Labor & Employment Essentials

Labor and employment law blog

Employment Essentials is written by attorneys and other professionals at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC. To read about the regular authors who contribute to the Employment Essentials blog, click here.

You probably already know that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) generally requires an employer to restore an employee to his or her previous position of employment upon returning from military duty. But you may not be familiar with an employer’s obligations to an employee during the time that employee is away on military leave. In particular, what are your obligations as far as health benefits offered to employees? Generally speaking, an…
Looking for the perfect gift for your employees this holiday season? Consider giving the gift of feedback (although turkeys and bonuses are certainly good, too!). An overwhelming amount of information has been published on the benefits of feedback in the workplace in recent years. Studies consistently show that employees crave more, real-time feedback and have become dissatisfied with the traditional annual review process. What is feedback? Feedback is critical information about expectations, performance, projects and…
This time of year, gift-givers may feel rich in spirit but otherwise penniless. They may ask whether they can receive a hardship distribution from their 401(k) account when faced with a not-so-holly or jolly bank statement at the end of December. Those of us who work with 401(k) plans know, however, that it takes more than a large credit card bill to justify a participant’s request for a hardship distribution. Generally, the federal tax code…
Under the National Labor Relations Act, the National Labor Relations Board (the Board) has jurisdiction over the process by which employees decide whether to select union representation for their workplace. The Board will get involved in response to a petition filed by an employer or union requesting it to conduct a secret ballot election in which the employees vote for or against representation by a particular union. To encourage stability in labor relations and to…
On November 6, 2018, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido, 2018 WL 5794639 (2018), and held that state and local governments of any size are covered under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.  Therefore, states and their political subdivisions are covered by the ADEA regardless of whether they have twenty employees. In this case, two former employees of the…
The annual flu season is upon us, and once again, employers with mandatory flu vaccine programs are wrestling with the prospect of complex employment litigation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) estimates that annual influenza-related deaths can be in the thousands, if not tens of thousands. The CDC estimates between 9.2 million and 35.6 million flu-related illnesses each year in the United States.  The flu season is actually an “annual epidemic,” according to…
As a result of numerous security issues in this day and age, employers are looking into new technological ways to counteract security risks. One such way is the use of various types of employee biometric data to confirm the identity of an individual before giving him access to the physical or intellectual property of the employer. The obvious advantages to employers are that this data is unique to the known/approved individual and may not be…
It’s natural that you do not want employees operating equipment or engaging in potentially hazardous work while they are under the influence of drugs or medications. While many employers with safety-sensitive jobs have a zero-tolerance policy and test for illegal drugs, you may be worried about the effect a legitimately-prescribed medication may have on an employee’s ability to work safely. Many commonly-prescribed medications can cause drowsiness or disorientation as a side effect. So, can you…
Over 30 states and the District of Columbia have legislation providing citizens access to marijuana. Some states have “de-criminalized” the substance while others have legalized it for medicinal or even recreational purposes.  No matter the form, these laws contradict the federal Controlled Substance Act (“CSA”) under which marijuana is categorized as an illegal controlled substance.  The conflict between states’ laws and federal law regarding marijuana presents a confusing crossroad for employers.  The confusion has been…
Employers likely recall the ill-fated federal overtime rule that was proposed during the Obama administration and was struck down last year. Even though the changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime salary threshold never came to fruition at the federal level, Pennsylvania employers should be prepared for possible changes at the state level.  The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has proposed regulatory changes to the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act that could go into…