Week In Review

October 26, 2015

NLRB issues consolidated complaint against hospital chain
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against a parent company of a nationwide chain of hospitals, alleging that the parent company and seven wholly owned subsidiary hospitals comprise a single integrated employer. The complaint alleges various violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), including (1) maintaining work rules that infringed on employees’ rights to discuss wages, hours, and working conditions and to engage in protected activity for better treatment; (2) making statements and taking adverse actions against employees who participated in protected activity; and (3) failing to engage in good-faith bargaining with employees’ chosen collective- bargaining representatives. Employers should ensure that policies and procedures are in compliance with NLRA requirements.

CMS clarifies impact of PACE Act on SHOP exchanges
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the impact of the recently enacted Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act, which revised the definition of “small employer” for purposes of the health care exchanges. The PACE Act, effective October 7, 2015, amends section 1304(b) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to define a small employer as one that employed an average of 1-50 employees on business days during the preceding calendar year. It provides the option to states of extending this definition to include employers with up to 100 employees. With regard to what would constitute a state’s extension of the number of employees set forth in the PACE Act, the CMS advises that an action by a particular state to extend the definition of small employer to one with 100 employees that is legally binding on health insurance issuers in that state will constitute an acceptable election to extend the PACE Act’s definition. Once open enrollment for 2016 coverage begins on November 1, 2015, all FF-SHOP eligibility screens on HealthCare.gov will ask employers if they have between one and 50 employees for purposes of SHOP eligibility. The CMS states that it will not have time, between the enactment of the PACE Act and the start of open enrollment, to change these screens for specific states by November 1, but it will do so as soon as possible.

Jury awards $240,000 to Muslim drivers who wouldn’t transport alcohol
A federal jury in Illinois awarded $240,000 to two Somalian-American Muslims who were fired from their jobs as truck drivers when they refused to transport alcohol because it violated their religious beliefs. Both employees told the employer that they believed transporting alcohol would violate their religious beliefs under Islamic law. The jury found that the employer could accommodated the employees' religious beliefs – but failed to do so. The jury awarded the drivers $20,000 each in compensatory damages and $100,000 each in punitive damages.

SESCO recommends that clients review all applicable policy and practices to ensure compliance. For assistance, contact us at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com