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Merit Resources Acquires Portico Staffing

Des Moines Register (12/23/15)

West Des Moines, IA-based professional employer organization Merit Resources has acquired Des Moines, IA-based staffing firm Portico Staffing. The transaction will become effective Dec. 28.

Jobless Claims Fall Again, Near Lowest Level in Decades

MarketWatch (12/24/15) Jeffry Bartash

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits declined by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 in the week ended Dec. 19, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast claims of 270,000. The four-week average of claims rose by 1,750 to 272,500, near a 15-year low.

Staffing Today Returns Dec. 28

In observance of Christmas, ASA headquarters will be closed Friday, Dec. 25. Staffing Today will return Monday, Dec. 28.

What’s Trending on ASA Central Right Now

ASA Central—the dynamic online community just for staffing professionals—is home to more than 20,000 staffing professional profiles and countless ongoing industry conversations.

Here’s what your colleagues are talking about right now on ASA Central:
  • Affordable Care Act compliance for insurance that renews after Jan. 1
  • Compensation benchmarks for corporate staff
  • Criminal background checks
Join these conversations, start new discussions, engage your colleagues, and make valuable connections. Log in to ASA Central now.

To learn more about ASA Central, including how to update your personal profile, access the free ASA On-Demand webinar recording of “Connect With Your Community Using ASA Central” and learn how to make the most of this exclusive resource.

Welcome New ASA Members

The ASA board of directors and staff welcome the following new members, which joined during the week ending Dec. 20.

Engenium Staffing Inc.
Orlando, FL

NorCal Staffing Group
Campbell, CA

NR Inc. Professional Staffing
Lexington, CT

Prime CDL Solutions
San Antonio, TX

Boardman, OH

Vanguard Business Services Ltd.
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Hawaii Unemployment Tax to Drop 26% in 2016

Honolulu Star-Advertiser (12/23/15) Kathryn Mykleseth

Unemployment insurance rates will decline an average of 26% in 2016, according to the Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relation. Companies will pay $50 million less in taxes in 2016, or $100 less per employee on average.

North Carolina Governor Signs Executive Order on Worker Misclassification

Insurance Journal (12/23/15)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed an executive order to create a new office within the State Industrial Commission, which will be led by a director. The new office will receive complaints about possible employee misclassification and expects to get help from several agencies to investigate and enforce current law discouraging the practice. The director also will work on ways to combat employee misclassification through education efforts and potential legislation.

Addressing Workplace Discrimination Against Vulnerable Communities

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (12/23/15)

In the wake of tragic events at home and abroad, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is urging employers and employees to be particularly mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace against vulnerable communities. To that end, EEOC has released two resource documents, in question-and-answer format, explaining federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination against individuals who are, or are perceived to be, Muslim or Middle Eastern. One Q&A is for employees, and the other is for employers. The Q&As assist employers and employees in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the federal laws enforced by EEOC.

Questions and Answers for Employers: Responsibilities Concerning the Employment of Individuals Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern includes information about and examples of employer actions that may constitute discrimination on the basis of religion, race, or national origin. This technical assistance document also identifies steps employers can take to prevent and correct discrimination in the workplace.

Questions and Answers for Employees: Workplace Rights of Employees Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern explains federal protections against discrimination based on religion, race, or national origin in hiring, discharge, and other terms of employment. This technical assistance document also explains the prohibition against harassment and gives examples of religious accommodation in the workplace.

Key Things to Know About Federal and New York Wage and Hour Laws for 2016

Lexology (12/22/15) Darrell S. Gay; Temitope K. Yusuf; Meera Chandramouli

Employers should be aware of several changes to wage and hour laws, both at the federal level and in New York. The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act that will increase the annual salary levels required for employees to be eligible for exemption from $23,600, or $455 per week, to $50,440, or $970 per week, with the final rule expected as early as Jan. 1, 2016. Additionally, the DC Circuit Court upheld DOL’s regulations applying the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime protections to workers who provide home care for the elderly and disabled.

