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MEGA GROUP ONLINE CLOSED MONDAY, MAY 25TH

 

Mega Group Online will be closed on Monday, May 25th in observance of Memorial Day. We will resume normal operating hours on Tuesday, May 26th.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

LA CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO RAISE MINIMUM WAGE TO $15.00 BY 2020

“The City Council has voted in favor, 14-2, to increase Los Angeles’ minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years.

The council met at 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the proposal, which was unanimously approved on May 13 by its Economic Development Committee. It’s the first of two votes needed to finalize the bill.

“Today, help is on the way for one million Angelenos who live in poverty,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “I started this campaign to raise the minimum wage to create broader economic prosperity in our city, and because the minimum wage should not be a poverty wage in Los Angeles.”

Officials explained increases will take place on the first of July of each year. Beginning in 2016, the minimum wage will go from $9 per hour to $10.50 an hour.

The rate will then jump to $12 in 2017; $13.25 in 2018; $14.25 in 2019; and $15.00 by 2020.

“There is no question in my mind that better pay for workers would provide myriad benefits,” Councilman Mitchell Englander said. “I am not, however, convinced that a unilateral minimum-wage increase serves the intended purpose and may, worse, have unintended consequences such as job loss, reduction in working hours, or make it impossible for entire industries to do business in the City of Los Angeles.”

For small businesses with 25 or fewer employees, each of the dates will be moved back by one year.

Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, said he feels the L.A. minimum-wage hike will hurt businesses, but “the battle is over.”

In Atwater Village, Andy Hasroun owns and operates a restaurant and wine shop with 15 employees. The spot is doing great business and Hasroun sometimes finds himself working 16-hour shifts.

Hasroun says the measure will put him at a huge disadvantage when it comes to nearby competitors in Glendale, just outside the L.A. city line. “For now, we are already looking at…moving to Glendale. We’re looking into it right now, as we speak.”

In L.A., 800,000 people live below the poverty line and 500,000 workers earn minimum wage.

Bryan also spoke with 18-year-old student Gamaliel Martinez. He says his low-wage family barely earns enough to pay the rent and feed nine children. He says raising the minimum wage could have a tremendous impact on his family and his own life.

“I really want to be a general doctor, even though it might take 10 years. So if the City Council votes to raise up the minimum wage that could help me out for my college,” Martinez said.

He says the bill offers hope to low-earning families who aspire towards the American Dream. “If they can raise the wages it would help a lot of lives and a lot of parents, mostly the future youth.”

Other cities, such as San Francisco and Seattle, have passed plans similar to the proposal.”

 

 

Originally posted by CBS Los Angeles. Article can be found at http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2015/05/19/city-council-to-vote-on-15-minimum-wage-increase/

New Virginia Law Restricts Employer Access to Employees’ Social Media Accounts

“Add the Commonwealth of Virginia to the ever-growing list of states (now 19) that have enacted legislation to restrict an employer’s ability to seek access to current employees’ or job applicants’ social media accounts.  Signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe on March 23, 2015, the new legislation, H.B. 2081, will take effect on July 1, 2015.  Employers with operations in Virginia should take notice of the new restrictions, and make any necessary adjustments over the coming months.

The Restrictions

The new Virginia law prohibits public and private employers, of all shapes and sizes, from:

  • Requiring that employees and applicants disclose their social media usernames and passwords,
  • Requiring that employees and applicants add the employer, supervisor or administrator to the list of contacts associated with the account (i.e. you can’t make your employees “friend” you – thereby allowing you to see their complete profile); or
  • Taking action against, threatening to discharge, disciplining, or “otherwise penaliz[ing]” current employees and/or failing or refusing to hire applicants who don’t provide their social media information.

Like similar laws in other states, the Virginia law has a fairly expansive definition of “social media account,” covering any “personal account with an electronic medium or service where users may create, share, or view user-generated content, including, without limitation, videos, photographs, blogs, podcasts, messages, emails, or website profiles or locations.”  Because of the breadth of the definition, employers should safely assume that an employee’s account is a covered “social media account.”

