Archive for the ‘Compliance’ Category

Stereotyping and Discriminating Based on Sex and Sexual Orientation, and the Related Federal Laws

Thursday, October 9th, 2014
Robin Shea, Partner at Constangy, Brooks & Smith

Robin Shea, Partner at Constangy, Brooks & Smith

The post below is a guest blog from Robin Shea who serves as Partner for Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP, CAI’s Partner for the 2014 Triad Employment Law Update. This post originally appeared on her blog Employment and Labor Insider.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is dead again. Is there any federal law on same-sex harassment or discrimination? If so, what is it? Here are some scenarios that may be helpful in picking through this crazy extremely complex and rapidly transitioning area of the law. (Answers are provided after Scenario 6, below.)

 

Scenario 1. Joe has a huge crush on John. Joe makes lewd and unwelcome comments to John, and tries to corner him to make sexual advances to him. John has made it clear to Joe that he is not interested, but Joe doesn’t listen.

Under federal law, is there a problem?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 2. Bill interviews Lester for a job. Lester is huge, hairy, and masculine looking. When Bill offers him a job, Lester says he is thrilled but will have to discuss it that evening with his “better half,” Jim. Bill immediately withdraws the offer and hires a less-qualified heterosexual man.

Has Bill violated federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 3. Bill interviews Charlie for a job. Charlie is married (to a woman) and has four kids. However, he’s “thin and neat,” and he speaks with a sibilant “s.” Bill thinks Charlie will catch too much grief from Bill’s “rough” work crew, so he hires a less qualified guy who he thinks is more “manly.”

Has Bill violated federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 4. Mary has short hair, doesn’t wear makeup or nail polish, and she wears “men’s” pants and flat shoes. The women she works with gossip about her behind her back and play mean jokes on her. The female supervisor sees all of this and thinks it’s funny and harmless.

Might the company be liable under federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 5. Anne has long, lustrous, beautiful hair, and is perfectly dressed and made up every day, right down to her shell-pink ruffledy chiffon dress and her seven-inch stiletto heels. One day, Anne tells her boss that she and her partner are planning to adopt a baby. While the boss is ecstatically planning Anne’s baby shower, Anne mentions that her partner’s name is Marie. The boss starts writing Anne up for performance issues (all bogus), and eventually fires her.

Might the company be liable under federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 6. Marsha (formerly Marshall) is a biological male who is going through the gender-reassignment process. Marsha has not had surgery yet, but she’s started hormone treatments and, on the advice of her physician, has begun dressing and living as a woman. Marsha’s supervisor, Staci, fires Marsha for coming to work five minutes late — once — when there was a horrendous accident on the interstate that made everyone else late, too. (No one else is even written up.)

Has Staci put her company in jeopardy under federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 The answers, with no ENDA, and assuming none of these employers are federal contractors, are 1-D, 2-A, 3-D, 4-C, 5-B, and 6-C.

Huh? Seriously?

Crazy Extremely complex and rapidly transitioning, I know! Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex but not sexual orientation. However, Title VII does prohibit discrimination based on sex stereotyping. (Why? Because the Supreme Court said so, that’s why.) So if the discrimination or harassment has something to do with stereotyping — in other words, the individual is being picked on because he doesn’t fit the picture of what a “man” should be, or she doesn’t fit the picture of what a “woman” should be, the individual could have a valid federal claim. As in this case.) On the other hand, if the individual is picked on “only” because he or she is perceived as being gay, then there is no valid federal claim.

Of course, many states and local governments have their own laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation. In addition, in any state, a person who is harassed because of sexual orientation may (depending on the circumstances) have common-law tort claims for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, or false imprisonment, and one who is fired or “forced” to quit could have a claim for wrongful discharge.  So employers should not think that the lack of a federal law means they can act with impunity.

Robin Shea is presenting at the 2014 Triad Employment Law Update on November14th at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro. In addition to sharing information on gender identify and new protected classes,  attorneys from Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP will provide you with the most recent updates in state and federal employment law. Register today at www.capital.org/triadlaw.

