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Informed Employer: August 30, 2017 Informed Employer: August 30, 2017

Informed Employer: August 30, 2017

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Judge Orders EEOC to Reconsider Rules for Wellness Programs
A federal court threw out a rule allowing employers to call their workplace wellness programs "voluntary" when employees stand to lose thousands of dollars for not participating -- a win for groups that challenged what they argue are coercive programs that have not been shown to improve employees' health. The ruling, a summary judgment for the group that challenged the federal rule, orders the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to come up with a "reasoned explanation" for deeming workplace wellness programs voluntary even if the programs impose steep penalties on workers who opt out, calling the absence of such an explanation when the EEOC issued its rule last year "a serious failing."
(Source: STAT, 2017-08-23) Read the full article
EEOC Says Strength Tests Biased Against Female Job Applicants
Are physical ability tests that measure strength and endurance naturally biased against female job applicants? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- which recently sued CSX Transportation for sex discrimination over requiring job applicants to pass physical tests -- believes so, when the testing has a disparate impact on women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(Source: SHRMOnline, 2017-08-24) Read the full article
OSHA Removes Data on Worker Fatalities from Website Homepage
The federal department charged with protecting workers erased data on workplace deaths from the home page of its website -- and changed its policy to disclose fewer fatal accidents in the future. For the past several years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had maintained a running list of workers killed on the job -- including the date, name and cause of death -- near the top of its home page.
(Source: Politico, 2017-08-25) Read the full article
Workers Expected to Spend $5,200 in Health Care Costs in 2018
An annual analysis by Aon shows out-of-pocket costs and increases in "medical inflation" will increase average health costs for employees by 7.2%, slightly ahead of this year’s 6.9% increases. That brings the employee's share of the employer cost including premiums and out-of-pocket expense to $5,248 in 2018, compared with $4,895 this year.
(Source:, 2017-08-23) Read the full article
Employers Starting to Address How Workers are Getting Health Care
As health care costs continue to rise, employers are increasingly examining how their employees are getting their health care, rather than simply trying to shift costs to them, according to a survey by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). Large employers continue to pursue traditional strategies like cost-sharing and plan design changes, but as health benefit costs are projected to top $14,000 per employee in 2018, there is a growing focus on how this health care is delivered and paid for, according to the Large Employers' 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, the latest edition of a study NBGH performs annually.
(Source:, 2017-08-17) Read the full article
Employers Looking for Ways to Help Workers Deal with Depression
According to marketing research firm, Ipsos, 75 percent of workers with depression keep their diagnoses from their employers for fear of losing their jobs. More managers are now encouraging workers suffering from depression to take time off, engage in relaxing activities and to focus on getting treatment, says WTOP, citing a Wall Street Journal report.
(Source: HR Dive, 2017-08-18) Read the full article
25% of Employee Thefts Involve Loses Over $1M, 29% Take 5 Years
Nearly 25 percent of employee thefts involve large-scale losses of more than $1 million and 29 percent are carried out over five or more years. According to a study on embezzlement by specialist insurer Hiscox, high-loss cases often result from schemes that repeatedly divert small sums of money over time, making them difficult to detect.
(Source: Insurance Journal, 2017-08-24) Read the full article
Solar Eclipse Cost Employers $694 Million in Lost Productivity
According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the solar eclipse cost employers an estimated $694 million in lost productivity. Challenger says that while the eclipse itself only lasted 2½ minutes, the time it takes employees to gather their eclipse viewing materials and find a spot to view the celestial event could have taken up to 20 minutes.
(Source: HR Daily Advisor, 2017-08-28) Read the full article
Employers Turning to Temp Workers to Evade Immigration Scrutiny
From Alabama poultry plants to Utah hotels, employers who want to hire unauthorized workers -- or to escape accountability for their poor treatment of legal workers -- appear to be turning to temp agencies and other labor contractors to evade scrutiny. The practice is especially prevalent in Western and Southern states which require private employers to use E-Verify, a federal online service, to confirm that their employees are legal residents.
(Source: Tucson Sentinel, 2017-08-17) Read the full article
Is the EEOC "Measly" Confused About Mandatory Employee Flu Vaccinations?

Paul Sinclair & Michael Blickman

As the kids head back to school and the leaves begin to change, we know flu season is just around the corner and so are flu shots. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying to limit health care organizations from requiring all employees to get flu shots. And it’s going to federal court to do it.

On Aug. 7, 2017, a federal judge in North Carolina denied Mission Hospital’s motion for summary judgment on the EEOC’s claim that the hospital discriminated against three workers by firing them for refusing mandatory flu shots. Each of these employees refused the vaccination due to his or her religious beliefs.

The EEOC sued Mission Hospital of Asheville, N.C., in April of 2016 alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The hospital claimed that it did accommodate religious objections (and had done so many times before), but these three workers failed to meet a September 1 deadline to request an exemption from the hospital’s mandatory vaccination policy. According to the hospital, these employees were terminated, because they failed to make a timely accommodation request and then refused the flu vaccine. The EEOC asserted that the hospital’s September 1 deadline for requesting an accommodation was arbitrary and "an arbitrary deadline does not protect an employer from its obligation to provide a religious accommodation." In other words, the EEOC's position is that Mission Hospital should have permitted the employees to remain employed despite the fact they ignored the well-publicized exemption filing deadline.

Read more here.


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Jenifer Brown & Christl Glier

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