OSHA News Releases from January 15 through January 31

  • 01/30/2018 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Georgia Auto Parts Manufacturer for Safety Violations, Proposes Maximum Penalties
  • 01/25/2018 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Gainesville Poultry Processing Company For Amputations and Other Serious Hazards
  • 01/25/2018 – Region 8 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Four Colorado Employers After Fatal Fire and Explosion at Oil and Gas Facility
  • 01/24/2018 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Issues Citations and $69,058 in Penalties to Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for Endangering Employees
  • 01/24/2018 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Pallet Manufacturer After Employee Injured by Machine
  • 01/23/2018 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Construction Company For Exposing Employees to Hazards and Proposes $59,864 in Penalties

 

Fiscal Year 2017 EEOC Statistics are Here (and So Is Retaliation!)

This post was written by Barbara E. Hoey and Alyssa Smilowitz and originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog.

Last week the EEOC released its annual report breaking down charges received during the fiscal year. In fiscal year 2017, the agency received 84,254 charges and took in $398 million between voluntary resolutions and litigation.

What’s striking is the number of retaliation charges – with 41,097 charges it is an overwhelming 48.8% of total charges filed in 2017. In second place was race with 28,528 charges, followed closely by disability in third place with 26,838. Charges based on sex were not far off with 25,605 charges in the year. The EEOC received 6,696 sexual harassment charges, which is a slight drop from fiscal year 2016’s 6,758 charges.

As employers face more internal complaints of harassment – this retaliation number further highlights the critical importance of a robust and well-honed investigation process. Employers need to handle investigations very carefully, and be mindful that the complainant (and the witnesses) may also be the source of your next retaliation complaint. Investigators and managers must be carefully trained to avoid situations which can lead to complaints or retaliation.

Overall, the EEOC resolved close to 100,000 charges in fiscal year 2017 (99,109), reducing the charge workload to the agency’s lowest inventory in a decade.

New Tax Law Impact on Employee Benefits and Compensation

This post was originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog.

At the end of 2017, President Trump signed into law The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”) that includes significant changes in the employee benefits area, most of which became effective on January 1, 2018. The following is a brief description of some of the notable changes, and we expect additional guidance on many of the Act’s provisions.

Executive Compensation

IRC §162(m) Changes for Public Companies. The Act repeals the performance-based compensation exception to the $1 million pay cap under IRC §162(m) and expands the definition of “covered employee” to include anyone who holds the CEO or CFO position at any time during the tax year plus the three highest paid executive officers for the year. Under the new rules, once a covered employee, always a covered employee with respect to compensation paid in future years – including compensation that becomes payable following retirement (e.g., severance and deferred compensation) and amounts payable to beneficiaries. Under a transition rule, compensation payable pursuant to a written binding contract in effect on November 2, 2017 that is not materially modified thereafter is exempt from the new requirements.

Qualified Retirement Plans

Loan-Offset Rollovers. Previously, a terminated participant who defaulted on a plan loan was deemed to have taken a taxable distribution for the outstanding loan balance unless that amount was contributed to another qualified plan or IRA within 60 days of termination. The Act extends the 60-day period to the due date (including extensions) for filing the participant’s tax return for the year the loan default occurs.

2016 Disaster Relief. Much like the relief provided by the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017 (see our previous Client Advisory), the Act provides individuals impacted by major disasters in 2016, including Hurricane Matthew, with penalty-free access to retirement funds through qualified distributions of up to $100,000, allows the amount distributed to be repaid over 3 years, and allows taxpayers who cannot repay the distribution to spread out any income inclusion over 3 years. Plan amendments implementing these provisions must be adopted on or before December 31, 2018 (for calendar year plans).

Hardship Withdrawals. Defined contributions plans that allow for safe-harbor hardship withdrawals should examine the extent to which hardship withdrawals may be permitted due to casualty losses as the Act restricts what may be classified as a casualty loss.

To read the full advisory, click here.

The Rising Cost of “Hush Money” – Congress Strips Tax Incentives for Sexual Harassment Nondisclosure Agreements

This post was written by Mark A. Konkel and Steven R. Nevolis and originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog.

You can count Congress among the institutions caught in the ground swell of the #MeToo movement, and they’re using the tax code to prove it.

Buried in the various changes of the new tax bill, Congress included Section 13307, titled “Denial of Deduction for Settlements Subject to Nondisclosure Agreements Paid in Connection with Sexual Harassment or Sexual Abuse.” Specifically, Section 13307 amends the Internal Revenue Code Section 162(q) to state:

No deduction shall be allowed … for (1) any settlement or payment related to sexual harassment or sexual abuse if such settlement or payment is subject to a nondisclosure agreement, or (2) attorney’s fees related to such a settlement or payment.

