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EMPLOYERS MUST START USING NEW “FEDERAL CONSUMER RIGHTS ACT” NOTICE

Effective September 21, 2018, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that employers that use a third-party consumer reporting agency, to conduct background checks on employee applicants, use the updated Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  The new Summary of Rights Act was issued on September 12, 2018; employers were given very little time to comply with the act.

The FCRA requires that employers follow certain procedures before obtaining a background check by a third party reporting agency.  The employer must follow certain procedures if it decides not to hire the applicant (or take an adverse action against an employee) based upon a third party background check.  One of the procedures is to provide employees with their “Summary of Consumer Rights” under the FCRA along with the name, address, and phone number of the third-party agency that provided the information.  Failure to provide the correct notification can expose employers to legal risk, including class action litigation.

Employers will have to provide the new “Summary of Consumer Rights” form in any pre-adverse action notification that comes as a result of the background check.  They must also provide this notification before obtaining a background check if the report includes information stemming from personal interviews conducted by a consumer reporting agency.

The new rule requires that employers use the new “Summary of Consumer Rights.” This new model “Summary of Consumer Rights” requires that the rejected applicant be advised of their right to request that the third-party reporting agency provide the rejected applicant with a free “national security freeze.”  This freeze would restrict prospective lenders from obtaining the consumer’s credit report, thereby thwarting identify thieves.  The new model form can be found here.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help ensure your wages and salaries are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  In addition to our PeerMark Salary Survey for over 100 local lodging markets in the U.S. and Canada, we offer a National Benchmark Salary Survey. With over 9,000 hotels and 200 casinos in our database, WageWatch’s hotel and gaming salary surveys are the most comprehensive surveys available to Human Resource professionals.  For more information on our services, including consulting, salary surveys, benefit surveys, and custom compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Guest Editor:  Pautsch, Spognardi & Baiocchi Legal Group LLP
www.psb-attorneys.com

DOCKING EXEMPT EMPLOYEE PAY

The application and rules for the federal FLSA salary basis test are often misunderstood and not administered accurately or consistently.

First, let’s understand what the term “salary basis” means.  An exempt employee that regularly receives a predetermined amount of base salary each workweek is paid on a “salary basis”.  This applies to employees who are determined to be exempt under the federal FLSA exemption tests including both the minimum salary test and qualifying under one of the duties tests (i.e., administrative, executive, professional, outside sales, etc.).  The minimum weekly salary that must be paid to ‘exempt’ employees under the federal rules is $455.  Please refer to your federal and state wage and hour for exceptions to the salary requirements.  In 2018 many states increased the minimum wage and, at the same time increased the minimum weekly salary of ‘exempt’ employees.  The salary basis pay requirement for exempt status does not apply to some jobs (for example, doctors, lawyers, and schoolteachers are exempt even if the employees are paid hourly).

Now let’s talk about the Salary Basis Test.  An employee’s ‘exempt’ status can be jeopardized if the salary basis test rules are not followed.  The Salary Basis test provides rules regarding what pay deductions can and cannot be made to exempt employees’ weekly base salary.  Generally, the predetermined weekly salary cannot be reduced because of variations in the quality or quantity of the employee’s work.  Except for a few permissible deductions, an exempt employee must receive the full base salary for any workweek in which the employee performs any work, regardless of the number of days or hours worked.  This includes any work done remotely such as checking email and voicemail.  An employer cannot make deductions from an employee’s predetermined base salary, because of a business slowdown or lack of available work.

The FLSA salary basis test applies only to reductions in monetary amounts.  Requiring an employee to charge absences from work to leave accruals is not a reduction in “pay,” because the monetary amount of the employee’s paycheck remains the same.

Full Day deductions from pay are permissible when an exempt employee:

  • Is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability
  • For absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability, if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide sick leave or PTO plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness
  • To offset amounts employees receive as jury or witness fees, or for military pay
  • For a partial week worked during the initial or terminal week of employment
  • For weeks in which an exempt employee takes unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act,
  • Deductions in pay are also permitted for intermittent FMLA leave when the weekly base salary is reduced to coincide exactly with the reduced workweek
  • When an exempt performs no work for a full workweek.

