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‘Structural Development’ Category


DUA Coverage in South Dakota

Are all employees in South Dakota covered by the DUA?

Many employees and employers in the state of South Dakota are covered by the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program if they have been in a disaster, such as a storm, a flood, or a fire. The program is a federal program, meaning that it could apply to qualifying employers and employees in states across the country, not just in South Dakota.

If there has been a large-scale disaster that has put employees out of work, the DUA program may provide financial assistance to qualifying employees.  This financial assistance could last up to 29 months after the disaster. Not all disasters will be covered by the Act. In fact, in order for a disaster to be covered, the President of the United States needs to declare that the disaster is a federal disaster. Only then can funds be released to provide financial assistance to displaced workers.

If an employee is already receiving unemployment insurance from any state or is eligible to receive unemployment insurance, the DUA program will not provide the individual with financial assistance. Also, the employee needs to meet at least one of the following criteria for coverage by the DUA program;

·         Employees should have been employed at the time of the disaster by an employer that was directly impacted by the disaster

·         The employee should believe that the employment would have continued if it had not been for the disaster

·         If an employee was not actually employed at the time of the disaster, but the employee had a contract that was set to begin, the employee could receive some DUA funding

·         Employees may also receive funding if they have become the head of a household as a direct result of the death of the former head of the household in the disaster. CB


FMLA in Nebraska

Who is covered by the FMLA in Nebraska?

Many employees will be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act I the state of Nebraska. The FMLA is a federal Act, so it can potentially apply to employees in states across the country, as long as those employees meet specific qualifications. The employees also need to work for a company that is covered.

The FMLA is in place in order to ensure that when an employee needs to take time away from work in order to care for their own health care needs or in order to care for the health care needs of a qualifying family member, the employee can do so without losing his or her job. Covered employees can take up to 12 weeks off of work each year if the condition qualifies.

A covered employer is one that has at least 50 employees working within a 75-mile radius of the employee that wishes to take the FMLA time off.

When the employee takes the FMLA time off, the employer should not discriminate against the employee for taking the leave. Also, the employee should be able to return to work at the end of the period of leave to have the same job, salary and benefits.

If an employee wishes to take time, the employee needs to take time for a qualifying condition, such as the following:

·         Both male and female employees can take time off for the birth of a child, to adopt a child, or to take a child in through foster care

·         To care for their own health

·         To care for the health of a spouse

·         To care for a sick or injured child, as long as the child is under the age of 18

·         To care for a sick or injured parent, as long as the employee is over the age of 18 and the parent is a biological parent. CB


JSIA in Vermont

Does the JSIA apply to employers in Vermont?

The Jury Systems Improvement Act does apply to many employers in the state of Vermont. The Act is a federal Act that is in place in order to ensure that when an employee has been called to serve on a jury, the employee can serve without begin discriminated against by the employer for his or her service. Because the Act is a federal Act, it could potentially apply to employers in states across the country.

It is important that employees notify the employers immediately once they receive their jury duty summons so that the employer can make other arrangements. However, the employer cannot coerce or attempt to coerce the employee to forgo jury duty at all. There are some cases where the employee can postpone jury duty for his or her own reasons. For example, if the employee had a planned vacation or an illness, the employee can apply to postpone jury duty. However the postponement must have nothing to do with the employer.

The employer may have to pay up to $1,000 per employee, per instance, if he or she discriminates against an employee for serving on a jury. Also, if the employee is terminated, the employer may have to pay for lost wages and benefits to the employee.

When an employee takes time off of work to serve on a jury, the employee should be able to return to work at the end of the period of jury duty service to have the same job or an equivalent job. The employee should also be able to have the same salary and benefits that she or he had prior to taking time off of work for service.

Employees may be required to provide proof of their jury duty service, such as a copy of the original jury duty summons or a notification from the clerk of the court for each day that the employee served. CB


Overtime Pay Restrictions in Virginia

Our Virginia company has recently received a sizeable contract. Our employees have already been putting in significant overtime hours towards the completion of this project. However, the overtime pay is getting to be taxing for our company. Can we limit the number of hours that our employees can work overtime?

Many companies across the country are in a similar situation to yours: when they receive large projects, their employees have to work extra-hard and extra-long hours to get the project finished. Some employers ask their employees to sign agreements stating that they will not work more than 40 hours per week and that, if they do, the company is not obligated to pay them for their time. However, this sort of agreement and requirement is strictly illegal according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The FLSA is a federal Act that applies to workplaces in states across the country, including your Virginia workplace. The Act is in place to protect the wages and rights of employees around the country, such as the minimum wage. The Act also states that employers are required to pay their workers for the overtime that they put in.

The FLSA applies to all non-exempt companies. Employees that work more than 40 hours per week should receive overtime pay that is equal to time-and-a-half above their regular rate of pay. The right to this overtime pay cannot be signed away if an employer requests it. Some employees publicize that they will prohibit overtime or require employees to get permission before working overtime, however, this method of keeping tabs on the overtime investment that you may is not necessarily legal or effective, according to the FLSA (though there are cases where the courts have gone both ways.)

If you wish to reduce the amount of overtime work that your employees take on, you can take the following measures, which are compliant with the FLSA:

  • If you have a policy that your employees should not work more than their standard 40 hours per week, then make sure that you have taken every possible measure to communicate that policy to your workers. You should publish memos and remind employees of the policy in the handbook and in training meetings.
  • Just because you announce that you will not allow unauthorized overtime work does not mean that you are released from your liability to pay for overtime work if it is performed. It is, however, your responsibility to ensure that your employees do not actually perform overtime work.
  • It is important that you do not punish employees who do not come in early or stay late. If you request a simple 40-hour workweek, then you should praise your employees for sticking to a 40-hour workweek.
  • Regularly audit time sheets and records. You will want to ensure that the hours that your employees report are accurate.  CB

Title VII Basic Information for Workshop

My supervisor told me that I need to learn more about Title VII so that I can speak to some of our managers about it. Can you please tell me some basics that I should know for a short workshop that I will be conducting next week?

Sure. Title VII is a federal document that is in place to protect the rights of employees across the country. As such, Title VII applies to employers in all states. Basically, Title VII is a document that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and job candidates based on their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex (gender). Title VII is overseen and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC.) This commission handles all complaints that are filed against an employer based on the grounds of discrimination.

Not all companies are subject to Title VII requirements. In fact, only those employers that have 15 or more employees working for them for each working day over a period of 20 or more weeks.

When it comes to the specific definitions of what constitutes discrimination, it is important to take a look at each of the different discrimination types differently. It may be especially helpful for you to review these discrimination categories if you are going to be conducting a workshop. Here is a brief definition of each category:

Religious discrimination – this involves discriminating against someone based on his or her religion. Employers may also not discriminate against religious-affiliated garments, unless the discrimination is based on health and safety issues in the workplace.

Sex (gender) discrimination – this involves discriminating against an employee based on his or her gender, and may be related to issues related to pregnancy discrimination or sexual harassment issues. Pregnancy discrimination is prohibited by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Race discrimination – this is discrimination based on someone’s skin color or even national origin in some cases.

National origin discrimination – you may not discriminate against someone based on their ethnicity, physical, linguistic, or cultural traits as they relate to a particular ethnic group.  

Keep in mind that as an employer, you may not discriminate by:

Refusing to hire an employee for sex, race, national origin or other covered characteristics

Terminating an employee based on his or her sex, race, national origin or other covered characteristics

Basing an employee’s wage or compensation on his or her race, sex, national origin or other covered characteristics     CB

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