Thirty-two U.S. states have laws that require employers to give workers time off to vote. These include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The new Minnesota voter leave law reported last week is just the most recent in a long series of state voting laws. That law requires that employers pay the employee for time off to vote, even when the employee has sufficient time to vote during off-duty hours.
Some states with voting laws require unpaid time off on election day to vote. In many cases, 2 hours is deemed sufficient time for the employee to travel to the polling place, vote and return to work, although some states require 3 hours. Some states require unpaid time off only if the employee’s schedule does not otherwise afford him or her sufficient time on election day to vote, while polls are open.
Some states including Alabama and Kentucky also require an employer to give unpaid time off to a worker to serve as an election official.
Employers are required to pay workers for voting time (more…)
A recent ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court opens the door for more litigation by employees in the Volunteer State. This ruling means it will be much easier for an employee to sue an employer for discrimination in state court than in federal court.
On September 20, 2010, Tennessee’s highest court suddenly ruled that a different standard will apply to summary judgments from now on. Summary judgments are often used by employers to nip discrimination suits in the bud. When the employer wins an early summary judgment, the employee’s lawsuit cannot go forward. This is often the first line of defense that an employer has against an employee’s claim of illegal discrimination.
In Gossett v. Tractor Supply Co., the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that an employee had the right to sue the employer for illegal discrimination simply because she was reassigned after filing a complaint of sexual harassment against her supervisor. This was true, no matter how reasonable and justified the employer’s reason for the reassignment was.
This groundbreaking decision authored by Justice Janice Holder overturned the previous ruling in Allen v. McPhee, where a female employee was reassigned after complaining of harassment “to protect her from any further sexual harassment.”
Until now, Tennessee has used the McDonnell Douglas framework for determining summary judgments, the same legal test used by federal courts. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that when an employer (more…)
Employers should be aware that they cannot change a woman’s job duties simply because she is pregnant, even when the job is physically demanding. In fact, an employer cannot routinely require fitness-for-duty exams from women in early pregnancy. A doctor’s note can be required only when the employer has a reason to suspect that the employee is not fit for duty, because the employee has requested an accommodation, taken time off for pregnancy or verbally indicated that she is having problems related to pregnancy.
Now the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a doctor’s note allowing the pregnant employee to return to work trumps the employer’s “common sense” concerns about the safety of the mother and the unborn baby.
Failure to allow a pregnant woman to continue her job duties when she has a release from her doctor is illegal discrimination based on pregnancy. Current medical opinion is that most pregnant women can do anything they did before pregnancy, at least for the first 7 or 8 months.
In Spees v. James Marine Inc., Heather Spees was hired as a welder by James Marine, Inc. Shortly after being hired, Spees became pregnant. Due to Spees’ verbal accounts of complications with previous pregnancies, the employer requested a release from her doctor. Spees saw her doctor and returned with a release specifically stating that she was fit for all her usual duties, (more…)
Minnesota now requires that employees be given paid time off at any time of day to vote. State legislators amended the voting leave statute in 2010, strengthening what was already one of the strongest voting leave laws in the country.
Under the new law, an employee in Minnesota must be allowed to be absent from work at any time of day to vote. This includes allowing time to travel to the polling place, cast a ballot and return to work. The employer must grant this time off even if the employee has sufficient time when polls are open to vote outside work hours.
The previous version of the law required only that the employer allow time off in the morning. Under the newly amended law, the employer may be required to permit sufficient time off at any time of day, including afternoon, evening or night.
In addition, the Minnesota voting law requires that employees be paid to vote. The law specifies that the employee will not be penalized or have wages deducted (more…)
New Health Care Reform FAQs help employers understand coverage of children, out-of-network emergency services, grandfathered plans and other issues under the Health Care Reform law passed earlier this year.
The Frequently Asked Questions on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or PPACA were issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Department of the Treasury, and Health and Human Services.
Beginning September 23, 2010, new and renewed plans must:
Cover dependents up to age 26
Offer preventive (more…)