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IRS Enforcement of ACA Employer Penalties Accelerates

As Published in the June, 2019 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Mon 17th Jun, 2019 By: David E Mitchell


Although the government shutdown that ended in late January 2019 temporarily slowed enforcement of Affordable Care Act employer shared responsibility penalties, the Internal Revenue Service has renewed its efforts to collect those penalties.  The IRS is currently collecting penalties for calendar year 2016 and employers will soon begin receiving notices relating to calendar year 2017.  One public employer recently received an IRS notice asserting that owed over $700,000 in ACA penalties.  

If a Large Employer (50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents, based on a 30 hour per week standard) fails to offer coverage to at least 95% of its full-time employees an...

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As Published in the June, 2019 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Mon 17th Jun, 2019 By: Joshua Hausman


It would be hopelessly anachronistic to begin this update by pointing out that websites and web-based services (such as “apps”) have become the primary mediums by which many of us seek information, order goods and services, or engage with others.  The same holds true for our interactions with local governments.  Whether a person wants to know the date and time of the next council meeting, pay their taxes, or submit a complaint about the noisy neighbors next door, municipalities are increasingly choosing to provide these services over the internet.  When municipal services are offered online, the result is often increased municipal efficiency and improved access for residents.  However, if the...

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As Published in the June, 2019 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Mon 17th Jun, 2019 By: Paul Lalley


The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31 ended fair share fees for public sector unions as unconstitutional.  A group that has supported litigation against public sector unions in Pennsylvania—the Fairness Center—has taken aim at the constitutionality of the maintenance of membership provision in Act 195, in a lawsuit filed on March 27, 2019 in federal court, Wessner v. AFSMCE, Council 13.

As a quick refresher, Act 195 authorizes “maintenance of membership” provisions in collective bargaining agreements.  This means that the public employer and the union that represents the bargaining unit employees can agree that a bargaining-unit employ...

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As Published in the April, 2019 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Thu 2nd May, 2019 By: Hobart Webster


The Medical Marijuana Act (the “Act”) took effect on May 17, 2016, making Pennsylvania the twenty fourth state to legalize medical marijuana.  35 P.S. § 10231.101 et. seq.   Although it’s been almost two years since the law went into effect, employers in Pennsylvania still have more questions than answers. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (the “Department”) is responsible for implementation and administration of the Act, but to date, the Department has only issued temporary regulations and none address employment issues.  There have not been any Pennsylvania court decisions that squarely address the Act’s employment provisions. 
 
While we await imp...

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As Published in the April, 2019 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Thu 2nd May, 2019 By: Julie Aquino


The Federal Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently issued an Opinion Letter, FMLA 2019-1-A, concluding that employers must designate leave as FMLA leave once the employer knows that the leave is FMLA qualifying, rather than allow an employee to first use accrued paid time off. The DOL also concluded in the Opinion Letter that employers may not designate more than 12 weeks as FMLA leave (or 26 weeks of military caregiver leave). While we have typically urged clients to designate qualifying leave as FMLA leave even if the employee is not requesting FMLA leave and to not delay such designation, this is the first time the DOL has opined that employers must indeed make such designation, even if the employee would prefe...

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As Published in the April, 2019 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Thu 2nd May, 2019 By: Ian Everhart


Recent amendments to the Protection From Abuse (“PFA”) Act, and the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act, will soon take effect, imposing stricter requirements on gun owners subject to court ordered PFAs and assigning new responsibilities to law enforcement agencies. Many provisions of Act 79 of 2018 took effect on April 10, 2019 (180 days after the law was signed by Governor Tom Wolf).  For purposes of employment, individuals who are required to carry firearms as a requirement of their job and who are subject to prohibitions of the revised PFA Act may be barred from continuing to work during the terms of a final PFA.
  
Under the previous version of the PFA Act, courts had discretion ...

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As Published in the February, 2019 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Mon 11th Feb, 2019 By: Brad Betack


In a recent decision, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) made it easier for employers to consider certain workers to be independent contractor, and thereby preventing those workers from unionizing or accessing other protections provided by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).
The January 25, 2019 decision, Supershuttle DFW, Inc., overturned Obama-era precedent, which sought to put the primary emphasis on whether workers were “economically dependent” on the organization.  The Obama-era precedent greatly narrowed the number of workers who could be classified as independent contractors, directly resulting in the dramatic increase of the number of individuals eligible to unioniz...

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As Published in the October, 2018 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Tue 9th Oct, 2018 By: Julie Aquino


In September 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) issued an interim rule that updates an important disclosure form under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). Employers must start using the new model disclosure form when taking adverse action against an applicant or employee based on information contained in a background check performed by a third party.

The FCRA applies whenever an employer uses a third party (referred to under the FCRA as a “consumer reporting agency”) to obtain a background check on an applicant or employee. The background check is referred to under the FCRA as a “consumer report”, which includes any information on the applicant’s or...

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As Published in the October, 2018 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Tue 9th Oct, 2018 By: Joshua Hausman

Many employers have adopted wellness programs to incentivize healthy habits on the part of their employees. While the individual benefits to improving one’s health are obvious, employers can also benefit in the form of lower health care costs and a healthier, more productive workforce. Although these wellness programs can take several forms, most offer incentives or rewards to employees who participate in wellness-related activities. Since both employers and employees derive benefits from these activities, a simple question has left some employers feeling ill: am I required to compensate my employees for their time spent participating in our wellness program? Fortunately, the Department of Labor has administered a dose of medicine wh...

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As Published in the August, 2018 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Fri 10th Aug, 2018 By: Julie Aquino

The Third Circuit recently issued a precedential opinion in a sexual harassment case involving a part-time secretary, Sheri Minarsky, who alleged that the Susquehanna County Director of Veterans Affairs, Thomas Yadlosky, made unwanted sexual advances toward her over a span of almost four years. Minarsky and Yadlosky worked alone on Fridays, and she alleged that he would approach her from behind and try to embrace her, as well as try to massage her shoulders and touch her face. She alleged that these advances occurred weekly and were unwanted, and that he also sent explicit emails to her. She alleged other troubling non-sexual conduct, such as questioning her whereabouts during lunchtime and calling her while off duty under the pretense of a...

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As Published in the August, 2018 Issue of the PELRAS Newsletter


Published on: Fri 10th Aug, 2018 By: Brad Betack

Despite federal regulations authorizing the use of “rounding” for purposes of capturing employee time, if not closely monitored, such practices can attract unnecessary legal risk and expensive lawsuits challenging the practice as improper. The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requires employers to pay employees for all time worked. As a result, it is imperative for employees to accurately keep track of employee time. Due to the long-standing difficulty in tracking insubstantial periods of time, such as when an employee clocks in for work a minute or two before or after a scheduled shift, the FLSA has permitted the process of “rounding.” The practice of “rounding” adjusts, for payroll purposes, an employee’s punch time...

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