Author: Kelly Ann Bird

What Employers Should Know About Biden’s AI Executive Order

On October 30, 2023, President Biden issued an Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The sweeping Executive Order sets out standards for safe and secure uses of AI with an emphasis on privacy protections, the promotion of innovation and competition, avoiding discrimination and bias, and supporting workers. The Executive Order requires principles and best practices to be established by the Secretary of Labor within 180 days of the Executive Order. The principles and best practices will provide guidance for employers to “mitigate AI’s potential harms to employees’ well-being and maximize its potential benefits.” The principles and best practices must address the following, • job-displacement risks and career opportunities related to AI, including effects on job skills and evaluation of applicants and workers • labor standards and job quality, including issues related to the equity, protected activity, compensation, health, and safety implications of AI in the workplace • implications for workers of employers’ AI-related collection and use of data about them, including transparency, engagement, management, and activity protected under worker-protection laws Agencies will likely adopt the Secretary of Labor’s guidelines, as appropriate and consistent with applicable laws. We can also expect guidance on AI workforce development, as well as employee monitoring, which would ensure that workers whose...

What Employers Should Know About the EEOC Proposed Rulemaking on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) went into effect on June 27, 2023. The PWFA protects pregnant employees and job applicants by filling the gaps in protections for pregnant workers under existing federal laws (Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family Medical Leave Act). Specifically, the PWFA imposes broader and more widely available reasonable accommodation responsibilities for employers with 15 or more employees. On August 7, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posted its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), to implement the PWFA. On August 11, 2023, the EEOC published the NPRM for public comment in the Federal Register. The purpose of this alert is to present a high-level overview of particularly relevant considerations within the proposed regulations and highlight some potential pitfalls and protections under the PWFA of which employers should be aware. As noted above, the intention of the PWFA is to fill in gaps existing within federal legislation, while at the same time streamlining the accommodation process and making it less burdensome for workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. In essence, the PWFA aims to make pregnancy accommodations more accessible, while still preserving the spirit of the interactive accommodation process. Indeed, there are many similarities in the PWFA and the ADA interactive process. In addition, the PWFA...

Anti-Harassment Policies and Training: What New York Employers Need to Know Now

New York State As part of the 2018-2019 New York State Budget (“the Law”), employers within New York State are required to implement an anti-harassment policy by October 9, 2018 and implement an anti-harassment training program for employees and supervisors. In connection with these requirements, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), in consultation with the New York State Division of Human Rights, recently released drafts of its model anti-harassment policy, complaint form, interactive training program, and FAQs (“Anti-Harassment Materials”). Employers may adopt these Anti-Harassment Materials or develop their own policies and programs, provided they comply with or exceed the minimum standards set forth in the Law for the model policy and training program. The NYSDOL accepted comments on the Anti-Harassment Materials through September 12, 2018. Final documents are expected soon. The seven-page template policy is extensive and covers the topics required by the Law, such as: a statement that sexual harassment is a form of “employee misconduct” an explanation of sexual harassment specific examples of harassing conduct details concerning external avenues of complaints for employees (e.g., local, state, and federal anti-discrimination agencies and the local police in cases of assault) prohibitions against retaliation reporting procedures supervisory responsibilities detailed information about the investigation process (including document preservation requirements) a statement that action will be...

The EEOC Finalizes Wellness Program Guidance, Issuing Final Rules on Workplace Wellness Programs and a Sample Notice

After much anticipation (and confusion) regarding legally permissible parameters for certain employer-sponsored wellness programs, on May 16, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued two final rules concerning wellness programs that offer incentives in exchange for health information from employees and their spouses. Specifically, the rules describe how wellness programs can comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act (“GINA”). According to the EEOC’s press release, the rules provide guidance under the ADA and GINA consistent with the relevant provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), as amended by the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The EEOC’s proposed regulations were discussed in a previous post following our presentation entitled “Wellness Programs for a Healthy Workplace” at the Fifth Annual Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Conference. Then, in June, the EEOC issued a sample notice for employer-sponsored wellness programs. Here, we parse the rules into bright-line takeaways for employers.

