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The Unicameral is on recess until Monday, April 10th. When they return there will be 28 legislative days remaining in the 90-day session. I have also provided a few brief developments below on a federal level. The legislative session is scheduled to end on June 2. LB 203 signed by the Governor changes, in some respects, the calculation and payment of unemployment compensation. The following are some other notable changes:
• April 7th the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by a vote of 54 to 45.
• On April 5th the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing examining H.R. 1180, the “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017.” This bill amend the FLSA to permit employers to offer compensatory time off instead of time-and-a half wages for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week. The measure would allow for a voluntary agreement between the employer and worker on comp time and would allow an employee to earn up to 160 hours of time off that can be used at his or her discretion.
• Although it is not a surprise, the USCIS announced this week that it has reached the H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018 – both the regular cap and “master’s” cap • OSHA launched a campaign to prevent falls in the construction industry. You can read more here: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/osha-launches-campaign-prevent-falls-construction-industry
The President signed an Executive Order entitled “Buy American, Hire American” on April 18, 2017. The Order signed at Snap-On Tools in Wisconsin, directs the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Labor and State to crack down on fraud and abuse in the immigration system, across the boarder, to create higher wages and rates of employment for U.S. workers. Some necessary reforms envisioned in the Order will have to be legislative, but others can be accomplished administratively including: Increases in fees for H-1B visa petitions; Changes to the wage scale to institute higher prevailing wage requirements; greater focus on enforcement against gross and egregious law violations; and adjusting the lottery system to give Master’s degree holders priority. You can read more here: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/h-1b-visa-executive-order
On April 12, 2017, OSHA announced that it has cited Atlantic Drain of Boston for willful, repeat and serious and other-than serious violations of workplace safety standards and is proposing 1.4M in penalties for those violations. This is the first OSHA Enforcement Action Press Release since the start of the Trump Administration. You can read more here: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/osha-issues-first-enforcement-action-press-release-start-trump-administration The Department of Labor received a third delay in its appeal of a Judge’s order to the Overtime Rule changes. The delay pushes back the deadline until June 30th for the DOL’s next filing in the case. The delay is, in large part, due to the delay in the Senate confirmation of Alexander Acosta – the President’s second choice to lead the Department of Labor. The Senate is expected to confirm Acosta’s nomination the week of April 24th after lawmakers return from a recess.
An Obama executive order mandating sick leave for federal contractor employees is likely here to stay. The order requires federal contractors to provide paid sick leave and this went into effect more than three months ago. The DOL’s 2016 rule implementing the executive order mandated that companies bidding on service and construction contracts must offer employees at least 56 hours of paid leave per year for a personal illness or to care for a family member. Based on the latest reports from Washington, it appears this executive order is here to stay, at least for now.
The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier today. The vote this morning followed the triggering of the “nuclear option” of the Senate rule change to break a Democratic filibuster. Judge Gorsuch will create a 5-4 majority on the court for Republican appointees and put an end to the 4-4 deadlocks that was created since Justice Scalia’s passing.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled this week that “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination” and unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You can read more here: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/sexual-orientation-discrimination-prohibited-title-vii-federal-appeals-court-finds ·
The Senate voted to repeal a Labor Department rule that allows OSHA to sanction employers for “failing to make and maintain injury and illness records” beyond the six month statute of limitations set out in the Occupational Safety and Health Act. You can read more here: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/senate-votes-repeal-osha-volks-recordkeeping-rule ·
Federal contractors will not be required to report alleged labor violations to federal agencies as part of the bid process or implement measures to foster pay transparency. President Donald Trump signed into law H.J. Resolution 37, which “disapproves” the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council regulations implementing the Executive Order on March 27, 2017. To seal the deal, Trump also signed his own Executive Order revoking the Obama-era Order, known as the “Blacklisting” Executive Order. Trump’s order directs the Department of Labor and other executive agencies to “consider promptly rescinding any orders, rules, regulations, guidance, guidelines, or policies implementing or enforcing the revoked Executive Orders. You can read more here: http://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/trump-signs-legislation-and-issues-order-ending-obama-era-fair-pay-and-safe-workplaces-executive-order
There is a bill in Congress to provide comp time versus overtime pay. The Working Families Flexibility Act introduced by Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.) would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow employers to offer compensatory time off instead of overtime wages for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week. (currently Comp time is only permitted for public employers)