 

 

 

Make Time-Off Decisions Together

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer Column, The View from HR.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

What could be wrong with time off from work? Plenty, if you are a manager trying to get things done, or an employee who cannot get time off for family issues.

Time-off problems generate phone calls to our HR advisers every day. Most of the problems come in three categories, each with an employee and employer viewpoint.

Do I have to?

Government regulations mandate time off in several dozen ways. No single requirement is back breaking, but their total weight causes employers to dread these regulated requests. The question often becomes, “Do I have to grant the time?” It depends.

Earned vacation is owed to the employee, and the only question is timing. An employer can deny its use at inconvenient times unless the vacation is to be used during a “family and medical leave” event. These FMLA requests give employees and their doctors so much power over timing that employee abuse is common, paid or unpaid. Even if laws like FMLA do not apply, sick day and personal day policies are common. Plus, everyone has a personal need now and then.

Help employees understand the business issues so that time off can be made to fit business and personal needs. Employees, if you will start out showing concern for business needs and some flexibility on timing, you will find the process is much smoother and more pleasant for all. It is rare that something has to happen on Monday morning, or on the busiest day of the month.

Everybody wants to be met halfway. (Emergencies are different.)

Do I want to?

If time off is discretionary, do you want to say “yes” to the employee for an inconvenient day off?

Managers might say “Yes to my best employees and no to my worst.” You can use some discretion, maybe rearranging work so a star can get a day off, but be sure you can defend that choice when the poor performer seeks the same. “Sally works exceptionally hard each day, and you do not” is what you may feel like saying, but refrain. Describe ways the employee can earn future approvals.

Employees who want time off or certain vacation days in this “discretionary zone” should bring a good plan for getting work done, a record of always doing so, or both. I have never met a manager who liked to say “no” to a personal request if it is reasonable and the employee always meets them halfway.

Should I?

Maybe no law requires it, and maybe the employee does not deserve it based on past behavior, but sometimes it is good business to grant that inconvenient time-off request.

You gain nothing by punishing an employee’s family, for example. Maybe you should have dealt with this poor performer more directly last month rather than indirectly punishing him or her through a time-off denial today.

Time-off conversations require adult behavior and open discussion. Approach your next one with that in mind.

 

Travel Time and the FLSA

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

In today’s video blog, George Ports, CAI’s Senior Executive of government relations and member of the Advice and Resolution team, shares helpful information for understanding the tricky subject of calculating compensable travel time.

George starts by saying some of the most confusing wage and hour regulations are those dealing with travel time for non-exempt employees. The question usually asked is, “is it or isn’t it compensable?” This confusion is due in part to the number of different situations involving travel.

George lists several scenarios that demonstrate a compensable travel time situation. For example, he says travel time to or from work is not compensable, but time that cuts across an employee’s regular work day is. He gives more examples in the video.

The video also includes information relevant with today’s technology-driven workplace. George shares the following information in the video: If an employee gets in his vehicle and receives special instructions on his cell phone or laptop before leaving home that time is compensable.

If you have questions about travel time or any other wage and hour regulation, please call CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Is the EEOC Way off with this new “wellness” lawsuit? Not Really.

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

The post below is a guest blog from Robin Shea who serves as Partner for Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP, CAI’s Partner for the 2014 Triad Employment Law Update. This post originally appeared on her blog Employment and Labor Insider.

Robin Shea, Partner at Constangy, Brooks & Smith

Robin Shea, Partner at Constangy, Brooks & Smith

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit against Wisconsin-based Orion Energy Systems, Inc., over its wellness program and its treatment of ex-employee Wendy Schobert, who was not a fan of the program. The lawsuit contends that the program’s health risk assessment is an unlawful “medical examination” and that the company retaliated against Ms. Schobert for failing to have a positive attitude about it. Both the medical examination and the retaliation, says the EEOC, violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on this wellness/ADA issue — as I have here, here, here, and here — you know that the EEOC has not been as forthcoming with guidance as we’d ideally like, although in May it promised that we’d be getting something soon. That having been said, if the EEOC’s allegations in this lawsuit are correct,* then Orion may have a problem.

