Arkansas News & Analysis

  • Winter is coming: FLSA and your pay obligations during inclement weather

    During the winter months, the threat of the weather turning frightful is on everyone's mind. No matter what business you may be in, inclement weather and treacherous road conditions can cause many headaches—including issues with employee payroll. Many employers grapple with the question of how to pay employees when the business is closed because of bad weather and whether deductions from pay for closures are allowed. Let's explore what the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires of employers when Mother Nature wreaks havoc.

  • Looking back at 2019 and to what's ahead for federal agencies in 2020

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) all ramped up their enforcement endeavors in 2019. The NLRB has refocused its efforts on unionized businesses, the new EEOC chair is pushing to settle old cases, the OFCCP director is aiming to end the year with the largest settlement total in the agency's history by resolving or litigating old audits, and the WHD has filed a record number of enforcement cases against employers.

  • SCOTUS decision on LGBTQ workplace protections coming in 2020

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In recent years, controversy over whether the term "sex" as used in Title VII includes sexual orientation and gender identity has arisen among the federal circuit courts of appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to resolve the split. No matter where the Court falls on the issue, the decision will supersede existing precedent in at least some circuits and will have a lasting impact for decades to come.

  • Truth about holiday season? It's not always what it's nut-cracked up to be

    Many of us are fully involved in the crush of festivities and holiday shopping that traditionally mark the beginning of the sprint to New Year's Eve. This is the season of peace on earth and good will toward our fellow man, right? Well, not always.

  • Proposed rule aims to expand use of fluctuating workweek

    A new proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) intends to clarify that employers that pay nonexempt workers bonuses or other incentive-based pay in addition to a fixed salary can use the fluctuating workweek (FWW) method of paying overtime as a way to keep costs down as long as other requirements for using the method are met.

  • Agency Action

    NLRB reports progress in case processing. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has reported improved case processing statistics for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The NLRB issued 303 decisions in contested cases during FY 2019. Adopting a case processing pilot program, the Board focused on issuing decisions in some of the oldest cases. As a result, the median age of all cases pending before the Board was reduced from 233 days in FY 2018 to 157 days at the end of FY 2019. The NLRB also said it reduced the number of cases pending before it to its lowest level since 2012. As of the end of FY 2019, the number of pending cases was reduced from 281 at the end of FY 2018 to 227 when the report was released on October 7. Also, the NLRB regional offices made strides toward meeting the Board's strategic goal to reduce case processing time by 20 percent over four years. In just one year, the regions overall nearly met the four-year goal by reducing the time of filing to disposition of unfair labor practice cases from 90 to 74 days, a decrease of 17.5 percent.

  • Failure to request FMLA leave doesn't mean ADA won't require leave

    Employers are often faced with the task of determining how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) interacts with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit (whose rulings apply to employers in Arkansas) found an employee could pursue an ADA claim based on the denial of leave even though she failed to follow the procedures to request FMLA leave for which she would have been eligible.

  • Plan administrator awards life insurance proceeds to domestic partner instead of children

    The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) governs employee rights and employer responsibilities for all employer-provided fringe benefits. When designing and implementing benefits plans, employers may vest enormous discretion in plan administrators to interpret and implement benefits provisions. In a recent ERISA case, the 8th Circuit emphasized the broad discretion you may invest in a plan administrator.

  • Video surveillance not enough to disqualify worker from continued benefits

    Employers expend a significant amount of energy trying to combat workers' compensation abuse. Some employers go as far as hiring investigators to surveil employees suspected of exaggerating or falsifying their injuries in an effort to catch them engaging in physical activity that contradicts the supposed severity of their disabilities or medical condition. A recent case before the Arkansas Court of Appeals demonstrates that even video surveillance and the testimony of a treating physician may not be enough to defeat a claim for continued workers' comp benefits.

  • Agency Action

    NLRB switches standard relating to CBA changes. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in September adopted the "contract coverage" standard for determining whether a unionized employer's unilateral change in a term or condition of employment violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In doing so, the NLRB abandoned the "clear and unmistakable waiver" standard. Under the contract coverage standard, the Board will examine the plain language of the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to determine whether the change made by the employer was within the compass or scope of contractual language granting the employer the right to act unilaterally. If it was, the employer will not have violated the NLRA. If the CBA doesn't cover the employer's disputed action, the employer will have violated the Act unless it demonstrates the union waived its right to bargain over the change or it was privileged to act unilaterally for some other reason. The decision is M.V. Transportation, Inc.