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LABOR-FRIENDLY MOVES BY EEOC, OTHER AGENCIES PRESENT EMPLOYERS WITH MOUNTING CHALLENGES, SAYS LECLAIRRYAN ATTORNEY

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LABOR-FRIENDLY MOVES BY EEOC, OTHER AGENCIES PRESENT EMPLOYERS WITH MOUNTING CHALLENGES, SAYS LECLAIRRYAN ATTORNEY

Stepped-up investigations, proposed rule changes could pressure businesses , Charlie Meyer warns in recent blog

Charlie Meyer

Charlie Meyer

Employers should be prepared to face an onslaught of labor and employment law changes in 2016, cautions Charlie Meyer, a shareholder in national law firm LeClairRyan’s Richmond office. From large-scale Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigations, to changes in minimum wage and overtime protections, several emerging cases in 2016 could change the business landscape, writes Meyer in a recent blog post at EPLI Risk, which focuses on employment practices liability insurance, Directors and Officers liability insurance, and related issues.

According to Meyer, the most significant change may be the EEOC’s continued push for large-scale, or “systemic,” investigations of workplace bias, rather than individual investigations. “Building on its momentum from its win in the high-profile U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding religious accommodation in the workplace, the EEOC is expected to push through broad investigations into areas such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and pregnancy bias claims,” he says.

Such systemic investigations are far more likely to result in litigation, Meyer warns. “This expanded focus means that employers should review their policies and be ready to readjust to defend against increased EEOC scrutiny,” he writes.

Another challenge stems from Miller & Anderson Inc., a case before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is likely to be decided in 2016 and could bolster unions’ ability to organize bargaining units.

Under the current standard, employers must consent before unions can try to organize bargaining units that include both workers solely employed by the company and joint-employers workers, like those supplied by staffing firms. “But if the Board abandons the employer consent requirement, it could allow only one of the companies to assent to a collective bargaining agreement that would affect all workers — both from the staffing agency as well as those employed solely by the user company,” says Meyer. “The effect? Unions are more likely to win collective bargaining disputes because of the expanded definition of the bargaining unit.”

Other matters of concern include Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo et al., a wage and hour lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court, that asks whether courts can certify class and collective actions that cover non-injured members. The outcome “will have a significant impact on the continued viability of class or collective actions to decide wage and hour lawsuits, as well as the size of classes bringing employment-related claims under the FLSA, Equal Pay Act and Title VII,” according to Meyer.

Social media issues should also be on employers’ radar, “especially in light of the NLRB’s ruling last year that Facebook ‘likes’ constitute protected activity,” he adds. “Now this year, the EEOC is joining the fray and is expected to scrutinize employer restrictions of employees’ social media use. Employers should shore up their social media policies to strike a balance between lawful restrictions on employee social media conduct, without crossing the line to unlawfully resisting your employees’ protected activity.”

Another item to watch is a Fifth Circuit challenge to the NLRB’s April rule streamlining the union election process. Among other changes, it eliminated a 25-day delay between the time a regional director initiates an election and the election itself, thereby delaying the employer’s challenges to voter eligibility issues until after the election is held. “The change has been dubbed the ‘ambush election’ rule because it gives unions a mechanism to quickly gain representation, before management is able to mount an effective challenge,” writes Meyer, adding that the outcome of this appeal could have a “heavy impact on unionized employers’ future ability to challenge NLRB elections.”

Employers should also be watching a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposal to amend the rules governing overtime for salaried workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The DOL’s proposed changes would more than double the salary threshold for mandatory overtime coverage, from the $23,660 to $50,440.

“If the rules are revised as anticipated, this year about 5 million more American employees may be eligible for overtime wages — and, as a result, employer payrolls and personnel expenses will balloon,” Meyer warns. “Employers should prepare for the potential impact of the new rules, including considering reducing employee hours to trim overtime costs, restructuring your workforce salaries to minimize exempt workers, reclassifying workers as non-exempt, and enforcing stricter rules prohibiting overtime.”

Business

Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support – The Sunday Times

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Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support - The Sunday Times 1

(Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak is set to increase a tax on business to pay for an extension to COVID-19 support schemes in the budget next month, The Sunday Times reported https://bit.ly/3ujaBcU.

Sunak, in his speech on March 3, will announce he is increasing corporation tax from 19 pence in the pound and will outline a pathway where it rises to 23 pence in the pound by the time of the next general election, the report said. The move will raise an expected 12 billion pounds ($16.8 billion) a year, the report added.

According to the report, at least 1 pence is set to be added to the bill for business from this autumn, at a cost to business of 3 billion pounds, with further rises in subsequent years.

