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What Do I Need to Know for October?

September 14, 2019

Paid Family and Medical Leave: Massachusetts

 

 

If you're a Massachusetts employer with a workforce of any size, you're required to begin withholding Paid Family and Medical Leave contributions from covered individuals' wages beginning October 1, 2019. This is the pay date on or after October 1, not the pay period beginning October 1.  

 

Your contribution responsibilities depend on your average number of covered individuals from the last calendar year (January 1 - December 31). All employers are required to submit contributions on behalf of their covered individuals while larger employers may also be responsible for paying a share of the required contributions. If you have not yet notified your covered workers, you have until September 30.  More information is available at the Department of Family & Medical Leave website.

 

Medicare Part D Coverage Notices: A

 

Medical plan sponsors that offer prescription drug coverage must provide notices of "creditable" or "non-creditable" coverage to Medicare-eligible individuals before each year's Medicare Part D annual enrollment period by Oct. 15. Prescription drug coverage is creditable when it is at least actuarially equivalent to Medicare's standard Part D coverage and non-creditable when it does not provide, on average, as much coverage as Medicare's standard Part D plan.The notice obligation is not limited to retirees and their dependents covered by the employers' plan, but also includes Medicare-eligible active employees and their dependents and Medicare-eligible COBRA participants and their dependents.

 

The notice must be provided to all Medicare-eligible individuals who are covered under, or eligible for, the sponsor's prescription drug plan, regardless of whether the plan pays primary or secondary to Medicare. Thus, the notice obligation is not limited to retirees and their dependents but also includes Medicare-eligible active employees and their dependents and Medicare-eligible COBRA participants and their dependents.

 

Supreme Court and Title VII: Nation

 

Since 2015, the EEOC has taken the position that discrimination on the basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression were violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and in 2016 filed the first lawsuits alleging sex discrimination on this basis.  On October 8, the Supreme Court will hear three cases (two of which are consolidated) to determine whether Title VII protections do extend to sexual orientation, gender identity and transgender status as protected classes.

 

 21 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination in private employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and one additional state (Wisconsin) prohibits discrimination in private employment based on sexual orientation.  Additionally 10 more states without explicit prohibition against sexual orientation and/or gender identity statutes are in a federal circuit with a ruling that explicitly interprets existing federal prohibition on sex discrimination.

 

The cases are Bostock v. Clayton Co., Georgia, Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home v. EEOC.

 

Religious Accommodations: New York

 

In August, New York Governor Cuomo signed an amendment to state law which expressly prohibits discrimination against employees based on clothing or facial hair worn in accordance with the employee’s religion. The amendment is set to take effect October 8, 2019. 

 

This amendment prohibits an employer from taking any discriminatory action against an employee – including refusing to hire, retain, or promote – for wearing any clothing, attire or facial hair associated with the requirements of the employee’s religion. The employer bears the burden to demonstrate that it cannot reasonably accommodate the employee’s religious practice without undue hardship to the business. These protections were arguably in place with the already covered under the state’s anti-discrimination laws, however this amendment further makes clear the prohibition.

 

Minimum Wage Increases: Delaware

 

Delaware's minimum wage rose 50 cents in October 2018, from $8.25 to $8.75. The law will increase that number again in October 2019 to $9.25. Delaware has a multi-tiered minimum wage which includes different rates for a "youth rate" and a "training rate." The poster can be found here.

 

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