Archive for the ‘Legislation Links’ Category

New Rules Protect Employees With Cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

"employee credit check, employee background check"The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued revised rules designed to protect employees and applicants with certain diseases or conditions.

Under the law, employers are forbidden from treating an applicant or employee less favorably because he or she has a history of disability (such as cancer that is in remission), or is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory and minor. In addition, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation to job applicants or employees with disabilities, unless it would cause undue hardship.

Harassment of applicants or employees who have or have had a disability is also illegal. Harassment is deemed illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it causes a hostile or offensive work environment, or results in an adverse employment decision (firing or demotion, for example).

Recently, the EEOC issued revised documents updating the requirements of anti-discrimination laws. The updates cover how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and intellectual disabilities.

The new guidelines take into account the nearly 34 million Americans with epilepsy, diabetes and cancer, and the two million with intellectual disabilities. Many of these Americans are in the workplace, or trying to enter the workplace.

The documents contain changes to the definition of “disability” to make it easier to conclude that people with these diseases and conditions are protected by the ADA. In addition, the documents answer typical employer questions, such as what types of accommodations they must make, how to handle safety issues and whether the employer is allowed to ask employees and applicants about medical issues.
From the EEOC website, the following is a definition of disability:

A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:

  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning).
  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).
  • A person may be disabled if he is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).

Federal “Ban the Box” Background Check Prohibition Introduced

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

pre-employment screening, criminal background check, employee screening, credit checkThis summer, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit an employer from inquiring whether an applicant for employment has been convicted of a criminal offense. The federal “Ban the Box Act” allows for two exemptions: when a conditional offer of employment has been made or if granting employment could pose unreasonable safety risks to specific individuals or the general public.

If the bill passes, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) would be required to issue rules and guidelines for employers to follow. They would define the categories in which an applicant’s criminal history would pose such a safety risk, and the factors to consider when making the determination that hiring an individual poses unreasonable risks.

The bill’s sponsor is Representative Hansen Clarke (D-MI), who has said the goal is to curtail recidivism, since individuals with criminal histories who cannot get jobs are more likely to commit additional crimes. Co-sponsors of the bill are John Conyers, Bobby Rush, Charles Rangel, Frederica Wilson and Keith Ellison.

According to GovTrack.us, a website that provides information on pending legislation and members of Congress, the bill is currently is in Committee, awaiting a report. The site’s prognosis is that the bill as a 2% chance of being enacted, mostly because just 4% of all House bills in 2009 – 2010 were enacted.

“The Box” refers to the area on an employment application where applicants are required to check a box if they have been convicted of a crime. Many states and municipalities across the U.S. have enacted such bans for themselves and employers of certain sizes. Some prohibit criminal background checks and employment screening until a conditional employment offer has been issued. Others allow criminal history checks if a conviction is related to the position.

Employers should check the laws in their localities, and utilize only a professional, trusted background check provider such as CriminalData.com.

FMLA Overview

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The Family and Medical Leave Act became effective in August, 1993 and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division. We hear from employers who are not sure whether or not they are covered by the FMLA. It can be a confusing set of rules to decipher. Here are the basic tenants of the FMLA:

  • The FMLA covers most employers—but not most small businesses. Only private employers with 50 or more employees in 20 or more weeks in the previous calendar year must abide by the FMLA.  The act also applies to all state and federal government employers, local governments and education employers.
  • The FMLA allows for up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for qualified employees in a 12-month period. In essence, the FMLA protects those workers’ jobs. While employers are not required to pay employees during the twelve weeks of leave, they cannot fire or lay them off because of a family or medical issue that is specified in the Act.
  • Qualified employees are defined as those who have worked for a covered employer for a total of 12 months, with at least 1,250 hours worked in the preceding 12 months.
  • Employers must restore employees back from FMLA to either their former position or an equivalent, and they must maintain any group health insurance benefits while the employee is out on FMLA.
  • The FMLA’s covered family and medical conditions include a serious health problem requiring the employee to take medical leave; the birth and care of a newborn child; the adoption of a son or daughter; caring for an immediate family member with a serious health problem; and needs arising due to a family member’s call to duty through National Guard.
  • Employees who are spouses and share in the birth or adoption of a child or the care of a family member together may only take a combined twelve weeks in a 12-month period.
  • Employees who wish to use FMLA must provide the employer with a 30-day notice prior if possible. They must also provide the employer sufficient information to determine whether the FMLA applies to the employee’s situation.
The best pre-employment screening process includes employee background checks, employee credit checks, and criminal background checks. You’ll know you’re hiring safe when you screen employees before offering a position.

Legislation Keeps Employers on Their Toes

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

gavel on employee screening blogLegislation is a constantly changing reality for all of us who drive cars, buy and sell property, own a dog, talk on our cell phones, walk down the street, or just inhabit a city, town, county, or any other municipality in the U.S. Laws are something we don’t think about constantly—unless we’re planning to break some.

For employers, legislation is something you must keep up with, or you can really get in trouble. Today we’ll review two laws covering employees that you should already know about, along some new laws that are pending or have passed recently.

First, the newbies:
Lilly Ledbetter: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is a result of the namesake’s pay discrimination lawsuit against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court heard arguments about a requirement, established by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that equal-pay discrimination be addressed within a 180-day statute of limitations. The Court ruled it commenced from the day the pay was agreed upon, not the latest paycheck, overturning a lower court’s decision.

The new law amends the CRA to reset the 180-day statute of limitations to begin with every discriminatory paycheck.

Employee Freedom of Choice Act: This is pending legislation in the U.S. Congress, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to make it easier for employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations. EFCA removes the secret ballot requirement that currently exists if employees want to form a union, guarantees workers a contract if they form a union, and strengthens penalties against companies who break laws during union organizing campaigns and first contract negotiations.

And the oldie, but goodies:
FMLA: The Family and Medical Leave Act gives qualified employees of certain employers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. During the 12 weeks, the employee’s job and benefits must be protected. FMLA applies to public agencies, public and private schools, and companies of 50 or more employees. Employees must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.

Under FMLA, qualifying reasons for leave include: the birth and care of a newborn child, the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or the employee’s own serious health condition. Another qualifying reason is in the case of an employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent’s active duty or call to active duty status as a member of the National Guard or Reserves. Plus, eligible employees may request up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to care for an immediate family Armed Forces service member with a serious injury or illness.

ADA: The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and job training. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees. The ADA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to the employee’s disability if it does not impose a hardship on the employer’s business.

In hiring, the ADA prohibits employers from asking job applicants about the existence, nature, or severity of a disability. Applicants may be asked about their ability to perform specific job functions. Medical examinations may be required of an applicant with a disability, but only if the exam is required for all new employees in similar jobs.

That’s the legislative update for now; more to come!

Useful Links

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Text

Read the complete text of the FCRA here:

www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Information

http://www.ada.gov/