Kansas News & Analysis

  • Employers exploring whether they can require COVID-19 vaccinations

    Recent days have brought encouraging news about the development of COVID-19 vaccines. The prospect of vaccines being available in early 2021 has caused employers to begin considering whether they will require employees to obtain a coronavirus vaccination as a condition of employment. Your employees may have very strong feelings on the subject. Some people may choose not to take a vaccine, so an employer-mandated vaccination requirement will likely encounter significant pushback. For employers, reaching a decision on a vaccine policy triggers practical and legal considerations.

  • 8th Circuit explains when salaried employee isn't exempt from overtime pay

    When, and under what circumstances, is a salaried employee considered not "salaried" and therefore not exempt from receiving overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Arkansas and Missouri employers) recently rendered a decision that reviews the question in depth and serves as a primer for interpreting the FLSA's salaried employee exemption.

  • As pandemic continues, NLRB guidance paves way for more mail ballot elections

    Elections for union representation have long been conducted in-person and with manual ballots. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has a strong preference for in-person representation elections. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced the Board to adopt, at least temporarily, a new election procedure using mail ballots. It recently issued a decision providing guidance to regional directors on when mail ballot elections should be held.

  • Employees entitled to FFCRA paid leave, but only when work is available

    Believe it or not, 2020 is nearly over. (Good riddance, right?) While the average Oklahoma workplace continues to look and function differently than ever before, some things never change. One day it may be nearly 70 degrees. None of us will blink an eye if tomorrow's high is 30 degrees cooler. Our weather is unpredictable at best, and the possibility of inclement weather closures will be with us for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. In addition, many workplaces will close for some period during the holidays. At the same time, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise, and our schools are using alternative learning methods and schedules. As a result, an increased number of employees will likely be absent from work for coronavirus-related reasons during the winter months. Here is some information to help you manage the leaves.

  • Another potential COVID-19 casualty: workplace collaboration

    The year 2020 has been a challenging one for our nation and the world. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has faced heightened racial tensions and a deep political divide culminating in a contested presidential election. Emotions have been running high, and fear seems to rule the day. Through it all, our workplaces unfortunately haven't been spared from the turmoil. Millions lost their jobs, and millions of others are working from home, often in physical isolation from their colleagues. If the health crisis doesn't end soon so we can get back together, I worry about the unavoidable loss of collaboration and trust that helped many employers and employees to weather the first round of the outbreak.

  • Promoting workplace diversity: What's legal and what works

    Motivated by a summer of protests as well as a recognition of inequality in their ranks, a number of high-profile corporations recently committed to make their workforces—especially their leadership—more diverse. But those efforts raised red flags after President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) in September that questioned the legality of some of those commitments. Lawsuits aimed at quashing the order soon followed. Even if the order survives court challenges, there's little doubt that as president, Joe Biden will rescind it. But the order, which affected federal employers and private-sector employers that do business with the federal government, left many employers wondering how to best accomplish their diversity goals in a politicized environment.

  • As retaliation claims rise, employers need to be on guard

    A recent report from the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) includes a startling statistic about how often employees say they experience retaliation after reporting instances of sexual harassment. The organization found that 72% of workers who experienced sexual harassment said they also faced retaliation. That should be a warning to employers to make sure managers know the seriousness of retaliation charges and how to avoid them.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Research firm finds change fatigue taking a toll. HR research firm Gartner, Inc., announced at a virtual conference in October that the amount of change the average employee can absorb without becoming fatigued in 2020 has been cut in half compared to 2019. Amid worries about the economy, job security, their health, and the health of their loved ones, employees capacity to take on change in the workplace has plunged significantly. The amount of change employees can absorb without fatiguenegative reactions to change such as burnout, frustration, or apathyhas plummeted at a time when more change is precisely what organizations need in order to reset, Jessica Knight, vice president in the Gartner HR practice, said. Gartner says to help employees absorb change, organizations need to transform how they lead change. Rather than leading change from the top down, progressive organizations have adopted an approach to change management that actively engages employees in all facets of the process.

  • Federal Watch

    Microsoft responds to OFCCP question on diversity initiative. Microsoft announced in a company blog post in October that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) had questioned the computer giant about its commitment announced in June to double the number of black and African-American senior leaders in its U.S. workforce by 2025. Microsoft said a letter from the OFCCP suggested the companys initiative appears to imply that employment action may be taken on the basis of race. The blog post said the OFCCP asked for proof the companys actions arent illegal race-based decisions. Microsoft noted its obligated as a company serving the federal government to continue to increase the diversity of its workforce, and it takes those obligations seriously. One thing remains true of all our programs, the blog post continued. We hire and promote the most qualified person. And nothing we announced in June changes that. Instead, our continued focus is to work hard to consider and develop the broadest range of qualified candidates for opportunities.

  • Supreme Court's 'because of sex' ruling applied to transgender case

    This past June, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County expanded the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee or applicant "because of . . . sex") to include protection from employment discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. The momentous holding fundamentally changed Title VII jurisprudence, and it didn't take long for courts to apply the Bostock holding to other areas of the law, including Title IX.