What Isn’t Restricted

Thankfully, the new law is not as sweepingly broad as password-privacy laws in other states and contains some common sense exclusions that allow employers to continue to run investigations and enforce workplace policies.

For example, employers are not prevented from seeking information or access to social media accounts as part of legitimate, formal workplace investigations.  Specifically, employers may request that an employee provide his or her log-in information “if the employee’s social media account activity is reasonably believed to be relevant to a formal investigation or related proceeding by the employer of allegations of an employee’s violation of federal, state, or local laws or regulations or of the employer’s written policies.”  Similarly, the Virginia law does not stand in the way of an employer’s ability to otherwise generally comply with federal or state laws, rules or regulations.

The law also permits employers to view on-line information about employees or applicants that is “publicly available” and excuses those employers who inadvertently receive an employee’s information (e.g. through normal monitoring of employees on company networks). The law also specifically excludes from the definition of “social media accounts” those accounts that were set up on behalf of or at the request of the employer, or that were “set up by an employee to impersonate an employer.”

Recommendations

While the Virginia law does not explicitly restrict every avenue for circumventing an employee’s social media privacy settings, employers would be wise to train their managers and HR representatives to avoid any behavior that would violate the spirit of the new law.  Employers should not ask for, or seek access to, employee and/or applicant social media accounts unless there is a solid business justification that fits squarely within the exceptions provided. In addition, employers should note that just because an action may not violate this new statute, it does not insulate the employer from liability under the National Labor Relations Act or other employment laws. ”

 

Originally posted by JD Supra. Article can be found at http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-virginia-law-restricts-employer-78200/

New York City Bans Employers from Considering Consumer Credit

“On May 6, 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a bill barring employers in New York City from discriminating against employees and applicants based on their consumer credit histories. The exceptions to this new law are much more limited than the exceptions found in similar laws in other states. New York City employers need to review their employment policies to ensure that their employment policies and decisions do not give employees or applicants potential claims of “consumer credit history” discrimination.

With Few Exceptions, New York City Employers Are Prohibited From Using Consumer Credit Histories for Employment Purposes.

The new law amends the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to bar New York City employers from requesting, or relying upon, the consumer credit history of an applicant or employee for employment purposes, including hiring and compensation decisions. Specifically, the law provides:

[I]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to request or to use for employment purposes the consumer credit history of an applicant for employment or employee, or otherwise discriminate against an applicant or employee with regard to hiring, compensation, or the terms, conditions or privileges of employment based on the consumer credit history of the applicant or employee.”1

Notably, this new law extends protections with regard to consumer credit history beyond the protections afforded most other statuses protected by the NYCHRL: not only are employers prohibited from relying upon consumer credit histories to discriminate against applicants or employees, it now also violates the NYCHRL for an employer even to “request” an applicant’s or employee’s consumer credit history, unless one of the enumerated exceptions applies.

Most employers that include background checks as part of their application or post-offer hiring process for their operations outside of New York City must therefore now remove any consumer credit-related inquiries from their employment and hiring documentation and practices in New York City. Significantly, mere compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act notification and authorization requirements will not eliminate the need to follow the new requirements of the NYCHRL.

The definition of the term “consumer credit history” includes not only information obtained in a background check, but also information obtained directly from an applicant or employee:

“[C]onsumer credit history” means an individual’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, or payment history, as indicated by: (a) a consumer credit report; (b) credit score; or (c) information an employer obtains directly from the individual regarding (1) details about credit accounts, including the individual’s number of credit accounts, late or missed payments, charged-off debts, items in collections, credit limit, prior credit report inquiries, or (2) bankruptcies, judgments or liens. A consumer credit report shall include any written or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency that bears on a consumer’s creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity or credit history.

In a press release, the New York City Council explained the rationale for this new law:

Employers often use consumer credit information to make hiring decisions, despite the fact that there is little evidence linking an employee’s credit score or credit worthiness to job performance or trustworthiness. Credit checks may adversely affect those who have fallen behind on student loan payments, medical bills or have taken on other forms of consumer debt. Further, the use of credit checks for employment purposes has been shown to have a discriminatory impact on low-income communities and communities of color. They also have a disparate impact on women and victims of domestic violence.2

The law goes into effect on September 3, 2015, 120 days after enactment. The remedies for aggrieved applicants and employees are the same as those available to other discrimination plaintiffs under the New York City Human Rights Law: Aggrieved applicants and employees may either file a lawsuit for damages in court within three years of the alleged discrimination or file a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights within one year of the alleged discrimination. Remedies available to aggrieved applicants and employees include compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief.

