Week In Review

June 29, 2015

Employers and Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling
On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, and that same-sex marriages must now be recognized nationwide. While implementation of state laws and policies regarding the Court’s ruling will take time, employers should be aware of how the ruling may affect them. The forthcoming compliance challenges include a wide range of topics including, but certainly not limited to, leave policies, FMLA, spousal health insurance and other benefits, and tax implications.

Employers Turn Focus to other ACA Provisions: Reporting Compliance and Excise Tax
On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the portion of the ACA that permits the IRS to grant tax-credit subsidies to millions of low-income people in 34 states that do not have state-run health insurance exchanges. People who received subsidies on health insurance they applied for through the federal exchange will be allowed to keep them. As the ACA appears be the law of the land, employers are now focusing on two other provisions: reporting compliance and the excise tax. Under the ACA reporting rules, companies must file annual returns beginning in 2016 reporting what health insurance they offered employees; if self-insured, they also need to report certain information for each employee they cover. Under the ACA, health insurance issuers and sponsors of self-funded group health plans will be assessed an excise tax on any benefits provided to employees that exceed a pre-determined threshold; the excise tax is imposed beginning in 2018.

Oregon Governor Brown signs law requiring employers to provide sick leave
As of January 1, 2016, all employers in the state of Oregon with one or more employees will be required to provide sick leave. Employers with 10 or more employees will be required to implement a sick time policy that allows an employee to accrue and use up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with less than 10 employees would be required to provide unpaid sick time. Employers will be required to provide written notice at least quarterly to each employee of the amount of accrued and unused sick time available. The law would not apply to employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement, those employed through a hiring hall or similar referral system operated by a labor organization or a third party, or those whose employment-related benefits are provided by a joint multi-employer-employee trust or benefit plan.

Employer’s use of DNA test to identify workplace misconduct gets employees $2.2M GINA jury verdict
A federal jury in Georgia awarded a $2.2 million verdict in favor of two employees who were required to take DNA tests to determine whether they were the culprits who had defecated in their employer’s grocery warehouse. The employees brought their lawsuit under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA makes it an “unlawful employment practice for an employer to request, require, or purchase genetic information with respect to an employee.” The great bulk of the jury’s award was attributed to punitive damages—a whopping $1.75 million.