For the following two permissible deductions, you should have communicated formal policy(s) detailing disciplinary procedures:

  • For penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance
  • For unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule infractions

It is important that as an employer, you have a clearly communicated policy permitting or prohibiting improper deductions from exempt employees’ base salary including a complaint mechanism and reimbursement to employees when improper deductions are made.  You should also have a clearly communicated policy for your exempt employees stating that under no circumstances should work be performed during unpaid time off.   The exempt status of your employees will be safe as long as you have clearly communicated policies in place, make good faith efforts to comply with the salary basis test and can show that willful violations have not been made.  For full details regarding federal FLSA, visit http://www.wagehour.dol.gov and links to your state labor department can be found at http://www.dol.gov/whd/contacts/state_of.htm.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE – JULY 2018

The U.S. Federal minimum wage has not increased since July 2009, as such, many states, cities, or counties have decided to vote into law, their own increase in the minimum wage.  Some states have decided to gradually increase their minimum wage to $15.00/hour over the course of several years.  While the majority of increases occur at the beginning of the year, others wage increases begin mid-year, starting July 1.

An overview of the states, cities, or counties which have minimum wage increases beginning July 1, 2018 include:

  • California – Not statewide; increases in the following cities:
    • Emeryville
    • Los Angeles City
    • Los Angeles County, Unincorporated
    • Malibu
    • Milpitas
    • San Francisco
    • San Leandro
    • Santa Monica
  • Illinois – Not statewide, two local jurisdictions:
    • Chicago
    • Cook County
  • Maryland – Not statewide; one county:
    • Montgomery County
  • Minnesota – Not statewide:
    • City of Minneapolis
  • Oregon – State law change; varies by area: General, Urban, and Nonurban
  • Washington D.C.

For more detailed information click here:  MINIMUM WAGE CHART.  Review the tab for California to review specific city increases.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

NLRB GENERAL COUNSEL ISSUES GUIDANCE ON LEGALITY OF WORK RULES

(Article written by Charles Pautsch, Attorney at Pautsch Spognardi & Baiocchi; the  firm specializes in labor law; Charles is a guest blogger for WageWatch, Inc.)

As was expected, last week General Counsel Peter Robb issued a GC memorandum providing guidance on the legality of work rules in light of the NLRB’s decision in The Boeing Company.  The Boeing decision overturned the Obama labor board’s decision in Lutheran Heritage Village which prohibited facially neutral work rules which “could” be interpreted as interfering with Section 7 rights, as opposed to “would” be interpreted as interfering with Section 7 rights.  This new standard focusses on balancing the legitimate business justifications of the employer with the negative impact on the employee’s exercise of Section 7 rights.

The Boeing standard creates three categories of work rules.  Category 1 includes rules that are generally lawful because they cannot reasonably be interpreted to interfere with Section 7 rights, or because any potential adverse impact is outweighed by legitimate business reasons.  These rules include a) civility rules; b) no-photography/ no-recording rules; c) insubordination/on-the-job conduct rules; d) disruptive behavior rules; e) confidentiality rules regarding company/customer information; f) anti-defamation/misrepresentation rules; g) rules prohibiting the use of company logos/trademarks; h) rules requiring authorization to speak for the company; and i) rules prohibiting disloyalty, nepotism, and conflicts of interest.   Charges alleging that such rules are facially unlawful should be dismissed, absent withdrawal.