Allies of Sunak clarified he would not increase corporation tax higher than 23%.

These measures will be helpful in paying for an extension to the furlough scheme, VAT cuts and business support loans until at least August.

Unlike the 2010 Conservative-led government, which pursued spending cuts to rebalance the economy after the global financial crisis, Sunak is expected to defer most of the toughest decisions about how to pay for that support in his budget speech.

“The corporation tax hike will be higher than expected and the extension of the support schemes will be longer than most people expect,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

Insiders indicated the stamp duty holiday on property purchases would also be extended in line with the other coronavirus support measures, the report said.

Britain’s economy had its biggest slump in 300 years in 2020, when it contracted by 10%, and will shrink by 4% in the first three months of 2021, the Bank of England predicts.

($1 = 0.7136 pounds)

 

(Reporting by Vishal Vivek in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

 

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Foxconn chairman says expects “limited impact” from chip shortage on clients

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Foxconn chairman says expects "limited impact" from chip shortage on clients 2

TAIPEI (Reuters) – The chairman of Apple Inc supplier Foxconn said on Saturday he expects his company and its clients will face only “limited impact” from a chip shortage that has rattled the global automotive and semiconductor industries.

“Since most of the customers we serve are large customers, they all have proper precautionary planning,” said Liu Young-way, chairman of the manufacturing conglomerate formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd

“Therefore, the impact on these large customers is there, but limited,” he told reporters.

Liu said he expected the company to do well in the first half of 2021, “especially as the pandemic is easing and demand is still being sustained.”

The global spread of COVID-19 has increased demand for laptops, gaming consoles, and other electronics. This caused chip manufacturers to reallocate capacity away from the automotive sector, which was expecting a steep downturn.

Now, car manufacturers such as Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have cut output as chip capacity has shrunk.

Counterpoint Research says the shortage has extended to the smartphone sector, with application processors, display driver chips, and power management chips all facing a crunch.

However, the research firm predicts Apple will face a minimal impact, due to its large size and its suppliers’ tendency to prioritise it. Apple is Foxconn’s largest customer.

Foxconn is looking at other areas for growth, including in electric vehicles (EVs), and Liu said their EV development platform MIH now had 736 partner companies participating.

He expected it would have two or three models to show by the fourth quarter, though did not expect EVs to make an obvious contribution to company earnings until 2023.

Liu also said the company was still looking for semiconductor fab purchase opportunities in Southeast Asia after not winning a bid to take over a stake in Malaysia-based 8-inch foundry house Silterra.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Jeanny Kao; Writing by Josh Horwitz; Editing by William Mallard and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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EU seeks alliance with U.S. on climate change, tech rules

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EU seeks alliance with U.S. on climate change, tech rules 3

By Sabine Siebold and Kate Abnett

BERLIN (Reuters) – Europe and the United States should join forces in the fight against climate change and agree on a new framework for the digital market, limiting the power of big tech companies, European Union chief executive Ursula von der Leyen said.

“I am sure: A shared transatlantic commitment to a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050 would make climate neutrality a new global benchmark,” the president of the European Commission said in a speech at the virtual Munich Security Conference on Friday.

“Together, we could create a digital economy rulebook that is valid worldwide: a set of rules based on our values, human rights and pluralism, inclusion and the protection of privacy.”

The EU has pledged to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, while President Joe Biden has committed the United States to become a “net zero economy” by 2050.

Scientists say the world must reach net zero emissions by 2050 to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times and avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

The hope is that a transatlantic alliance could help persuade large emitters who have yet to commit to this timeline – including China, which is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060, and India.

“The United States is our natural partner for global leadership on climate change,” von der Leyen said.

She called the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol a turning point for the discussion on the impact social media has on democracies.

“Of course, imposing democratic limits on the uncontrolled power of big tech companies alone will not stop political violence,” von der Leyen said. “But it is an important step.”

She was referring to a draft set of rules unveiled in December which aims to rein in tech companies that control troves of data and online platforms relied on by thousands of companies and millions of Europeans for work and social interactions.

They show the European Commission’s frustration with its antitrust cases against the tech giants, notably Alphabet Inc’s Google, which critics say have not addressed the problem.

But they also risk inflaming tensions with Washington, already irked by Brussels’ attempts to tax U.S. tech firms more.

Von der Leyen said Facebook’s decision on a news blackout on Thursday in response to a forthcoming Australian law requiring it and Google to share revenue from news underscored the importance of a global approach to dealing with tech giants.

(Additional reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Robin Emmott and Nick Macfie; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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