Movement on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act? On Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services held a hearing entitled “Long Overdue: Exploring the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694)”; testimony linked (Nadler, Durham, Wilbur, McLaughlin, Bakst). Seyfarth partner Ellen McLaughlin, testified discussing current protections for pregnant workers under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act, and (gently) pointing out interpretive problems with the legislation, most notably that its definition of covered “known limitations" appears much broader than the ADA and is of uncertain scope, and that the requirement that an employee needs to be able to perform the “essential functions” of the job to be reasonably accommodated does not seem to be included in the bill. There appears to be a real effort to reach a compromise on this legislation. Notably, the number of cosponsors on H.R. 2694 has skyrocketed over the last week. Stay tuned for likely markup in Committee and House floor consideration. This is one to watch.
Future of Work. On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a joint hearing entitled “The Future of Work: Preserving Worker Protections in the Modern Economy”; testimony linked (Weil, Rogers, Greszler, Beck). While the forum could have been an opportunity to truly drill down in to the issues surrounding the employee/independent contractor/independent worker debate — what are the problems and what are possible solutions — the discussion largely devolved into the standard claims that employers are illegally misclassifying individuals as independent contractors when they are truly employees, and that two solutions are increased enforcement and enactment of the PRO Act (H.R. 2474, approved by the Committee on September 25) to promote unionization. The Heritage witness, Rachel Greszler, did provide another perspective. There is a long way between the lip and the cup on this debate….
Bipartisan Proposal to Limit Non-Competes. Sen. Young (R-IN) and Sen. Murphy (D-CT) introduced the Workforce Mobility Act (S. 2614), which effectively would narrow the circumstances under which non-complete agreements could be used to the dissolution of a partnership or the sale of a business. The bill states that protections for trade secrets would remain in place. Both government enforcement and a private right of action would be used to ensure compliance. The current effort is part of a larger push to limit the use of non-compete agreements. For more on the state-level push, check out Seyfarth’s Trading Secrets blog here and here.
DOL Proposes Electronic Disclosure for Retirement Plans. The Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration has proposed to create a safe harbor for benefits plans to provide online retirement plan disclosures. The proposal would allow plan administrators — under specified conditions — to provide participants and beneficiaries with notice that certain disclosures will be made available on a website. Individuals who would rather continue to receive paper may request paper copies and opt out of electronic delivery. The comment period runs through November 22.
Michigan to Increase Salary Threshold for Exemption. Believing that the impending increase of the FLSA’s salary threshold to $35,568 is not enough, Michigan Gov. Whitmer announced that the state would begin the process of increasing the state law requirements for exemption. No specific figure was discussed, but news reports state that the Governor indicated a salary “in the ballpark” of $61,000. It is expected that the process of increasing the level will take up to a year to complete.