Category 2 rules are not clearly lawful or unlawful, and require case-by-case scrutiny.  Legality of the rule will depend on the factual context.  Examples of such rules include broad conflict of interest rules focused on “employer” or “employee” information, and that do  not target fraud or self-enrichment, or customer or proprietary information; rules that prohibit disparagement or criticism of the employer, as opposed to rules requiring civility or prohibiting disparagement of employees; rules regulating use of the employer’s name, as opposed to trademarks; rules prohibiting speaking to third parties or the media, as opposed to speaking on behalf of the employer; rules banning off-duty as opposed to on-duty conduct; and rules prohibiting false or inaccurate statements, as opposed to defamatory statements.  Category 3 rules are generally unlawful.  These rules require confidentiality or prohibit discussion of employee wages, terms, and conditions of employment; prohibiting joining outside or third-party organizations, or prohibit voting on matters related to the employer.

Contact PSB(414-223-5743)  if you have questions about this guidance and how it affects your current work rules, and any revisions you are contemplating in your annual review of your employee handbook; offices in Cave Creek and Phoenix.   

 

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on June 13th, 2018 · Comments Off on NLRB GENERAL COUNSEL ISSUES GUIDANCE ON LEGALITY OF WORK RULES

FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA) AND JOINT EMPLOYMENT

Joint employment exists when an employee is employed by two or more employers who both benefit from the employee’s work and are sufficiently related or associated with each other.  The analysis for determining joint employment under the FMLA is the same as under the FLSA.

Joint employment can exist when employers have the arrangement to share the employee’s services or when one employer acts in the interest of the other in relation to the employee.  Joint employment is based largely on the degree of association between the employers and how the employers may jointly control the employee.

Factors key to determine joint employment include:

  1. Do the employers have any overlapping management or share control over operations?
  2. Is supervisory authority over the employee shared and/or do they share clients or customers?

According to the Department of Labor’s fact sheet, employees who are jointly employed by two employers must be counted by both employers in determining employer coverage and employee eligibility under the FMLA, regardless of whether the employee is maintained on one or both of the employers’ payrolls.

When joint employment is determined, one employer will be deemed primary and one will be secondary.  The employee’s worksite which the employee is assigned and reports to is the primary employer.  However, if the employee has physically worked for at least one year at a facility of a secondary employer, the employee’s worksite is that location.

Under the FMLA, the primary employer is responsible for following and administering the FMLA for the employee including 1) providing required notices, 2) providing FMLA leave, 3) maintaining group health insurance benefits during the leave, 4) restoring the employee to the same job or an equivalent job upon return from leave, and 5) keeping all records required by the FMLA with respect to primary employees.

The secondary employer, whether an FMLA-covered employer or not, is prohibited from interfering with a jointly employed employee’s exercise of or attempt to exercise his or her FMLA rights or from firing or discriminating against an employee for opposing a practice that is unlawful under the FMLA.  The secondary employer is responsible in certain circumstances for restoring the employee to the same or an equivalent job upon return from FMLA leave and they must keep basic payroll and identify employee data.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help ensure your wages and salaries are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  In addition to our PeerMark  Salary Survey for over 100 local lodging markets in the U.S. and Canada, we offer a National Benchmark Salary Survey. With over 9,000 hotels and 200 casinos in our database, WageWatch’s hotel and gaming salary surveys are the most comprehensive surveys available to Human Resource professionals. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary surveys, benefit surveys, and custom compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR OR EMPLOYEE?

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.  In other words, if you are treating the ‘independent contractor’ like an employee by doing things such as providing work materials and office space, designating working hours, providing training and direction regarding how and when to perform the work, then the ‘independent contractor’ is most likely an employee.  Independent contractor is defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, IRS regulations, and the decisions of some courts.  Many states also have specific independent contractor regulations.  The IRS and many states have adopted common law principles to define an independent contractor. These rules focus primarily on the level of control an employer has over a service or product. For independent contractors, the company can direct or control only the result of the work done, and not the means and methods in getting to the result.

The rules are not always clear-cut to determine the correct status, but generally characteristics of an Independent Contractor include:

  • The work assignment is temporary and typically for a specific project
  • The work assignment is not an integral part of the business and is not something typically done by employees.

