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Workplace Compliance News & Resources

Get the latest safety and workplace compliance news and resources from the federal, state, and local government levels. Below you’ll find late-breaking news, an interactive state map, the latest federal news, and minimum wage changes.

We try to keep it easy to understand and give you some general considerations on what to do, but we always recommend that businesses seek legal counsel for further advice and guidance on your particular situation.

Wherever available, KPA products are updated with the latest government notices and posters for employers.

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Latest Federal Workplace Compliance News

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Favors Viking River Arbitration of Individual PAGA Claims in California

Who: California employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On June 15, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling on Viking River Cruises v. Moriana, a case that involved an employee suing in state court under California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) on behalf of herself and other employees for alleged wage and hour law violations. The Court held that California employers can enforce arbitration agreements to the extent that they require employees to arbitrate individual claims under PAGA and that once the employee’s individual claims are compelled into arbitration, that employee does not have standing to bring a representative claim under PAGA on behalf of other employees.

Generally, PAGA allows employees to bring suit to recover penalties as a proxy for the state of California (75% of penalties recovered go to the state and 25% go to the employees). PAGA actions can be brought on behalf of the employee and on behalf of other aggrieved current or former employees.

In Viking River Cruises, Moriana sued her former employer on behalf of herself and other employees under PAGA. Prior to that, Moriana had signed an arbitration agreement that contained a “class action waiver.” Her former employer moved to compel arbitration of her PAGA claims. The trial court denied this motion and the California Court of Appeal affirmed this decision based on a prior case, Iskanian v. CLS Transportation of Los Angeles, where the California Supreme Court held that arbitration agreements containing waivers of the right to bring a PAGA representative action were unenforceable.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeal, holding that the rule preventing the division of PAGA claims into individual and non-individual claims is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Accordingly, the Court held that Moriana should have been forced to arbitration her individual PAGA claims, and that once Moriana’s individual claims are sent to arbitration, she is unable to bring non-individual PAGA claims on behalf of other employees.

How:

  • Work with legal counsel to bring your arbitration agreements in line with the ruling.
  • Monitor whether the California legislature amends PAGA in light of the Viking River Cruises ruling.
  • Monitor current litigation related to AB 51 that could result in the disallowance of mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.

Additional Resources:

Viking River Cruises Inc. v. Moriana Ruling

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

Who: All employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the matter of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. With this decision, the court upheld Mississippi’s legal restrictions on abortion and overturned Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992). The ruling states that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion and returned authority to govern the matter to individual states.

States may now pass laws that restrict abortion rights and criminalize the act of assisting individuals who seek an abortion. Some states have existing laws in place that ban some forms of abortion—laws that became or will become effective because federal authority over abortion was removed.

Employers need to be aware of the state laws they must abide by in relation to:

  • Assisting employees who are seeking an abortion;
  • Covering abortions under group health plans;
  • Covering abortion-related travel expenses to a jurisdiction where abortion is legal;
  • Granting leave in the case of abortion; and
  • Applying provisions of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Group health plan benefits are tax-free to the extent that the medical care meets the requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 213. The care does not need to be medically necessary, but it must be legal. Therefore, in some states, the care would have to be medically necessary to be covered as a tax-free benefit.

Fully insured medical plans must abide by state insurance laws. Self-funded plans are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which generally preempts state law. Litigation will likely ensue to determine the viability of the federal preemption over state laws related to abortion.

Employers should be aware that under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, they may not take adverse employment action against an employee for having or considering an abortion, nor for the employee’s decision not to have an abortion. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees may be eligible to take protected leave for abortion-related care if their healthcare provider determines that they have a qualifying serious health condition.

How:

  • Consult with legal counsel to determine the interplay of the federal, state, and local employment laws that could affect your employees.
  • Review your health care benefits and leave policies; revise as needed.
  • Monitor for developments in related legislation in the states where you operate.

Additional Resources:

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey

Roe v. Wade

Due August 29: OSHA Seeking Comments on Proposed Rule for Lead Exposure in General Industry, Construction

Who: General Industry and Construction employers

When: Public Comments due August 29

What: In the June 28 edition of the Federal Register, OSHA announced it is seeking comments on blood lead levels that would require the medical removal from work and returning to work. The agency is also looking for input on:

  • Medical surveillance, like triggers and blood lead monitoring frequency
  • Exposure limits
  • Other provisions including PPE, housekeeping, hygiene, and training

Currently, OSHA’s rules state that medical removal from work must occur when blood lead levels are 60 micrograms/deciliter or more for general industry and 50 micrograms/deciliter or more for construction. In order to return to work, the individual must have a blood lead level of less than 40 microgram/deciliter.

Comments can be submitted on regulations.gov.

KPA will continue to monitor this issue and provide updates and recommendations accordingly.

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

Who: All employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the matter of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. With this decision, the court upheld Mississippi’s legal restrictions on abortion and overturned Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992). The ruling states that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion and returned authority to govern the matter to individual states.

States may now pass laws that restrict abortion rights and criminalize the act of assisting individuals who seek an abortion. Some states have existing laws in place that ban some forms of abortion—laws that became or will become effective because federal authority over abortion was removed.

Employers need to be aware of the state laws they must abide by in relation to:

  • Assisting employees who are seeking an abortion;
  • Covering abortions under group health plans;
  • Covering abortion-related travel expenses to a jurisdiction where abortion is legal;
  • Granting leave in the case of abortion; and
  • Applying provisions of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Group health plan benefits are tax-free to the extent that the medical care meets the requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 213. The care does not need to be medically necessary, but it must be legal. Therefore, in some states, the care would have to be medically necessary to be covered as a tax-free benefit.

Fully insured medical plans must abide by state insurance laws. Self-funded plans are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which generally preempts state law. Litigation will likely ensue to determine the viability of the federal preemption over state laws related to abortion.

Employers should be aware that under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, they may not take adverse employment action against an employee for having or considering an abortion, nor for the employee’s decision not to have an abortion. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees may be eligible to take protected leave for abortion-related care if their healthcare provider determines that they have a qualifying serious health condition.

How:

  • Consult with legal counsel to determine the interplay of the federal, state, and local employment laws that could affect your employees.
  • Review your health care benefits and leave policies; revise as needed.
  • Monitor for developments in related legislation in the states where you operate.

Additional Resources:

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey

Roe v. Wade

PCORI Fee Due by August 1, 2022

Who: Employers with self-insured health insurance plans

When: Due August 1, 2022

What: Internal Revenue Code Sections 4375 and 4376 impose fees on issuers or sponsors of self-insured health insurance plan. The fees fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The fee for policy years and plan years that end on or after October 1, 2021, and before October 1, 2022, is $2.79 per covered life, calculated based on the average number of lives covered under the policy or plan. For plan years ending on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2021, the fee is $2.66 per covered life.

Employers must submit the fee to the IRS annually, along with Form 720, the Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return.

How:

  • Submit the fee and Form 720 to the IRS by August 1, 2022.

Additional Resources:

Form 720 Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return

Form 720 Instructions

IRS Notice 2022-04

2022 Minimum Wage Updates

KPA tracks state and local minimum wage changes for our Vera HR customers, providing them with updated labor posters and more.

Check out the latest minimum wage changes for 2022, typically updated in December and June to ensure you know about the majority of increases before taking effect on January 1 and July 1.

Resources for Success

OSHA Reporting Resource Hub

If regulatory paperwork makes your head spin, have no fear—the workforce safety and compliance professionals at KPA are here to help.

We’ve created this resource hub chock full of OSHA recordkeeping and reporting best practices to help keep your head on straight.

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