Effective for amounts paid or incurred after December 22, 2017, this deceptively complex provision will have broad impact for businesses attempting to resolve sexual harassment claims.

Generally speaking, the old language of Section 162 allowed payments made under settlement agreements and attorneys’ fees paid in connection with the defense of an action as tax deductible for businesses as a business expense.

However, from the plain language of this new provision, businesses faced with the prospect of settling a sexual harassment claim will now have to make a choice – are they to choose between their bank account or their public image?

Continue Reading

The New Year Brings New Rules to New York

This post was written by Barbara E. Hoey, Mark A. Konkel, Steven R. Nevolis and Diana R. Hamar and originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog.

As January draws to a close, New York employers are confronting the reality of many new laws and regulations that govern the employment relationship – from the new Paid Family Leave law, to the new federal tax law. We are also tracking several newly-signed and proposed pieces of legislation, which could further complicate the employment relationship in New York.

Here is what there is so far:

New York Paid Family Leave

As we previously reported, effective January 1, most employers in New York State will be covered by the new Paid Family Leave law (“PFL”). Under the PFL, employers will need to provide eligible employees with 8 weeks of family leave with salary reimbursement capped at 50% of the state’s average weekly wage. This will increase on an annual sliding schedule until 2021 when employees will be entitled to 12 weeks of family leave with salary reimbursement capped at 67% of the state’s average weekly wage.

Eligible employees will be permitted to take leave to care for a qualified family member’s serious medical condition, to care for the birth or placement of a child, or for a qualified military exigency. Leave under the PFL will overlap with an employee’s leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act under certain circumstances.

For a more extensive analysis of the PFL, its requirements (including employer notice requirements), and suggested steps for compliance, we encourage you to read our previous blog post on this law: “A New Headache – New York’s Paid Family LeaveContinue Reading

2018 OSHA News Releases from January 1st through January 15th

  • 01/09/2018 – Region 2 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites South Jersey Manufacturer For Continued Safety Violations
  • 01/05/2018 – OSHA National News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Urges Employees and Employers Engaged In Snow Removal and Cleanup to Be Aware of Potential Hazards
  • 01/05/2018 – Region 1 OSHA News Release – OSHA Cites Schnabel Foundation Company, Proposes $212,396 in Penalties
  • 01/05/2018 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Imposes Maximum Fines on Motion Picture Company for Failing to Adequately Protect From Fall Hazards
  • 01/04/2018 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – Georgia Safety Stand-Down Focuses on Winter Weather Hazards
  • 01/03/2018 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Finds Ohio Contractor Continues To Expose Roofers to Falls and Other Safety Hazards
  • 01/03/2018 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – OSHA, Miron Construction, and 23 Contractors Partner for Safety on University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Dorm Renovation Project
  • 01/03/2018 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – OSHA and Ironworkers Partner to Provide Outreach and Protect Construction Employees on Jobsites

 

December 2017 OSHA News Releases

  • 12/29/2017 – OSHA National News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Urges Employees and Employers Engaged In Snow Removal and Cleanup to Be Aware of Potential Hazards
  • 12/28/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Labor Department Cites Tampa Electric and Gaffin Industrial Services After Molten Slag Release Fatally Injures 5 and Burns 1
  • 12/28/2017 – Region 9 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Saipan Construction Company After Three Fatal Exposures to Hydrogen Sulfide Gas
  • 12/27/2017 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Three Companies for Exposing Employees To Lead, Other Hazards, During Renovation of Chicago’s Old Post Office
  • 12/21/2017 – Region 1 OSHA News Release – New Haven Building Trades and Dimeo Construction Partner with U.S. Department of Labor to Promote Employee and Workplace Safety
  • 12/21/2017 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – Vinyl Floor Manufacturer Faces $514,236 in Penalties for Safety Violations
  • 12/19/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – Statement from OSHA Regarding Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016
  • 12/19/2017 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – U.S. Labor Department and Bartlett Grain Reach Comprehensive Settlement Agreement to Improve Safety at 20 Facilities in 6 States
  • 12/18/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – U.S. Labor Department’s OSHA Accepting Electronically Submitted Injury, Illness Reports Through December 31
  • 12/15/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – OSHA and the National Association of Women in Construction Renew Alliance to Protect Safety and Health of Female Construction Workers
  • 12/14/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Florida Company and Proposes $148,845 in Penalties for Exposing Employees to Trenching Hazards
  • 12/12/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Georgia Contractor for Trenching Hazards and Proposes $130,552 in Penalties
  • 12/11/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Alabama Auto Dealership after Fatal Fire
  • 12/08/2017 – Region 2 OSHA News Release – Employee Receives Court-Ordered Restitution After Justified Whistleblowing Action
  • 12/04/2017 – Region 3 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites West Virginia Contractor After Employee Injured in Roof Fall, Proposes Penalties Totaling $86,916
  • 12/01/2017 – Region 1 OSHA News Release – OSHA Cites Connecticut Contractor for Mercury and Respirator Hazards at New Hampshire Demolition Site

