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Federal Court Blocks Implementation of New Overtime Rules

Late on Tuesday, November 22, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the U.S. Department of Labor (“USDOL”) from implementing and enforcing its new overtime rules. These overtime rules would have raised the minimum salary level for the white collar exemptions (executive, administrative, professional) to $47,476 per year. These rules would have gone into effect on December 1, 2016 had the court not issued the injunction.

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U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Rule on FLSA Overtime Regulations

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor published its long-awaited final rule amending the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) overtime regulations regarding the executive, administrative and professional exemptions (the “FLSA White Collar Exemptions”).  The outside sales and computer professional exemptions are not subject to the new amendments.

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How Safe is Your Employees’ Personal Information? Employers Must Take Immediate Action.

The IRS issued an alert on March 1, 2016 to payroll and HR professionals about a new phishing scheme involving W-2 information. Employers need to take immediate steps to confirm the security of their employees’ personal information.

The alert describes a scheme which has already claimed several victims. Payroll and human resources officers have mistakenly emailed payroll data including W-2 forms that contain social security numbers and other personally identifiable information to cyber criminals who posed as company executives.

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Independent Contractor or Employee? The U.S. Department of LaborWeighs In

In July, the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Administrator issued an Administrative Interpretation (the “Guidance”) clarifying the standards it applies to determine whether a worker is properly classified as an employee or an independent contractor. In so doing – and of particular note to employers – the DOL advised that “most workers are employees” pursuant to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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US Department of Homeland Security Provides Work Authorization for Certain H-4 Spouses

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require a Bachelor’s or higher degree and theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as science, engineering and computer programming. In addition to specialty occupation workers, the H-1B classification applies to individuals performing services related to a Department of Defense cooperative research and development project or coproduction project, and individuals performing services of distinguished merit and ability in the field of fashion modeling. A H-4 visa, on the other hand, is a visa issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the primary H-1B visa holder.

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NLRB Sets Forth New Rule Regarding Employee Use of Company Email During Non-Working Time

In an important 3-2 decision on December 11, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held in Purple Communications that, except in very limited circumstances, Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) requires employers to open their corporate email systems to union organizing by employees and to discussions among employees about the terms and conditions of employment during non-work time. The decision overturns a 2007 decision by the NLRB which held that an employer could ban all non-business email communications, including communications protected by Section 7.

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The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration – Related Unfair Employment Practices issues guidance on employment of F-1 student visa holders.

On April 30, 2014, the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration – Related Unfair Employment Practices (“OSC”) issued a technical assistance letter in response to an inquiry regarding employment of F-1 student visa holders. Specifically, the question was whether or not an employer could decline to consider a job applicant who was in F-1 student visa status with optional practical training (“OPT”). In the scenario presented, the student’s OPT status was set to expire three months after application for employment. Complicating the potential employer’s decision was the fact that the student did not possess the ability to extend employment eligibility beyond the remaining three month authorized period because his academic studies were not in a STEM field; the employer had not enrolled in E-Verify; and the student was not eligible for any other available work authorization status.

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Recently Released Regulations Alter the Affordable Care Act’s Employer Mandate Provisions Yet Again

In February, the United States Treasury Department issued final regulations implementing the employer mandate provisions under the Affordable Care Act. The mandate, which requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer health insurance to their workers or face penalties for non-compliance, were originally planned to take effect at the start of 2014.

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