The Independent Contractor will:

  • Supply his or her own equipment, materials and tools
  • Pay for their own expenses
  • Control the hours worked
  • Determine how and when to perform the work
  • Retain a degree of control and independence
  • Operate under a business name and has his/her own employees
  • Advertise his/her business’ services and has more than one client

Some courts and federal agencies use an “economic realities test” which looks at the dependence of the worker on the business.  If a large portion of a worker’s salary is from one specific company, this may qualify the as an employee. Other factors considered are level of skill, integral nature of the work, intent of the parties and payment of social security taxes and benefits.

Misclassification of an individual as an independent contractor may have a number of costly legal consequences such as reimbursement of all wages including overtime, taxes and penalties for federal and state income taxes, social security, Medicare and unemployment, providing employee benefits and workers compensation for any injuries.

There is no set number of factors that makes the worker an employee or an independent contractor.  Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.  The best approach is to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control the work, and be sure to document all factors used in your determination process.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

HUMAN RESOURCES ROLE IN MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

Mergers and acquisitions are extremely challenging and even chaotic events.  Therefore, it is critical that everyone involved has a clear understanding of their role in the process.  Mergers and acquisitions have become the norm in the business world and are often necessary for survival.  Almost every major company in the US today has or will experience a major acquisition.  There is a subtle yet distinct difference between a merger and an acquisition.  A merger is when two separate companies merge into one new entity.  An acquisition is when one company buys the assets of another company.  A merger or acquisition can be desired due to many different strategic reasons including positioning in the market, acquiring another company’s areas of strength or expertise, acquiring capital, diversification and short-term growth.  There are several phases or steps in the acquisition process and human resources will typically be involved in at least 2 to 3 of these phases, including the due diligence and investigation process and the post-merger integration process.

The human resource role in the due diligence and investigation process is to perform a thorough review of all human resource contracts, benefit plans, plan documents, systems, personnel, employment records, all forms of compensation, policies and procedures, especially related to human resource regulations that relate to all human resource disciplines including compensation, benefits, recruiting, employee relations, training and development, and payroll and HRIS.  Human Resources will help to determine the organizational structure and staffing models for the new organization.  Some other important items that fall under the Human Resources umbrella are wage and hour or other compliance claims, employment litigations, collective bargaining agreements, any FMLA, OSHA, Workers Compensation, EEOC and OFCCP compliance issues.

Transition issues need to be discovered and addressed, for example, pay levels between the two organizations may be very different and a cost analysis may be needed to determine the cost of bringing pay levels more in line between the two merging entities.  Other transition issues that often need to be addressed are transitioning pay increase and performance review cycles, differences between benefit levels in health care and retirement plans.  Most items will need to be addressed immediately, and some items can be completed during the first or second year following the merger or acquisition.  For example, if the acquisition occurs in the first quarter and your merit increases are done in January, you may be able to wait until the following January for this transition.  Conversely, it will be highly desirable to transition the acquired entity employees immediately to your health and welfare plans rather than take on the administrative burden and ownership risk of additional plans.

Human Resources is also responsible for layoffs, stay bonuses, culture differences, and synergies and will play a key role in the orientation and welcoming of the new employees.  These are just a few key items on the Human Resources Acquisition Checklist.  And each item has its own list of key points and issues that must be addressed.  While most of the transition work will happen prior to the closing date, the job of transitioning employees into your policies, pay models, practices, procedures, and culture does not end at transition date and typically continues for 2 to 3 years following the transition date and requires continued review at the management level.

Change can be challenging and demanding.  With over 5,000 properties in our lodging compensation database, 150 casinos, and 125 hospitals and clinics, we regularly see properties being acquired, divested, and rebranded. Consolidations are occurring at a rapid pace in the healthcare industry as well with hospitals buying physician groups and primary care practices. There are numerous human resources concerns to address every time a property changes hands. WageWatch consultants can guide you through the process of integrating two or more compensation models, rebalancing grades and ranges, examining internal equities between plan documents, developing a market-based approach to resolving inconsistencies, and helping you along the way with all your transition needs.  For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

JOINT EMPLOYER LIABILITY

The use of sub-contractors, temporary staffing, leased employees and independent contractors can provide employers with quick temporary staffing and reduce benefits and payroll costs. However, the employer client can be considered a joint employer with the leasing or temporary agency when they share certain key employment terms such as the ability to hire, fire, or discipline workers, affect their compensation and benefits, and direct and supervise their performance.  When businesses use a temporary agency, leased, or contract workers, though the employer is the temporary help, leasing, or contracting company, the client business may be regarded as a joint employer under some laws.

