News & Analysis

When does disability accommodation process run off the tracks?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) places a responsibility on employers to engage in an interactive process to identify an accommodation that will allow a person with a disability to perform the essential functions of her job. The challenge is deciding when an accommodation is reasonable and the extent of the employee's and the employer's burden in pursuing the interactive process. A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit (whose rulings apply to Arkansas employers) provides some guidance.

Trap for the unwary: Time limits on plausible workers' comp claims may not expire

Workers' compensation claims can extend for years after they seem to have expired because of inactivity, and there may be little an employer can do to control the situation. The following decision from the Arkansas Court of Appeals is a case in point.

Preparation, training help employers cope with unsettling ICE news

The thought of immigration enforcement agents surrounding a workplace, seizing business records, questioning employees, and even making arrests is worrisome to say the least. But it has been and likely will continue to be a reality for many employers since audits and raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are on the upswing. Plus, the Social Security Administration has once again begun sending "no-match letters" to employers that have W-2 forms with mismatched names and Social Security numbers. Now referred to as educational correspondence (EDCOR) or an employer correction request (ECR), the letters require employers to take action to resolve the problem. So the signals are clear: Employers with undocumented workers are on notice that they face serious consequences.

New OT rule sparks questions beyond where to set salary threshold for 'exempt' status

It has taken several years, but the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has finally issued its new final rule determining which employees can be exempt from the law requiring overtime pay. The new rule, slated to take effect January 1, 2020, is far more moderate than the Obama administration’s effort to update the salary threshold for the overtime exemption. A federal judge struck down that rule shortly before it was to go into effect in December 2016. 

Free speech rights limit Phoenix ordinance

Just as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, the Arizona Supreme Court has delivered the final word on a long-running challenge to the reach of the human rights ordinance in Phoenix.

Beware of liability when not paying trainees for orientation time

Federal law provides that once an individual becomes an employee, he is entitled to be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The law can be a bit unclear, however, about compensation to trainees who are undergoing orientation activities and studying to pass tests necessary for employment. Although mere applicants don't have to be paid during orientation, hired employees must be compensated for their orientation time. Furthermore, at-home studying for employer-specific tests should be compensated. Take care about how you communicate with applicants during orientation to avoid treating them as employees. Care also must be exercised in structuring testing and study programs to avoid liability.

9th Circuit says it's not enough for bias to be 'motivating factor'

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits covered employers from discriminating against qualified employees on the basis of a disability. In 2005, the 9th Circuit issued a ruling in Head v. Glacier Northwest, Inc., in which it said that to prove a violation of the ADA, an employee needs to show only that disability discrimination motivated the employer's adverse decision even if other reasons played a role (the "motivating factor" analysis). The employee does not have to show that the adverse employment action wouldn't have occurred but for the disability (the "but-for" standard). The motivating-factor standard applies to discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

How to identify and minimize employee burnout

You may have seen reports recently that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified employee burnout as a diagnosable medical condition. While that's not exactly accurate, the group has expanded its definition of the term in its latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases.

Context matters when firing for insubordination

Arizona is an at-will-employment state, right? So it stands to reason that employers may fire someone "at will." Not necessarily. Increasingly, Arizona laws seem to be chipping away at the at-will employment concept.

Four behaviors resilient people practice

After watching my father-in-law deliver a harrowing speech reciting his escape from a Nazi death camp as a teenager—a story I had heard him retell countless times—I was awed at the standing ovation from the audience of nearly 1,000. There's just something about the story of a hero who has overcome what seems to be the impossible that captures us. We wonder how someone who has endured so much can come out victorious, when at times even getting through a typical day is grueling.