*All we have now is the lawsuit and the EEOC’s press release. We have not heard Orion’s side of the story.

According to the lawsuit, participants in Orion’s wellness program had to use a range-of-motion machine, provide their medical histories, and have blood work done. As we discussed last week, the ADA says that this kind of information can be requested of current employees only if it is “job-related and consistent with business necessity” or if the information is requested in connection with a voluntary wellness program.

Because Orion obtained the information for “preventive” reasons, it was not JRACWBN (Job-Related and Consistent With Business Necessity) in the least. But it was clearly obtained in connection with a wellness program.

And Orion’s wellness program was “voluntary” . . . technically speaking. Employees didn’t really have to participate — as long as they were willing to pay 100 percent of their health insurance premiums out of pocket. If an employee participated in the program, the company paid 100 percent of the premiums. If an employee did not participate, the company paid zero percent of the premiums. The EEOC says that the cost of health insurance premiums at the times relevant to the lawsuit was $413.43 a month for individual coverage and a whopping $744.16 a month for family coverage. And on top of that, Orion assessed a $50 a month penalty to non-participating employees.

So, yeah, you could decline to participate if you were Donald Trump. But most people presumably went with the program because they couldn’t afford not to. And that is why the EEOC says Orion violated the ADA’s “medical examination” provisions — it was asking for medical information that was not JRACWBN, and even though the information was obtained in connection with a wellness program, the program wasn’t truly “voluntary” because of these draconian penalties.

The “retaliation” part of the lawsuit is more routine. Ms. Schobert didn’t like the wellness program, and she not only refused to participate, but she also allegedly tried to get other employees to resist, I’m guessing like the Penn State wellness debacle that got so much publicity last year. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, HR called her in and asked her to adjust her attitude. When she didn’t, they fired her.

This Orion suit will be one to watch, and employers should be looking forward to getting some concrete preventive guidance from the EEOC about wellness programs and the ADA — particularly the “voluntariness” issue. My ultra-conservative view has been that rewards are probably all right, but that penalties are dangerous. And an employee can always argue that an employer’s refusal to give a non-participant a “reward” is, in effect, a “penalty” for non-participation. Especially when we’re talking about monthly health insurance premiums of $400-700 a month.

It appears that I am not the only one on the employers’ side who is wary about aggressive wellness programs and the ADA.

Finally, it’s worth keeping in mind that Ms. Schobert was terminated in 2009, and so the Affordable Care Act was not at issue. The ACA wellness provisions do not address the issue of voluntariness. But they do specifically authorize employers to grant significant economic “rewards” to employees who achieve results (for example, by reducing their Body Mass Index) in so-called “health-contingent” wellness plans.

All the more reason that employers need help from the EEOC in knowing the agency’s position on the interplay of the ADA wellness restrictions (as well as those that apply under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) and the ACA.

Robin Shea is presenting at the 2014 Triad Employment Law Update on November14th at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro. In addition to receiving information on new decisions from the EEOC and DOL, attorneys from Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP will provide you with the most recent updates in state and federal employment law. Register today at www.capital.org/triadlaw.

Q&A: 6 Things You Should Know About Affirmative Action Plans

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

CAI’s Manager for Affirmative Action Services, Kaleigh Ferraro, shares information on affirmative action plans from the OFCCP. Make sure you are compliant.

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

If your organization provides goods or services to the federal government either directly or indirectly, you may be subject to affirmative action regulations.  Just in 2014, regulation changes regarding affirmative action programs for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities became effective.  President Obama has also signed several Executive Orders affecting federal contractors.  Is your organization in compliance with these recent and proposed changes?

Q: Are you covered as an affirmative action employer?

A: If you have federal contractors or subcontracts of at least $10,000, you are covered under the affirmative action regulations.

 

Q: What are the affirmative action requirements?

A: One of the main requirements is to annually develop written affirmative action plans if you have federal contracts/subcontracts of $50,000 or more and 50 or more employees. There are a number of other requirements as well.

 

Q: What is the impact of the changes to organizations regarding protected veterans and individuals with disabilities?

