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Change Is Coming Quickly For Employers in 2009

February 15, 2009

Dunn, Carney, Allen, Higgins and Tongue
Attorneys at Law, Portland, eAlerts

This year, employers have already had three major changes to deal with – significant FMLA changes, the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and a new U.S. Supreme Court decision that again expands the conduct protected by the anti-retaliation provision of Title VII – and we all see the signs that more changes are in the works.

Our Employment & Labor Team is committed to helping you understand these changes, develop strategies to deal with them, and assist in compliance efforts, as needed.  We are dedicated to your success and are working hard to provide you the necessary tools and information you need including our eNews updates and Best Practice pointers, and our Clients & Friends Seminars.  Click here to learn about our February program.

Last year, we offered help in dealing with the downsizing process many companies were experiencing.  Unfortunately, this trend continues, so we want to remind you of this resource and make it available here.  We also provided a detailed analysis of the FMLA regulations and the changes employers were required to make as a result.  It is still available here if you need a resource to use with your HR team or managers.

This month, we focus on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the new U.S. Supreme Court decision, and the much debated Employee Free Choice Act and other measures designed to assist unions in organizing American workers.  This eNews highlights some of the issues and links to two additional articles with more details and helpful information.

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

On January 30, President Obama signed his first bill into law – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (“Ledbetter Act”).  The Ledbetter Act effectively reverses an earlier U.S. Supreme Court case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear.  More importantly, it fundamentally changes the way employers need to think about issues of “Equal Pay.”

To view the rest of our article about this change and the Best Practices employers should adopt now, click here.

The Supreme Court Speaks – Crawford v. Metro. Gov’t of Nashville & Davidson County, Tenn.

On January 26, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified that employees who oppose harassment by disclosing its existence through an internal company investigation are protected from retaliation under Title VII.  In Crawford, the plaintiff merely answered questions by an investigator who was evaluating a harassment allegation raised by another employee.  Soon thereafter she was fired.  Crawford alleged that her disclosure of harassing conduct directed at her was the reason she was let go.

The Crawford decision should serve as a reminder of how easy it is for employees to fall under the protection from retaliation provided by Title VII and other anti-discrimination statutes.  Any unfavorable action, even discipline or negative performance evaluations, can be viewed as an unlawful effort to punish the employee for speaking out about alleged discrimination or harassment.

In our next eNews, we will bring you an in-depth analysis of how the Crawford case impacts how employers will need to modify the process for investigating allegations of discrimination or harassment, and some Best Practice suggestions for managing employees after they raise these types of concerns.

The Shift Toward Unionizing America

On January 7, 2009, the presidents of the nation’s largest labor unions, as well as the heads of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win federations, met to begin discussions about reunifying the labor movement into one organization. A joint statement by the presidents said the goal of the meeting was to “create a unified labor movement that can speak and act  nationally on the critical issues facing working Americans.”

This meeting represents just one of many events that make it clear that unions are gearing up for organizing efforts like our country has never experienced before.  To view the rest of this vital information, as well as our summary of the Employee Free Choice Act and critical steps you need to take now, click here.

New Form I-9 Effective Date Delayed

We recently announced a new Form I-9 that employers were supposed to start using February 2, 2009.  Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it has delayed the effective date for using the new Form I-9 until April 3, 2009.  This is not an area where employers can get a head start by using the new form early.  Employers who use the new Form I-9 before April 3, 2009, are subject to civil and monetary penalties.

Please Join Us

If you have not already done so, please register for our next Clients & Friends program “Employment Issues in the New Year.”  During this program, we will be discussing the ADAAA, EFCA, and Hot Wage & Hour Issues.  It will be held at the Multnomah Athletic Club on February 18, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.  We hope to see you there!

The Dunn Carney Labor and Employment Law Team is ready to assist employers with the many challenges and changes they will faces in 2009.  If you have any questions or would like our assistance navigating the increasingly complex landscape, please contact Tamsen Leachman or Jack Cooper of the Dunn Carney Labor and Employment Law Team.

Thanks to for Tamsen Leachman contributing to this article.

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