Week In Review

November 09, 2015

Limitations period starts when absence classified non-FMLA, not when fired years later for too many absences
An employee was terminated for poor attendance over a period of seven years, in violation of her employer’s attendance policy that was based on a system of progressive discipline. The terminated employee sued her former employer alleging that some of her absences were protected by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The Court ruled that the FMLA’s two-year statute of limitations began to run when the contested absences were deemed unauthorized, not when the employee was fired years later as a consequence of her overall attendance record.

ACA’s automatic enrollment provision repealed
President Obama has signed into law a two-year budget agreement, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which includes a health care-related section that repeals the automatic enrollment requirement under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under ACA, employers with more than 200 full-time employees that offered job-based health insurance plans were required to automatically enroll their employees in a health insurance plan within 90 days of hiring. Employees would have had the right to decline coverage or select alternative policies, but in an opt-out manner rather than opt-in.

Employer faces suit after refusing to hire recovering drug addict
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against a large staffing agency for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In its lawsuit, the EEOC claims that the employer violated the ADA when it refused to hire a qualified applicant for a laborer position because she was prescribed and used methadone. In January 2015, the applicant applied for a vacant production laborer position. The applicant was told that she possessed enough experience to advance to the next part of the hiring process, and was asked provide a urine sample for a pre-employment drug test. When the applicant disclosed she was in a medically supervised methadone treatment program, the site manager took back the cup for the urine test and said, "I'm sure we don't hire people on methadone, but I will contact my supervisor." The EEOC claims that the employer violated federal law when it refused to hire the applicant “simply because she was a recovering drug addict."

Voters weigh in on minimum wage and paid sick leave
Voters in Tacoma, Washington approved an initiative to establish a minimum wage in the City that would reach $12 per hour by 2018. The minimum wage in the City would start at $10.35 per hour in February of 2016, and then would increase to $11.15 in January of 2017, and reach $12.00 in January of 2018.

Voters in Elizabeth, New Jersey approved required paid sick leave for private-sector employees in the City. The Ordinance requires private-sector employers to allow employees to accrue paid sick leave at the rate of 1 hour for each 30 hours worked. Employees who provide food service, child care, or home health care, or who work for employers with 10 or more employees would be entitled to up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. Passage of the ballot measure makes Elizabeth the 10th local paid sick leave ordinance in the state, joining Newark, Jersey City, Trenton, Passaic, Paterson, East Orange, Irvington, Montclair, and Bloomfield.

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