Wellness Programs for a Healthy Workplace

At the Fifth Annual Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Conference for clients of the firm, we presented a program entitled “Wellness Programs for a Healthy Workplace.” Cathy Kenworthy, President and CEO of Interactive Health, discussed the business case for implementing wellness programs in our workplaces, while I addressed the numerous laws impacting such programs.

Executive Order Mandates Paid Sick Leave

On Labor Day, President Obama issued an Executive Order that increases paid time out for employees of federal contractors. In legislation similar to that enacted in recent years in municipalities, cities, and states across the country, Executive Order 13706 mandates that federal contractors provide paid sick leave on an accrual basis. More specifically, employees must be able to accrue one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. While the Order states that its goal is to ensure that employees on federal contracts “can earn up to 7 days or more of paid sick leave annually,” it requires that contractors “not set a limit on the total accrual of paid sick leave per year, or at any point in time, at less than 56 hours.” Thus, the Order mandates a minimum of seven (7) paid days, but permits an employer to allow accrual of a larger number of days. Although the paid time is not required to be paid out when an employee separates from employment, it must be eligible for carry-over from year to year if unused, and must be reinstated if an employee separates and is rehired by the same employer within twelve (12) months. In addition to time needed for an employee resulting from his or her own “physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition,” the Order permits a broad range of uses, such as obtaining diagnostic or preventive care; “caring for a child, a parent, a spouse, a domestic partner, or other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship” and who needs care for an illness, injury or condition, or diagnostic or preventive care “or is otherwise in need of care;” or for recovery from or attending to matters related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, whether for the employee or any of the members of the employee’s family as defined above. Notably, the Order’s definition of those whom the employee may use paid time to care for – individuals “related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship” – is among the most expansive of any similar legislation.

U.S. Supreme Court Reinstates Pregnant Worker’s Discrimination Case

In Young v. UPS, the United States Supreme Court reinstated a UPS worker’s pregnancy discrimination lawsuit under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, finding that both the District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had applied the wrong standard in upholding UPS’s light-duty-for-injury policy, under which the company refused a light-duty accommodation to a pregnant employee back in 2006. While the Court did not determine whether the employee suffered any actual discrimination, or whether UPS’s policy was impermissible under the PDA – those issues were remanded to the Fourth Circuit – the Court did adopt a modified version of the familiar burden-shifting framework of McDonnell Douglas for analyzing pregnancy discrimination claims under the PDA. The Court’s decision in Young is also noteworthy in that it declined to give deference to the EEOC’s July 2014 guidance on pregnancy discrimination, which we have previously discussed, and, in fact, rejected the argument that the PDA creates “an unconditional favored nations status” for pregnant workers.

NLRA Impact on Non-Union Workplace Policies to Continue into 2013

At the Gibbons Second Annual Employment & Labor Law Conference last week, one panel discussion addressed the National Labor Relation Board’s (“NLRB”) recent activity, and offered a list of topics to watch in 2013. This blog post contains the highlights from that discussion as related to employer policies. Of prime interest in our predictions for 2013 is the “recess appointment” issue. Just three weeks ago, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Canning v. NLRB, No. 12-1115 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 25, 2013) held that three 2012 recess appointments of officers to the NLRB by President Obama were unconstitutional because they lacked the “Advice and Consent” of the Senate and were not authorized by the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause.

Fourth Circuit Says Preferential Treatment for Pregnant Employees Not Required

Pregnant employees who seek accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) need not be offered special treatment, the Fourth Circuit ruled on January 9, 2013. The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals “on the basis of disability.” The PDA, enacted in 1978, amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to specifically prohibit discrimination in employment “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”

U.S. Department of Labor Publishes Proposed Rules for Military FMLA

On Monday, January 28, 2012 the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing statutory amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions concerning military family leave and flight crew eligibility. The proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register and interested parties may submit written comments within a defined period of time, which has not yet been specified.