This was amply illustrated in a recent post on McBride v. the City of Detroit that ruled senior city manager Susan McBride’s chemical sensitivity was a disability under ADA because it interfered with the major life activity of breathing.
The new California guidelines for unpaid interns match the federal guidelines under the FLSA, the Fair Labor Standards Act. Previously, the state of California imposed 5 additional criteria for interns. Employers had to meet all 11 criteria in order for a worker in California to be considered an unpaid intern.
The DLSE announced in an opinion letter issued April 7, 2010 that it will revert to the federal criteria for establishing the status of unpaid intern under California labor laws, including the state minimum wage and overtime laws. The opinion letter was issued to attorney Joseph Ambash in response to his query regarding the educational program Year Up!, a program to (more…)
The Michigan Smoke-Free Law goes into effect on May 1, 2010. Employers need to act now to post “no smoking” signs (including those with the international symbol for no smoking) at entrances. Signs must also be posted on outdoor patios and rooftops if food and beverages are served there.
Employers must also remove ashtrays and any equipment or furnishing that is necessarily used for smoking. Employers and supervisors are required by law to inform any worker who smokes that he or she is in violation of state law and subject to fines and penalties. In addition, employers are required by law to refuse service to any individual customer who is smoking. Under the law, the employer must ask a customer who is smoking to stop. If the customer refuses, the employer must ask him or her to leave the premises.
The act is also referred to as the Ron M. Davis Law, after the former Chief Medical Officer of the Michigan Department of Community Health. It prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants and other public spaces, including most workplaces. Under the law, smoking is banned in malls, bowling alleys, arenas, museums, mechanic shops, health clubs, nursing homes, schools and child care centers. The law also bans smoking in offices, even in private offices in commercial buildings.
The Michigan law bans smoking in places of employment defined as enclosed indoor areas with one or more work areas, for one or more persons. Home offices are exempt if they are used as a primary residence and only one person works there.
Smoking is also prohibited in indoor (more…)
A recent court ruling means that some employers will have to ban perfume, cologne and other scents in the workplace.
In McBride v. City of Detroit, senior city planner Susan McBride was awarded $100,000. In addition, the City of Detroit (the employer) agreed to revise its ADA handbook and training, and to post notices about the fragrance-free policy.
McBride, who suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, complained when a new coworker wore heavy perfume and used a room deodorizer. The coworker agreed to unplug the room deodorizer at McBride’s request, but refused to stop wearing perfume. McBride appealed to her supervisor and the HR department. The city failed to recognize this as an ADA issue and informed McBride that her coworker had a constitutional right to wear perfume to work. They also informed McBride that since she had the allergy, it was her problem, not the employer’s. McBride took time off under FMLA but that failed to resolve the problem when she returned to work.
However, the federal courts disagreed. The court ruled that an allergy to scents can be a disability under ADAAA, the most recent amendment to ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under this law enforced by the EEOC, when an employee has severe symptoms as a result of (more…)
The new Health Reform Law allows employers to offer increased incentives for workers to participate in wellness programs beginning in 2014.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers can also offer incentives to employees for meeting certain health targets, like smoking cessation, weight loss, lower blood pressure or lower cholesterol. These incentives may include the employer picking up an additional 30% of the cost of health insurance coverage. Nationwide, companies on average pay 45% of health insurance premiums, so this could mean that the employer pays 75% or more of the health insurance tab, while the employee pays 20% or less.
In addition, federal agencies have the option of increasing the 30% maximum after conducting a study on wellness programs.
Many small employers have complained that wellness programs are too expensive to implement for fewer than 100 employees. In response, the Healthcare Reform Bill also provides $200 billion to provide grants to small employers to fund new wellness programs.
Many HR experts wonder if this measure will be effective. They note that few companies are even offering the 20% incentive now. The main reason, of course, is expense. While it is great to have healthier employees, paying 20% to 30% more in addition to the employer’s already high costs for healthcare coverage (more…)