The Exceptions

Many employers have reason to be concerned by this new law. Despite the policy concerns outlined in the New York City Council’s press release, there are many jobs for which a credit history check is a vital component of an employer’s efforts to protect itself against employee embezzlement and similar problems. Fortunately for employers, the new law does include some limited exceptions. Specifically, New York City employers may continue to request, and use, credit histories when making employment decisions for the following positions:

  • Positions for which state or federal law and regulations require the use of an employee’s credit history;
  • Law enforcement personnel;
  • Positions that require a background investigation by the New York Department of Investigation;
  • Positions in which an employee is required to be bonded under City, state or federal law;
  • Positions requiring security clearances;
  • Non-clerical positions that have regular access to trade secrets, intelligence information or national security information;
  • Positions having signatory authority over third-party funds or assets valued at $10,000 or more;
  • Positions involving a fiduciary responsibility to the employer with authority to enter financial agreements valued at $10,000 or more on behalf of the employer; and
  • Positions with regular duties that allow the employee to modify digital security systems to prevent the unauthorized use of the employer’s or a client’s networks or databases.

The law includes no generally applicable exception for employees working for financial institutions or employees with signatory or contract authority for amounts under $10,000. Similarly, in the absence of such signatory or contract authority, none of the exceptions allow credit checks for employees or applicants working in finance or payroll departments, even though these positions necessarily involve access to information and payment systems that may make it easier for employees to engage in embezzlement without detection. The law does, however, provide that employers are not precluded from requesting or receiving consumer credit history information pursuant to a lawful subpoena, court order or law enforcement investigation.”

 

Originally posted by JD Supra. Full article at http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-york-city-largely-bans-employers-fro-32016/

Accommodating Religious Dress in the Workplace

“As an employer, you strive to maintain a certain image for the benefit of your small business, while simultaneously accommodating employees in order to promote company morale. But what do you do when an employee’s religious practices conflict with workplace policies? Here’s what you need to know about your legal responsibilities and how you can keep your workplace safe, efficient, and accommodating.

Employee Rights

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq protects employees from discrimination in the workplace based on sincerely held religious beliefs. Briefly, Title VII prohibits:

  • Unfair treatment based on religion when it comes to hiring, training, benefits, promotions, and other aspects of employment;
  • The denial of accommodation for “sincerely held” religious practices, unless those practices would result in “undue hardship” for the employer;
  • Job segregation due to religion;
  • Harassment as a result of religious beliefs;
  • Retaliation toward the employee for requesting specific accommodations or for filing a discrimination charge.

So where does religious dress and grooming fit into Title VII? Basically, the law states that exceptions must be made for particular religious dress in workplace policies regarding appearance and grooming requirements, as long as it does not cause safety or legal concerns.

Employer Responsibilities

It all sounds good on paper, but how do you provide real solutions to religious practices in your day-to-day work life? Here are some ideas to help you provide an accommodating atmosphere for every individual in your company:

  • Ask questions early. Not being aware of the religious requirements of an employee can lead to a discrimination lawsuit. Under Title VII, it’s acceptable to ask employees enough questions to determine whether exceptions will need to be made to company policies due to religion. But, be careful how you ask those questions.
  • Seek compromise. Find out if there is a way for an employee to abide by their religious requirements while adhering to company policy. For example, if your employee must wear his hair long due to religion, but he works around food, ask if he is able to pull his hair back in order to stay within food safety regulations.
  • Make an exception when necessary. If there is no possible compromise and the religious requirement won’t cause undue hardship for your business, then you must accommodate the employee. This sometimes means making an exception to company policy.”

Originally posted by The Huffington Post. Full article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-jacoby/religious-dress-grooming-_b_7205904.html