Companies will have to add yet another step in their due diligence when buying or merging with a new company, because of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That law permits employees to sue for wage discrimination, even many years after the fact.
Twenty years after going to work for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, a woman by the name of Lilly Ledbetter learned through an anonymous tipster that she was making less money for doing the same job as her male coworkers.
Lilly Ledbetter calculated that she had lost $200,000 in pay compared to the men, not to mention the lost Social Security benefits and pension funds. Ledbetter sued over the issue, but was blocked by rulings that she had not met the 180-day deadline for filing her petition. She took the matter to the Supreme Court, which upheld lower court rulings in a split decision.
Now, as a way of rectifying situations like hers, the U.S. Senate has passed, and President Obama has signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The new Act allows for discrimination suits beyond the old 180-day deadline. The Senate vote was 61 in favor and 36 against.
This means that employers must retain records on the basis of compensation decisions far longer, to defend against a possible lawsuit.
When a company is bought out by another, the new owners also purchase any liability for discrimination or other unfair labor practices. Prospective owners need to assess the risk of the company’s employee compensation packages and compensation system, before making a final purchase decision.
The President, in signing it one week later, said Ledbetter had not planned to become a household name when she took on Goodyear. “She was just a good hard worker who did her job – and she did it well – for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for doing the very same work,” President Obama said.
He added that he intended (more…)
Essentially, the U.S. Citizenship and immigration Services, the agency in charge, has given employers a several-weeks respite.
Action by the new Presidential administration has helped the cause of those seeking a delay. Numerous employment law and regulatory deadlines put into action by the Bush Administration during its final months were postponed recently. Chief of Staff of the White House, Rahm Emmanuel, put out a memo urging federal agencies to take an additional 60 or 90 days to review all of those policies. The intention was to insure that the policies would be consistent with the standards of President Barack Obama.
COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, permits employees to extend their group health insurance coverage for up to 18 months when they lose coverage due to unemployment, a reduction in hours, divorce, or similar circumstances. COBRA also applies to dependents who lose group health insurance coverage for similar reasons, or due to the employee’s death. Employees who are fired for gross misconduct are not eligible for COBRA coverage.
The big news is that ARRA allows employees to pay just 35% of their usual COBRA premium. It also gives eligible employees a special period to sign up for COBRA coverage. This COBRA premium reduction covers any worker who has lost their job between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009.
Under the COBRA Premium Reduction, the employee can pay just 35% of the usual COBRA premium. The employer pays the remaining 65% of the premium, and then takes a tax credit on the quarterly federal payroll taxes. In this way, the federal government is picking up the tab on 65% of the employees group health insurance premium, and there is no gap in healthcare coverage.
Employees who did not opt to take advantage of COBRA coverage have a second chance (more…)
Employers throughout the U.S. are carefully watching what is happening these days in the District of Columbia.
D.C. has approved a controversial new act known as the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008, which essentially requires employers to provide paid sick leave to their workers. The act may be the harbinger of paid sick leave elsewhere, and has become an important topic among HR professionals.
Employees who would be eligible are those who, first of all, spend at least 50% of their work time in the District of Columbia. They must also have accumulated a year of continuous service and at least 1,000 hours of work in the previous 12 months, under the proposed act.
Good news for HR pros who complain that the COBRA subsidy has placed an unfair burden on employers: the federal government, not employers, will be responsible for enforcing some of the subsidy provisions.
Under the ARRA or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, employees involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 qualify for a 65% subsidy on extended group health insurance.
However, the COBRA subsidy has income limits. Reduced subsidies apply to individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $125,000 or more and couples (filing jointly) with AGI of $250,000 or more. Individuals with adjusted gross incomes over $145,000 and couples with income over $290,000 for the year they receive COBRA (more…)