerning an employer’s liability for harassment of an employee caused by a third party such as a visiting vendor.

In that case a regular customer of the employer engaged in sexual and racial harassment of a black female employee. For the first time, the 4th Circuit adopted a negligence standard for determining if an employer is liable:

The Federal Trade Commission and the EEOC recently co-published two guidance documents concerning the use of background checks for employment purposes. One document is for employers, and the other is for job applicants and employees. The EEOC examines background checks in the context of employment discrimination claims, while the FTC enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act which governs the use of background checks performed for employment purposes. These documents review and reiterate previous guidance from these agencies, but also provide “best practices”

Several months ago we alerted you to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that you give a written notice to all employees about the new health insurance Exchanges by October 1, 2013. It is important to remember that you must also give the notice to each new employee at the time of hire or no later than within 14 days of an employee’s start date. The U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) has provided a model Exchange notice for employers who offer a health plan to some or all employees, and a separate model notice for employers who do not offer a health plan. Those model notices are found on the DOL’s web page with other information about the Act" . Employers may use one of those models or may use another form of notice, provided that the notice contain the required information as described on the DOL’s information page.

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