A: Some of the major changes that became effective in 2014 require setting hiring benchmarks for veterans and utilization goals for individuals with disabilities.  They also require federal contractors to solicit self-identification of applicants for veteran and disability statuses prior to job offer.

 

Q: What type of data is needed to develop an affirmative action plan?

A: In order to develop an annual affirmative action plan, you will need a current listing of employees.  This employee listing will be used to determine if Placement Goals must be established for women and minorities.  This listing will also be used to determine if utilization goals for individuals with disabilities are met.  Contractors must also review employment decisions for hires, promotions and terminations for the 12 months prior to the employee listing.

 

Q: What is required of affirmative action employers other than the written affirmative action plan?

A: There are a number of additional requirements beyond an affirmative action plan.  These requirements include the following: record keeping requirements, tracking applicant data, annually filing EEO-1/VETS-100A reports, notifying subcontractors & vendors of obligations, specific language in covered purchase orders & subcontracts, listing jobs with state employment service delivery systems, outreach and recruitment efforts, etc.  CAI can provide additional information regarding these and other requirements.

 

Q: What are the recently signed Executive Orders and proposed regulation changes?

A: President Obama has signed several Executive Orders in 2014 that may lead to changes for federal contractors and subcontractors.  They include, establishing higher minimum wages for federal contractors, expanding affirmative action requirements to include gender identity and sexual orientation as protected groups, protect workers from retaliation when discussing pay with other employees.  The OFCCP also issued proposed regulations that would require contractors to submit compensation information annually in an expanded Employer Information Report EEO-1

CAI has a team dedicated to affirmative action and can assist with affirmative action questions.  Please contact Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager of Affirmative Action Services directly at 919-713-5241 or kaleigh.ferraro@capital.org  for additional information or other affirmative action questions.

 

Wage and Hour Issues: Allowed Deductions From an Exempt Employee’s Salary

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Senior Executive of Government Relations and member of the Advice and Resolution team, George Ports, discusses allowed deductions from an exempt employee’s salary. George starts with a reminder: exempt employees are paid on a salary basis. Deductions are allowed but are limited. George shares an example in the video.

Another question that George explores is whether an employer is allowed to suspend an exempt employee without pay for violating a major work rule. He says the answer is yes, but the work rule must be major. He gives suggestions of what counts and what doesn’t.  George points out several scenarios that illustrate why you would have to pay an employee based on when he or she was suspended.

George offers additional deductions that can be made to an exempt employee’s salary in the video. One of the deductions he explains is the entire week concept. If there is not work completed by the employee in an entire week, the employer does not have to pay the employee for that week. Highlighting today’s technology, George emphasizes that if an employee is responding to emails or voicemails during this week, the entire work week exception is invalid.

Improper deductions from an exempt employee’s salary can destroy the exemption status for that employee and the exemption status of employees in that same classification, George says in the video. He also lists deductions that an employer is not allowed to take from an exempt employee’s salary.

If you have any questions about wage and hour regulations, please call CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Understanding USERRA and its Employment Protections

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

In today’s post, John Gupton, CAI’s General Counsel and HR Advisor on CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team, shares important information about The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

John Gupton, General Counsel and HR Advisor

John Gupton, General Counsel and HR Advisor

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides certain reemployment rights and benefit protections for military personnel including members of the National Guard and reservists. USERRA protects applicants and employees who serve in the military, or who apply to serve, from employment discrimination, and provides employment and reemployment rights after completion of military service or training, or application for service.

USERRA requires that service members provide advance written or verbal notice to their employers for all military duty unless giving notice is impossible, unreasonable, or precluded by military necessity. An employee should provide notice as far in advance as is reasonable under the circumstances. Additionally, service members are able (but are not required) to use accrued vacation or annual leave while performing military duty. USERRA establishes the cumulative length of time that an individual may be absent from work for military duty and retain reemployment rights to five years; however, there are some exceptions to the five-year limit.

