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March 1, 2019
Full information here: SHRM Legislative Update March 1, 2019
· Salary Threshold – Multiple sources indicate the Department of Labor will raise the salary threshold for workers automatically entitled to overtime to $35,000 a year. The new rule would significantly expand the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. Sources also indicate the DOL plans to announce that it is considering ways to periodically increase the salary threshold based on inflation and other factors. It is anticipated the proposed rule will lay out ideas for periodic updates, but will not propose a specific one. Regulators would like to see the rule finalized before the 2020 election so it will be harder to undo if a Democratic wins the White House. The rule will likely face court battles from both Democrats who support the Obama era proposed salary threshold ($47,000) and small business employers who believe the proposed number is too high. We will keep you updated on developments.
· Pay Bias Legislation – The House Labor Committee on February 26th approved legislation designed to close the gender pay gap, clearing a path for a full chamber vote. The Committee on Education and Labor voted in favor of the Pay Check Fairness Act (H.R.7,S.270) along party lines. This bill would require employers to prove that gender based pay disparities are based on bona fide related factors such as education, training or experience that is consistent with business necessity. The burden would be placed on the employer to prove satisfaction of this standard and many Republicans fear that the bill could significantly restrict employers and potentially increase employment related litigation regarding questions of pay validity. If passed by the House, the bill would face strong opposition in the GOP controlled Senate.
· Discrimination/Retaliation Standard – The “Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act” was reintroduced into Congress earlier this month. This legislation would require a uniform standard for all federal discrimination and retaliation claims (including age discrimination) using a “motivating factor” threshold and not a “but for” standard in ultimately determining whether discrimination or retaliation occurred. Previously versions of this legislation have failed to gain traction throughout the year and have not been passed.
· Arbitration - On February 28th, Democratic lawmakers unveiled the Forced Arbitration and Justice Repeal Act which would bar mandatory arbitration agreements not only in employment disputes, but also for consumer anti-trust and civil rights claims. Additionally, it would block agreements that stop individual workers and businesses from joining or filing class actions. It is estimated by some studies that over 60,000,000 employees in the non-union private sector were covered by mandatory arbitration agreements in 2017.