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Internal pay audits are rarely enjoyable. Depending on the scope, these audits can be complex and require detailed analysis.  However, in the current legal climate, an internal audit can be extremely valuable and greatly reduce, or even eliminate, potential liability for wage and hour claims as well as pay equity claims.  As previously reported on this blog, increased scrutiny into pay equity discrimination, changes in EEO-1 reporting requirements, the Department of Labor’s joint employment efforts, and the updated FLSA exemption rules continue to place companies at greater risk of government audits, fines, and lawsuits.

Many employers may have already reviewed and updated their policies in anticipation of the changes to the “white collar” FLSA exemptions, which go into effect on December 1, 2016. But if your company has not yet done so, or to the extent you have not conducted a more comprehensive internal audit, your company should strongly consider doing so as soon as possible for several reasons.
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Earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board issued a memorandum announcing the steps it will take to report complaints alleged against federal contractor employers in order to comply with the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order 13673.  In doing so, the NLRB became the first government agency to implement reporting procedures under the Executive Order, though regulations have not been finalized.  Noteworthy, it appears the NLRB will use the Executive Order’s reporting requirements as a pressure point to further encourage the early settlement of complaints filed against companies.  While it remains to be seen exactly how the Executive Order’s “blacklisting” procedures will impact federal contractors, it is important that companies understand the potential impact of the Executive Order and the planned procedures of the various administrative agencies, including the NLRB, to comply with the Executive Order.
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Leave accommodations can be a complicated issue for a company’s human resources and legal teams.  The EEOC, however, recently issued guidance discussing leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The guidance serves as a good reference on the EEOC’s stance on several complex accommodation issues, and clarifies the EEOC’s views on equal access to leave, granting additional unpaid leave as an accommodation, and maximum leave policies.  In light of the recent guidance, now is a good time to review your company policies.
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With the recent revisions to OSHA’s Field Operations Manual that, among other changes, allow for increased penalties and grant inspectors greater discretion, it is more important than ever for companies to know what to do when OSHA comes knocking.  OSHA has made it extremely easy for employees to lodge complaints and has been concentrating efforts on raising employee awareness – both of which increase the likelihood of an inspection.  OSHA has also made it clear that the oil and gas industry is an agency priority and companies within that industry can expect heightened scrutiny.  Regardless of your past experience with OSHA, knowing how to handle an inspection will help make the process as smooth (and citation-free) as possible.
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We would like to ensure our readers are aware of a blog published by our Canadian colleagues:  “Canadian Labour and Employment Law.”  If your organization has operations anywhere in Canada, we expect you will find this blog to be informative and practical.  Click here to see for yourself.

With oil prices not yet making the recovery that most Texas companies had hoped, many businesses are facing subsequent layoffs.  As most companies know, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires 60-days’ advance written notice of certain “plant closings” and “mass layoffs.”  Frequently overlooked, however, is when a subsequent RIF may trigger WARN’s notice obligations.  Companies must be careful of these rules so as not to spark litigation or incur the costly penalties associated with a WARN violation.
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For many, Texas brings to mind images of cowboy boots, belt buckles, and, of course, oil.  Unfortunately, the collapse of oil prices has forced many companies in Texas to cut labor costs through reductions in force.  Conducting a RIF, while attempting to avoid future liability, can raise a variety of questions.  How do we choose which employees to include in the RIF?  What notices must we give to employees?  What do we need to consider when issuing final pay?  Do we need to provide employees with severance?
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