CAI’s 2016 Triad Employment Law Update was attended by nearly 200 HR professionals seeking information and updates on federal and state laws and regulations facing North Carolina employers. HR experts from CAI along with attorneys from Costangy Brooks Smith & Prophete LLP presented on a variety of topics of significance to North Carolina employers.
A few highlights from this year’s conference:
- On December 1, 2016, the Overtime Rule goes into effect and raises the threshold to $913/week or $47,476 per year; $134,004 for highly compensated employees. Be sure you fully understand the differences between an employee and an independent contractor. The USDOL and NCIC have signed an agreement to oversee compliance with various regulations and work together to reduce employee misclassification, among other things.
- Review your handbooks regularly. Many employee handbooks contain a policy or language that may trigger a complaint by the NLRB. Ensure that your policies are not too broad or too vague, as this will leave them open to interpretation.
- Regarding enforcement protections for LGBT, the EEOC states that employers must comply with federal law, even if state law conflicts or offers no protection for this group. LGBT charge filings and resolutions are on the rise as more employees become aware that they can file claims. For further clarification, you can view the EEOC Fact Sheet on protections for LGBT workers here.
- Workplace bullying can be physical, physically threatening or non-physical. In North Carolina, there are currently no laws against workplace bullying but employers should not tolerate bullying on any level. High turnover, low productivity, lost innovations and difficulty hiring quality employees can all result from workplace bullying.
- According to ADAAA, employers have an obligation to engage in good faith in the interactive process to determine if an employee has a disability and whether there are reasonable accommodations that can be implemented. Reasonable accommodations under the ADAAA can include assistive devices, change in assignments, service animals and telecommuting. Many employers have found individuals with disabilities to be productive and loyal employees.
- Employers may use bonuses to satisfy part of the new standard salary level test. The DOL allows nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary test requirement. Such bonuses include, for example, nondiscretionary incentive bonuses tied to productivity or profitability (a bonus based on the specified percentage of the profits generated by a business in the prior quarter.)
- North Carolina law does allow employers to test job applicants and employees for drug or alcohol impairment and regulates the procedures that employers must follow in implementing such testing. State law does not require employers to drug test, but it does regulate those employers who voluntarily choose to implement a drug-testing program.
- Don’t put a non-compete clause in an employee handbook. Have a standalone non-compete or employment agreement with a non-compete provision. When developing a non-compete, keep in mind that the narrower in geographic scope the better. Be sure to have your job candidate sign this agreement before or on the first day of employment with your company.
- Penalties for non-compliance of the ACA are $1,000 per enrollee for willful failures. However, good faith compliance efforts can excuse penalties. The DOL has more information on their website.
- Title VII prohibits religious discrimination and requires reasonable accommodations as it pertains to religion. Broadly defined, religion includes “Ultimate ideas” about “life, purpose, and death.”
- Under FMLA an employee who has given birth is entitled to 12 weeks of leave. Mothers who return to work and are breastfeeding must be provided breaks to express milk and have access to a clean, safe, private place for this purpose.
- As November 8th nears, employers may want to consider allowing employees some paid time off to vote, if there is insufficient time for the employee to vote outside of working hours. Although there is no statute in North Carolina that mandates time off to vote, terminating an employee for taking time off to vote could be the basis for tort action for wrongful discharge. Employers should encourage their employees to exercise their right to vote.
More than 1,100 North Carolina employers trust CAI to help them minimize liability and maximize employee engagement, contact CAI at 919-878-9222 or email email@example.com to learn more about the many ways we can help you.