USERRA provides that returning service-members are reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service (the long-standing “escalator” principle), with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. USERRA also requires that reasonable efforts (such as training or retraining) be made to enable returning service members to refresh or upgrade their skills to help them qualify for reemployment.

The period an individual has to make application for reemployment or report back to work after military service is based on time spent on military duty. For service of less than 31 days, the service member must return at the beginning of the next regularly scheduled work period on the first full day after release from service, taking into account safe travel home plus an eight-hour rest period. For service of more than 30 days but less than 181 days, the service member must submit an application for reemployment within 14 days of release from service. For service of more than 180 days, an application for reemployment must be submitted within 90 days of release from service.

For more information on USERRA, check out Chapter 14 of CAI’s Employers’ Desk Manual on our web site (www.capital.org) under the Member Services section.

Improving Employee Attitudes Toward Safety in the Workplace

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares ways in which you can help your employees keep safety as a top priority in the workplace.

Renee' Watkins, HR Advisor

Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor

Most safety managers will agree that the most difficult part of implementing a safety policy is getting employees to take safety seriously and to support the policy as it relates to them and to their fellow team members.

In the day-to-day production environment, where employees have a specific set of tasks to execute each day, safety concerns regarding the safe and proper execution of these tasks are often overlooked as routine redundancy takes over. The repetitive nature of the process can sometimes cause employees to implement shortcuts or even ignore safety precautions.

This is further complicated by taking new hires through the safety policy training only to have them mentored by someone who does not take safety seriously and undermines everything they have been taught through onboarding.

So, how does a safety manager promote safety policy throughout the organization with existing employees and alter their thought process to put safety at the forefront of everything they do? Below are three lessons and insights taken from high-stake manufacturing and construction industries that may help safety managers engage their employees in supporting a safety policy across the board.

Demonstrate Employee Wellness as a Priority

Ensure that corporate leadership prioritizes wellness in the workplace with a healthy balance of employer-sponsored benefits for both the physical and emotional well-being of the workforce. Opportunities for gym memberships, nutrition analysis and professional counseling are just a few examples of how management can show concern for their employees’ overall health.

Involve Employees in Safety Policy and Engagement

Communication should be a two-way street in order for any policy to work effectively. Regular emails or other policy reminders with regard to safety in the workplace will serve to remind everyone that safety is a priority, as well as a concern. Employees should also be involved in providing feedback to management relating to any safety concerns they notice or would like to see incorporated into a policy. An open-door approach, which encourages employees to speak freely if they feel there is a risk on the production floor, should be present and communicated.

Measure Employee Stress Levels

Employees are often unable to separate their professional lives from their personal lives and many have issues they deal with on both sides of the fence each and every day. Management in every level of the organization should pay close attention to the overall emotional health of their employees and act to offer assistance at any time when something seems amiss. Team members who may know the details of what their fellow co-workers are facing should be encouraged to speak up and inform management when they feel involvement is warranted, without fear of being exposed for breaking the confidence of their co-worker.

These techniques can also apply to more than just manufacturing and construction, and will help safety managers to convey the importance of employee safety with management’s full support. By demonstrating a genuine concern for employee safety and promoting that concern through frequent and consistent communications with the workforce, safety in the workplace will remain at the forefront of each worker’s mind as they go about the execution of their daily tasks.

For additional help with your company’s safety efforts, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Key Learnings from 5 Different Areas of State and Federal Employment Law

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

PPT Slide ELLU 2014More than 430 HR professionals and company executives attended CAI’s 2014 Employment and Labor Law Update. Participants traveled to the McKimmon Center in Raleigh for the two-day event on May 14 and May 15 to receive the latest updates in state and federal law.

Knowledgeable attorneys from Ogletree Deakins, as well as an expert from CAI, shared important changes in the law at the conference. Topics the presentations covered included workplace investigations, FMLA, wage and hour issues, the ADA, and more.

