Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Six Months on Capitol Hill – Five Potential Laws You Need to Know

In the last issue of Astronology, we explored three pieces of legislation with the potential to impact Human Resources: the Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency Act (ALERRT), the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act, and the Department of Commerce and the Workforce Consolidation Act.  Continuing our review of Human Resources impacting legislation being considered and written on Capitol Hill, Astronology highlights five more bills circulating in Washington, D.C.

4. Equal Employment for All Act of 2013
Introduced in the Senate on December 17, 2013, this bill would amend the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA) to prohibit employers from requiring credit history of potential employees as part of the job application process. Under the law, employers cannot use consumer credit reports of prospective and current employees for hiring purposes or for taking negative action. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), states “A bad credit rating is far more often the result of unexpected medical costs, unemployment, economic downturns, or other bad breaks than it is reflection on an individual’s character or abilities; families have not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, and too many Americans are still searching for jobs. This is about basic fairness --- let people compete on their merits, not on whether they already have enough money to pay all their bills.” She adds, “It makes no sense to make it harder for people to get jobs because of a system of credit reporting that has no correlation with job performance and that can be riddled with inaccuracies.”

5. Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act of 2014
This bill, presented in February 2014 by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to cover employers with 25 or more employees, lowering the current 50 employee threshold. “No one should have to fear that they’ll lose their job if they need to take medical leave or care for a family member; the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act sought to end that insecurity by guaranteeing 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Unfortunately, nearly 40% of workers are not covered by that law because they work in businesses with fewer than 50 employees…Every American deserves the rights afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act and this legislation would help us reach that goal.” The amendment also seeks to add reasons for which FMLA leave can be taken, including:
  •  participating in a child or grandchild’s community program or school activity,
  •  meeting routine medical needs for one’s self, child, spouse, or grandchild, and
  •  attending to the needs of the employee’s elderly relatives, including nursing / group home visits.
6. Paycheck Fairness Act
A bill that continues to make its appearance in Congress is the Paycheck Fairness Act. With its reintroduction, the bill was intended to shrink the pay gap between men and women. The sponsors (Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; Representative Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.) believe that because women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man for equal work, there must be corrective action taken to fix the disparity that can cost women over the cost of their careers approximately $434,000 on average. In April 2014, the bill was once again outvoted for further discussion from the Republicans and one Independent present.  According to the Washington Post, Republicans support equal pay for equal work.  However, the bill would increase civil lawsuits.  To the Republicans, the bill is unnecessary because discrimination based on gender is already illegal.

7. The Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA)
A reintroduced bill on February 6, 2013, SNOPA is designed to protect employees from divulging their personal information on their social network profiles. It would prohibit institutions such as places of employment and educational institutions from requiring users to relinquish their log-in information (user name and / or password, etc.).  The law would also protect employees from being punished for refusing any such request.  Although the federal government has been slow in this area, states have already begun motioning on creating such laws.  Maryland, for instance, is the first state to prohibit employers from requesting / accessing social media passwords or gaining access to the social media accounts of prospective and current employees. We have yet to hear anything else on this law; sometime in 2014 it could reappear given the activity at the state level.

8. Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes for employment discrimination prohibitions. Previously introduced, the ENDA would make it illegal for an employer with 15 or more employees to:

1. Refuse to hire or fire any individual due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It would also make it illegal for an employer to discriminate with respect to their compensation and terms of employment.

2. To classify, limit or segregate applicants or employee in any manner that would deny an individual employment because of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The ENDA was passed in the Senate and awaits a vote by the House. As of current, 21 states have passed laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, while 19 states also prohibit gender identity.  We shall see, perhaps in 2014, the House’s response to the ENDA.

What other potential laws have you on your toes?  Write to Astronology! We’d like to hear your input on current Human Resource laws and possible future legislation.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Stat Counter