 

Deadline Extension for Annual Injury and Illness Reports (OSHA Form 300A)

In the “better late than “never” category, OSHA announced today that it will still accept 300A annual summary injury data for calendar year 2016 through OSHA’s on-line Injury Tracking Application (ITA) (https://www.osha.gov/injuryreporting/index.html) until midnight on December 31, 2017.  If submitted by then, but after the official December 15th deadline, OSHA announced that no enforcement action would be taken.

Additional details are in the OSHA announcement linked here

New Sexual Harassment Requirements for Illinois Lobbyists

This post was written by Matthew C. Luzadder and Jeffrey Hunter and originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog.

Take action now to meet the new policy, training, and certification requirements.

Beginning January 1, 2018, Illinois lobbyists and their employers must comply with new sexual harassment compliance rules. Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Public Act 100-0554 (the Act) to combat sexual harassment in the state legislature. The Act imposes sweeping new requirements on lobbyists even if they are the victims. Press reports detail a number of allegations involving legislators, including some made by lobbyists and activists. One allegation forced the Senate majority leader to step-down from his post. In addition, hundreds of women signed an open letter to bring attention to this pattern of abuse in the state capitol. It appears that discussion of sexual harassment will continue into 2018.

Before the Act, only the Legislative Inspector General could investigate allegations of legislators’ sexual misconduct. That position, however, has been vacant since 2014. Notably, more than two dozen allegations sat uninvestigated on an empty desk. Now, state law authorizes the Secretary of State Inspector General to investigate allegations and the State Executive Ethics Commission to enforce the rules. The legislature, in policing itself, requires lobbyist employers to follow much the same requirements as state agencies in combatting sexual harassment.

Kelley Drye has followed this issue closely and is advising clients on proactive steps they can take to prevent sexual harassment. Stopping the “Harveys in our midst” before they can harm our colleagues or our businesses is more important than ever before. Relying on a generic HR sexual harassment policy is not enough. Employers—not just their registered lobbyists—face new requirements with only weeks to comply. Continue Reading

November 2017 OSHA News Releases

  • 11/29/2017 – Region 3 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Fines US Environmental Inc. for Safety Violations and Proposes Penalties Totaling $333,756
  • 11/28/2017 – Region 6 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor and Pottery Manufacturer Reach Settlement Agreement Following Worker Fatality
  • 11/22/2017 – OSHA National News Release – U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Extends Compliance Date for Electronically Submitting Injury, Illness Reports to December 15, 2017
  • 11/17/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Tampa Electric Co. And Critical Intervention Services Following Hazardous Chemical Release
  • 11/17/2017 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Proposes Over $1.8 Million in Fines Against a Wisconsin Corn Milling Facility After Fatal Grain Dust Explosion
  • 11/09/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – OSHA Issues Final Rule Setting Compliance Date for Crane Operator Certification Requirements
  • 11/09/2017 – Region 1 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Lynnway Auto Auction For Exposing Employees to Numerous Hazards
  • 11/09/2017 – Region 2 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Again Cites Three Queens Supermarkets For Safety Violations
  • 11/08/2017 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Bimbo Bakeries USA For Multiple Workplace Hazards
  • 11/08/2017 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Farmers Cooperative After Worker Entrapped in Grain Bin
  • 11/08/2017 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – Missouri Podiatry Clinic Cited for Improper Handling of Medical Waste
  • 11/08/2017 – Region 8 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Contractors in Montana Following Severe Burns
  • 11/07/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Georgia Parts Manufacturer After Injuries Reveal Hazards
  • 11/07/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Resumes Regular Enforcement in Florida and Georgia
  • 11/02/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – U.S. Department of Labor Signs Alliance with Robotic Industries Association and NIOSH to Improve Worker Protections in Emerging Tech Industry
  • 11/01/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Mississippi Company for Exposing Workers To Hazardous Energy, Equipment, and Other Hazards
  • 11/01/2017 – Region 10 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Boise Construction Company For Trenching Violations

 

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