Employment Laws to Watch in 2017

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Employment Laws to Watch in 2017

With a change in administration just around the corner, President-Elect Trump’s priorities are starting to take shape. What can we anticipate for 2017? It is still too early to forecast what the upcoming year will bring, but here are five employment areas to keep your eye on in the months ahead.
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DOL Proposes to Revise FMLA Definition of "Spouse"

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By March 2014 the Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor (DOL) will issue a proposal to revise the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) definition of “spouse” based on the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, the agency promised in its Nov. 26, 2013, regulatory guidance.

In Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined “marriage” and “spouse,” was unconstitutional. The court said: “The principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage. This requires the court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.”

Windsor does not obligate states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, which can be confusing for employers. “It is possible—and preferable from my perspective—that the DOL do away with this confusion and implement a ‘place of celebration’ rule, which would mean the DOL no longer looks to state of residence but to whether the same-sex marriage was valid where performed. This would be a big departure from the current regulations but resolve the challenges employers face in implementing constantly changing state recognition rules.”

Supreme Court Case Update

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The Supreme Court issued three decisions in July, 2013 that affect employers. Here are the details your organization needs to know about the Court's rulings.

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor on June 26th, 2013. Specifically, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, deemed that section 3 in DOMA is unconstitutional as it deprives individuals of equal liberty protected in the Fifth Amendment.
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Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Reform Law

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On June 28th, 2012, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court that the individual mandate portion of the health care reform law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), which requires that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine, is constitutional as a tax.

The Court agreed that while Congress could not use its power to regulate commerce between states to require individuals to buy health insurance, Congress could impose a tax penalty using its tax power for individuals who refuse to buy health insurance.

Because the mandate is constitutional, the Court did not need to determine whether other parts of the law were constitutional, according to the SCOTUS Blog.

The individual mandate was set to be implemented in 2014, however, many provisions of the health care reform law had already gone into effect in 2012. The ruling suggests that employers will still be responsible for the carrying out the provisions of the law which affect their organizations.

For more information about the Supreme Court decision, please visit the links below.

Source: SCOTUS Blog