The Family and Medical Leave Act have specific language regarding joint employer relationships. While the leasing or temporary help agency is the primary employer, the client company may be required to place the worker in the same or comparable position upon his or her return from FMLA leave.  Additionally, leased and temporary workers will count as employees of the client company for the purposes of determining whether a business is subject to the FMLA regulations.

In the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) of 1982, leased and temporary workers are the client’s employees for the purposes of qualifying retirement plans and certain fringe benefits such as life insurance and cafeteria plans (does not apply to health insurance benefits), if the workers have been engaged with the client company on a full-time basis for a minimum of one year and the client company primarily controls or directs their work.

An employer can face a charge of discrimination under Title VII anti-discrimination legislation brought by an individual who worked for the employer under one of these leasing or sub-contractor relationships.

It has also come into question with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) whether leased and temporary workers must be included in collective bargaining agreements that cover the client’s regular employees.

Some states have passed legislation on joint employer liability as it pertains to workers’ compensation regulation.  New York ruled that the client is the common law employer of leased employees and is therefore primarily responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits. To date, there have been no guidelines for joint employer status under OSHA or other health and safety regulations.

Employers need to be aware of and have guidelines regarding the degree of control they have over these temporary, leased and contract workers. The greater the degree of control, the greater the likelihood that the employer could be determined to be a joint employer.

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practices data that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

BUDGET SEASON: ARE YOU PREPARED?

It’s that time of year again when companies are preparing their budgets for the upcoming year.   For HR professionals, it is probably not one of your favorite tasks, but by embracing the process, it can be an opportunity to reinforce the HR function as a strategic partner.

Budgets are used to monitor progress toward goals, help control spending, and predict cash flow and profit.  The challenge is predicting the future 100% accurately and in turn developing effective budgets.

It is valuable for HR to gain a strong understanding and appreciation for the value of good annual budgeting.  In most companies, employee costs constitute the majority of fixed costs and therefore the HR budget contains key and critical elements of the overall company budget.

Here are a few things you can do to make the budget process a smoother one:

  1. Throughout the year, ensure to include the CFO when reviewing such things as pay increases with the CEO.  This can go a long way to developing a partnership with the CFO.
  2. The credibility of the HR function is significantly improved when you can demonstrate real savings and value for HR projects and processes.
  3. Empower your HR team.  Every HR team member should own their line items in the budget.  For example, recruiting is responsible for their search firm fees, recruiting tools, and relocation.
  4. Link the development of your budget to corporate strategy.  This gives a clearer understanding of strategic goals.  And, in turn, should create greater support for the goals, and, a stronger company-wide performance. The key to linking the two is communication.  In order to communicate strategic goals, top management needs information about customers, competitors, technology, etc., and this information must come from support units such as Human Resources.
Budgeting requires the collection of many forms of data. From a human resource   perspective, listed below are some items that would be included in the budget:

Recruiting

  • Advertising & agency fees
  • Employee referral program
  • Background checks / drug testing
  • Recruitment expenses
  • Applicant tracking system costs

Training

  • Training programs
  • Travel expenses
  • Consulting fees

Compensation and Benefits

  • Payroll costs
  • Salaries  & overtime
  • Compensation surveys / benefit surveys
  • Incentive compensation
  • Health and welfare benefits
  • Retirement plan
  • Employee assistance program

Employee and Labor Relations

  • Recognition program  / Service Awards
  • Employee Opinion Survey
  • Performance appraisal software
  • Employment and Labor relations expenses (attorneys, consultants)

Other

  • Strategic planning (data/consultants)
  • HR databases such as HRIS/subscriptions/memberships/books

At WageWatch our compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs and help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives.  WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary surveys that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online .

