2023 has brought many updates and changes to the legal landscape. Our blog posts have covered many of them, but you may not remember (or care to remember) them. Before moving on to 2024, let’s take a moment to review our top five blog posts from the year and the key takeaways from each.
Our most read blog of 2023 covered the federal COVID-19 vaccination requirement that applied to certain healthcare employers, which was lifted effective August 4, 2023. (Yes, in 2023 we were still talking about COVID-19). However, keep in mind that state laws may still apply. For example, Tennessee law generally prohibits employers from requiring employee vaccination, with an exception for entities subject to valid and enforceable Medicare or Medicaid requirements to the contrary (such as the federal vaccine requirement). However, now that the federal vaccine requirement is gone, there is no exception for these Medicare or Medicaid providers, and they are likely fully subject to Tennessee’s prohibition.
In this blog post, we covered a recent Eleventh Circuit case in which the court addressed ADA reasonable accommodation requests . The employee requested an accommodation, and the employer did not grant it—but the employee continued to work. Did the employee have a “failure to accommodate” claim? The Eleventh Circuit said yes, potentially. The court clarified that an employee still must suffer some harm—here, he needed to show that the failure to accommodate adversely impacted his hiring, firing, compensation, training, or other terms, conditions, and privileges of his employment. So, when you are considering an employee’s accommodation request, think about whether not granting it (or not providing any accommodation) could negatively impact the employee’s compensation, safety, training, or other aspects of the job. Always remember to engage in the interactive process with the employee to see if you can land on an agreeable accommodation.
If your business is subject to the FLSA (and almost everyone is), you probably know that you must provide an FLSA poster in your workplace. In this blog post, we reported that there is an updated FLSA “Employee Rights” poster that includes a “PUMP AT WORK” section, required under the Provide Urgent Material Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act (more information on the PUMP Act here).
In this now-timely blog post from June 2023, we discussed new guidance on tracking FMLA time during holidays. The DOL released Opinion Letter FMLA2023-2-A: Whether Holidays Count Against an Employee’s FMLA Leave Entitlement and Determination of the Amount of Leave. When employees take FMLA leave intermittently (e.g., an hour at a time, a reduced work schedule, etc.), their 12-week FMLA leave entitlement is reduced in proportion to the employee’s actual workweek. For example, if an employee who works 40 hours per week takes 8 hours of FMLA leave in a week, the employee has used one-fifth of a week of FMLA leave. However, if the same employee takes off 8 hours during a week that includes a holiday (and is therefore a 32-hour week), has the employee used one-fourth of a week of FMLA leave? Not surprisingly, the DOL said no. The one day off is still only one-fifth of a regular week. So, the employee has still only used one-fifth of a week of FMLA leave. Review the blog post for options to instead track leave by the hour, which could make things easier.
Alabama interestingly passed a law, effective January 1, 2024, that exempts employees’ overtime pay from the 5% Alabama income tax. In this blog post, we discussed the new exemption. It is an effort to incentivize hourly employees to work overtime, especially in light of recent staffing shortages and shift coverage issues. The bill currently places no cap on how much overtime pay is eligible for the exemption, but it allows the Legislature to extend and/or revise the exemption during the Spring 2025 regular session. If you have employees in Alabama, be sure to contact your payroll department or vendor to ensure compliance with this exemption.
As always, consult your legal counsel with any questions about these topics or other legal issues. See you in 2024!