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The Department of Labor’s Response to the Recent Lawsuit Regarding Overtime RegulationsSeptember 2016

In another attempt to limit the revised white collar overtime exemptions, which are set to go into effect on December 1, 2016, several states and business groups have filed two federal lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas to stop one part of the new regulations. Neither New Jersey nor New York joined the lawsuits. The lawsuits challenge both the initial raise of the salary basis (from $455/week to $913/week) as well as the automatic inflation-linked adjustments every three years. The U.S. Department of Labor issued a statement defending the revised regulations. Employers in New Jersey and New York (and elsewhere for that matter) should not rely on these lawsuits succeeding and should still be planning to comply with the revised regulations effective December 1, 2016.

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HR Tip of the Month: Autism Awareness MonthMarch 2016

April is Autism awareness month – but what does that have to do with managing your workforce? If you are asking that question, it is time for a refresher on employees’ intermittent leave rights under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) (and, for New Jersey employers, the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“FLA”)).  Under the FMLA, employees may take leave in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason, and the leave may be taken in blocks as little as one hour of time.  The basis for this leave may include the need to provide psychological comfort to a covered family member with a serious health condition.  For example, if an employee’s child suffers from autism, that employee may be eligible to take intermittent leave to care for his child with little or no advance notice.

Employers that do not understand their employees’ rights in intermittent leave in these types of situations may unintentionally interfere with an employee’s right to job protected intermittent leave.  Proper training of the employees tasked with receiving employee leave requests or late call-ins, must be trained to identify when an employee’s particular situation may justify designating intermittent leave under the FMLA.  Failure to do so will very likely result in violation of the FMLA and cause an otherwise preventable claim.

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HR Tip of the Month: Are You Sure Your Company is Complying With Family Leave Laws?June 2015

Although the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been around for over twenty years, many employers still do not get it right when it comes to their obligations to notify their employees generally of their rights, respond correctly to employee requests for leave, correctly calculate and designate leave to which an employee is entitled, or to reinstate an employee when legally required to do so. And in New Jersey, like several other states, employers are doubly tripped up on the interplay of the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA), which in some situations runs concurrent with the federal FMLA yet does not in other situations.  Compounding the compliance conundrum in states like New Jersey is the further interaction of the Temporary Disability Benefits Law and the Paid Family Leave Law.

Compliance with these laws - and more importantly working with counsel to ensure your human resources professionals do not get tripped up by the constantly shifting sands in this area - is imperative to avoid claims by employees of failure to provide leave, interference with leave rights, and retaliation for taking leave.  Considering that such claims are usually accompanied by a companion discrimination claim, employers must prioritize compliance with the web of federal and state leave laws.

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Definition of “Spouse” Under the FMLA Now Includes Same-Sex Spouses No Matter Where They LiveMarch 2015

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) new rule broadening the definition of “spouse” under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is effective March 27, 2015.  The new rule amends the definition of “spouse” under the FMLA such that eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live.  New Jersey had previously recognized same-sex marriage and civil union partners under the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“NJFLA”).  Employers can now be confident that both FMLA and NJFLA time periods may run concurrently with respect to same-sex spouses, i.e. an employee caring for a same-sex spouse may only take 12 total weeks of leave, provided the leave is for an event covered by both laws.

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