ANSWERS TO ADA ISSUES QUIZ!

Day in and day out, we at Pautsch Spognardi & Baiochhi Legal Group get more questions about disability discrimination and accommodation than any other law.  Listed below are the questions AND answers!

  1. The Americans with Disabilities Act and state laws providing protections against disability discrimination cover employers with 15 or more employees, and not those with less.

    False: Many states have laws protecting individuals with disabilities working or applying for jobs at companies that employ as few as one (1) employee. Illinois and Wisconsin are among these states.

  2. So long as you treat an employee who is an individual with a disability the same as all other employees you will comply with the requirements of ADA.

    False: It is true that individuals with a disability are entitled to treatment equal to that which you give non-disabled employees.  But, you are also required by ADA to afford these individuals with disabilities reasonable accommodations that allow them to perform essential functions of their job.

  3. ADA and state discrimination laws against disability discrimination require equal treatment between employees with disabilities and those employees that do not have disabilities.

    True:  It is true that this is required.  But as noted in the answer to question #2, more is required—reasonable accommodation.

  4. Depressive disorder is a covered disability under ADA.

    True and False: It all depends on whether the condition of the employee or applicant is such that it meets the definition of a “qualified individual with a disability” under ADAAA or applicable.  In other words, does the physical or mental condition substantially limit the employee or applicant in a major life activity such as walking, seeing, talking, working, etc., or does the employee or applicant have a record of such impairment, or is the employee perceived as having such a condition?  This is often a difficult analysis that must be made based on the individualized circumstances of that individual’s condition.  So, some cases of cancer will be determined to be a disability, and some will not.

  5. An employee who suffers a compound fracture of their tibia and fully recovers from this injury and receives a full release for work in four months’ time is likely covered by ADA due to this condition.

    False: Under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, Congress set six months as the minimum time for coverage as a disability protected by the law.  Beware, however, of terminating an employee based on this premise and law.  It is particularly risky to terminate an employee based on the assumption that the disability won’t last more than six months, when it may.

  6. An employee who suffers an Achilles tear in her left foot and is fully released for a return to work after exactly one year is covered under ADA.

    Probably True: Given the length of time involved, see the answer to question 5 above; it is likely that this condition is covered.

  7. An employee whose only physical limitation on her medical release for work is a 15-pound lifting restriction is not covered by ADA.

    Probably False: If this release is permanent, then almost certainly the employee is covered because this has been held by many courts and agency’s to be a substantial limitation on the major life activity of lifting.

  8. An employee whose only physical limitation on his medical release for work is a 50-pound lifting restriction is not covered by ADA.

    True: Many cases have decided that this sort of condition is not a covered disability because it does not “substantially limit” a major life activity.  In other words, the employee is still a pretty good lifter.

  9. Migraine headaches are not a covered disability under ADA.

    True and False: For all of the same reasons noted above with respect to “cancer”, some cases of migraine headaches are covered, while others are not.

  10. The definition that sets forth the requirements for qualifying as an “individual with a disability under ADA” is essentially the same as that defining a “serious health condition” under the FMLA.

    False:  The two definitions are vastly different.  FMLA’s definition focuses on the need for continuing medical treatment and in-patient hospitalization while ADA’s definition is, as noted above, far more focused on the length and the long-term severity of the condition.

As you can see from these answers, ADA, and the state disability, discrimination laws are difficult laws to interpret and apply to the facts and conditions that occur and are present in your workplace.  The definition of who is a qualified individual with a disability is a particularly knotty one.  The Supreme Court has tackled this definition many times and Congress reversed a number of these decisions in passing the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008.
Pautsch Spognardi & Baiocchi Legal Group, LLP; http://www.psb-attorneys.com/ Office: 414-223-5743