Below is some of the information, which covers five different areas of employment law, discussed at the conference:

Expect more aggressive investigative tactics from the EEOC:

  • The EEOC is making extensive requests for information not germane to the charge at hand
  • Increased threats and uses of subpoenas
  • Increased demand for on-site investigations
  • During on-site investigations, EEOC increasing demands to review signage, personnel files and make general employee inquiries unrelated to charge
  • Increased demands for on-site tours and witness interviews
  • Aggressive behavior in settlement negotiations

Enforcement Trends in Immigration Law:

  • There’s nothing random about audits from ICE
    • Most audits are lead-driven and are discovered by a tip-line complaint, local law enforcement data sharing, and federal agency data sharing
  • Avoid these common I-9 mishaps:
    • Using a wrong or outdated I-9 form
    • Not completing Section 1 or 2 in the specified time frame
    • A new hire did not sign Section 1
    • Someone else completes Section 1 but they do not have a Preparer or Translator Certification
    • Hire date is missing
    • Employer’s address is incomplete

Updates in the ADA:

  • Leave as a reasonable accommodation
    • Granting a leave of absence may be considered a reasonable and required accommodation under the ADA if no other sufficient reasonable accommodation is available
    • Maximum leave policies don’t satisfy the ADA. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have one. You will just have to consider the ADA before discharging an employee for exceeding the maximum
    • An accommodation is “reasonable” if it “seems reasonable on its face, i.e., ordinarily in the run of cases”—in other words—if it appears feasible or plausible

Updates in NC Legislation—Bills of Interest:

  • House Bill 846: Job and Education Privacy Act- would prohibit employers and colleges from requiring individuals to disclose access information to personal social media and email accounts
    • Passed the house on May 16, 2013 and is in the senate; eligible for consideration in the 2014 session
  • House Bill 872: Protect NC Right-To-Work – declares it unfair trade practices for any contract to require a contractor or sub-contractor to use unionized labor. Contracts involving federal funds would be exempt
    • Passed in the House on May 2, 2013 and is in the senate; eligible for consideration in 2014 session

The NLRB is cracking down and scrutinizing company rules in several business areas, including social media:

  • Avoid the following in your company social media policy to stay on good terms with the NLRB
    • Prohibiting discussion of wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment
    • Prohibiting anyone from sharing confidential information without clarifying the definition
    • Prohibiting “no-disparagement” or words of “negative impact”
    • Vague restrictions about inappropriate conversations
    • Prohibiting the use of trademarks or company logos

For additional information on CAI’s conferences, please go to https://www.capital.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?site=cai&webcode=cai-training-conferences.

 

Wage and Hour Law – Lectures, Seminars and Meetings

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

In today’s post, John Gupton, CAI’s General Counsel and HR Advisor on CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team, shares important information about wage and hour compliance.

john g editUnder the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employer must pay its employees at least the minimum wage for all hours worked, and time and one-half overtime pay based on an employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek unless the employee is exempt for some reason. The time an employee spends in meetings, training, attending a class or course, or attending a workshop may or may not be hours worked based on the circumstances and under certain conditions.

Employee attendance at meetings, lectures, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time if the following criteria are met:

  • Attendance is outside the employee’s normal working hours;
  • Attendance is voluntary;
  • The course, lecture or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

Attendance is not voluntary, of course, if it is required by the employer. It is not voluntary if the employee is given to understand or led to believe that his or her present working conditions or the continuance of his or her employment would be adversely affected by nonattendance.

The training is directly related to the employee’s job if it is designed to make the employee handle his or her job more effectively as distinguished from training him or her for another job, or to a new or additional skill. Where a training course is instituted for the purpose of preparing for advancement through upgrading the employee to a higher skill, and is not intended to make the employee more efficient in his or her present job, the training is not considered directly related to the employee’s job even though the course incidentally improves his or her skill in doing his or her regular work.

Of course, if an employee on their own initiative attends an independent school, college or independent trade school after hours, the time is not hours worked for the employer even if the courses are related to the employee’s job.

Additional information regarding wage and hour issues will be shared at the 2014 Employment and Labor Law Update. The conference will take place at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh on May 14 and May 15. In addition to wage and hour compliance, , presenters will cover immigration law, NC legislature, ADA, minimizing lawsuits, protecting proprietary information, and more. Register today at www.capital.org/lawupdate.