If there is one area of HR that is constantly changing, it's employment law. Take a quick tour of recent developments in law and compliance. We hit the highlights of the new laws, give you a view of pending regulations and discuss two trends that could impact your company: increased enforcement and an increase in litigation.  

Recent developments in employment law

If there is one area of HR that is constantly changing, it's employment law. Take a quick tour of recent developments in law and compliance. We hit the highlights of the new laws, give you a view of pending regulations and discuss two trends that could impact your company: increased enforcement and an increase in litigation. 

New laws and regulations 
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Every time an employee receives a paycheck that reflects a prior discriminatory decision, the employer incurs another violation -- and restarts the clock on the statute of limitations. 

Family and Medical Leave Act Military Amendments. Qualifying exigency leave has been extended to active duty members of the armed forces. Caregivers' leave can be as much as 26 weeks in a single 12-month period. 

Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act. This act prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual on the basis of disability (which is defined as a physical or mental impairment that "substantially limits" one or more of the "major life activities" of such an individual). The amendment to this act expanded the law's potential to impact employers. A recent revision interprets the law in favor of employees who are covered even if their condition is in remission or it can be controlled or remedied. More employees will be covered by the law, expanding the employer's duty to accommodate. 

Fair Labor Standards Act. The Nursing Mother Amendment states employers are required to provide nursing mothers with reasonable breaks anytime that they need to express milk for up to one year after the child's birth. Breaks need not be paid if they occur during working time, and employers are required to provide nursing mothers with a place, other than a restroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion. There is an exception for employers with 50 or fewer employees if it causes "undue hardship." Employers must comply with their state standard if that standard is more favorable to the employee. 

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. This act prohibits the use of genetic information in employment decision making and restricts the deliberate acquisition of genetic information. Such information must be maintained as a confidential medical record, and the law places strict limits on disclosure of genetic information.

Pending age discrimination regulation 
Age Discrimination in Employment Act Regulations. These proposed regulations redefine the Reasonable Factors Other Than Age ("RFOA") defense to business decisions that disproportionately adversely effect individuals over the age of 40, and would otherwise violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). The Proposed EEOC regulations consider factors that may be relevant to the "reasonableness" determination and consider whether the employment practice and the manner of its implementation are common business practices. The extent to which the factor is related to the employer's stated business goal will become relevant, and the employer would need to take steps to define the factor fairly and accurately, which impacts training, guidance, instruction of managers and more. 

The extent to which an employer takes steps to assess the adverse impact of its employment practice on older workers would become important. This includes the severity of the harm to individuals within the protected age group in terms of the degree of injury and the numbers of persons adversely affected and the extent to which the employer took preventative or corrective steps to minimize the severity of the harm, in light of the burden of undertaking such steps. Another important consideration is whether other options were available and the reasons for which the employer selected an option. 

This proposed regulation is a good example that your employment policies are no longer a simple decision. The environment now requires tremendously complex analysis concerning business practices and comparisons with other employers. 

Trends to watch 
Increased enforcement from government agencies. Scrutiny is increasing at the Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Targets of enforcement include harassment/discrimination, independent contractor misclassification, minimum wage/overtime, equal pay, safety and credit histories. And more resources are now available to expand enforcement efforts. 

Increased litigation. Class action suits expose employers to expensive settlements, and such litigation is increasing. Wage-and-hour lawsuits abound and harassment/discrimination is coming to the forefront as employees use social networking sites as harassment devices. In the face of economic downturn, litigation tends to rise. Even demographics play a role as the workforce ages and the sheer number of disability issues increase. 

Ceridian HR compliance solutions help you cut through the legalese of legislation with comprehensive support. Discover how your organization can achieve the strongest possible compliance at the lowest possible cost.