In New York, the minimum wage will rise to $9 per hour on Dec. 31; the minimum wage for tipped employees in the hospitality industry will rise to $7.50 per hour and $12 per hour for overtime, effective Dec. 31; and the minimum wage will rise on the same date to $10.50 per hour for fast food workers in New York City and $9.75 per hour elsewhere in the state. New York employers also must be aware of amendments to the Wage Theft Prevention Act; new requirements for paying employees by check, direct deposit, and payroll debit cards; and the extension of the New York Wage Deduction Law until Nov. 6, 2018.

Fifth Circuit Rules That Denial of Employee’s Attempt to Rescind Resignation Can Be Unlawful Retaliation

Lexology (12/15/15) Steven W. Jados

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruling is unique in that it held that an employer’s refusal to let an employee rescind her resignation can be an “adverse employment action”—one of the three prima facie elements of a claim for unlawful retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Porter v. Houma Terrebonne Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, the employee at issue, Tyrikia Porter, tendered her resignation and before her last day of work, testified in a grievance hearing that she had been sexually harassed by HTHA’s executive director. Management encouraged her to rescind her resignation prior to and after the hearing.

Shortly after her resignation date, Porter sent HTHA a letter asking to rescind her resignation, but the executive director refused her request. The court stressed that the context of the refusal was critical to its decision and that it was reasonable for Porter to believe that she would be allowed to rescind her resignation. The ruling is a clear warning that mixed messages from management and deviations from prior practices may give rise to unlawful retaliation claims.

Hair Testing Guidelines Coming Within a Year for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers

Lexology (12/11/15) Kathryn J. Russo

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, signed into effect on Dec. 4, among other things directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue scientific and technical guidelines for the use of hair testing for drugs for commercial motor vehicle drivers within one year of enactment of the act. Once DHHS has done so, motor carriers regulated by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be allowed to use hair testing for drugs for pre-employment purposes as well as for random drug tests, if the driver was subject to the testing for pre-employment purposes. The law exempts drivers with established religious beliefs that prohibit the cutting or removal of hair.

Judge Rejects Pittsburgh, PA, Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Associated Press (12/23/15)

A judge has struck down a Pittsburgh, PA, ordinance that would have required companies to provide paid sick leave to their workers, calling it “invalid and unenforceable.”

Florida Supreme Court Won’t Review Workers’ Compensation System’s Constitutionality

Business Insurance (12/23/15) Stephanie Goldberg

The Florida Supreme Court has declined to accept jurisdiction of the State of Florida v. Florida Workers’ Advocates et al. case that questions whether workers’ compensation is an adequate exclusive remedy for injured workers. A three-judge panel in Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal unanimously reversed Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto’s August 2014 ruling that declared the state’s workers’ compensation system unconstitutional because changes made to it mean it no longer provides “an adequate exclusive replacement remedy” in place of common-law torts.

The Supreme Court stated that the intervening plaintiffs in the case, which included Florida Workers’ Advocates, the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and Elsa Padgett, an injured Miami-Dade County worker, lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Florida statute that establishes workers’ compensation as an exclusive remedy.

Over One Million Candidates Use Social Media Profiles to Apply for Jobs

PR Newswire (12/23/15)

More than one million people in the third quarter of 2015 used their social media profiles to apply for jobs, according to a report from iCIMS Inc., a provider of software-as-a-service talent acquisition solutions. The report is based on an analysis of iCIMS’ customer base data of approximately 4,500 organizations. The computer services industry had the highest percentage of applications submitted via social networks, while the hospital and securities industries had the lowest percentage of applications submitted via social networks.

The gaming industry received the most applicants per open position in the third quarter. The leisure, telecommunications, food and beverage, and energy industries also had more applicants than needed to fill open positions. Transportation and distribution employees remain in high demand, consistent with previous quarters in 2015.