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MAY 2019

 

In This Issue:

Supreme Court to Rule on Three Important Discrimination Cases

By Caitlin Egeck, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

On April 22, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced that it will rule on three cases this fall to determine whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), applies to sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace.

Title VII is a federal anti-discrimination law that prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Currently, there is a lot of inconsistency and confusion amongst federal lower courts as to whether Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SCOTUS’ ruling this fall would bring much needed clarity to this area of Title VII.

Two of the three cases SCOTUS is ruling on, Zarda vs. Altitude Express, Inc. and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, were consolidated because they both involve employer discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In Zarda, the Second Circuit concluded that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, which is in violation of Title VII. Conversely, in Bostock, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that sexual orientation discrimination is not a subset of sex discrimination and thus, not prohibited by Title VII.

The third case SCOTUS is ruling on, EEOC v. R.G. &. G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, involves transgender and transition status for employees. In this case, an employee who transitioned from male to female was terminated due to violating the employer’s dress code policy. The Sixth Circuit concluded that discrimination on the basis of an employee’s transgender status and an employee’s failure to conform to sex stereotypes was a violation of Title VII.

While we will not know the federal outcome of Title VII discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity until SCOTUS rules in the fall, it is important to remember that Oregon laws specifically prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With that, employers must comply with those prohibitions regardless of what is happening at the federal level.

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Member Saves 19% ($23,000) through Participation in Association’s Group Health Plan

By Gayle Gilham, President
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]
CSNW logo

With small and large group health insurance premiums continuing to rise, savvy employers look for ways to control costs while maintaining benefit value for their employees.

Challenge

One of Cascade Employers Association’s members, a small group in the manufacturing industry, was receiving poor service from their insurance broker and communication was not proactive. In addition, they were facing a 9% price increase to renew their existing plan.

Solution

The member reached out to explore Cascade’s sponsored group health insurance program (The Pacific Northwest Employers Life, Health Insurance Trust). The member provided their census, along with their current plan details. Within a week we followed up with an option for the member to maintain the same level of benefits while saving the group 19% off their current rates.

Cost Savings for Employer and Employees

In addition to the $23,000 company premium savings for 2019, employees continue to select from three medical plans, varying in cost with the base option saving employees approximately $41 off their monthly medical deduction and reducing the out of pocket maximum by $2350 (from $7350 to $5000).

How it Works

Since Cascade’s sponsored program is a large group, it has more power when it comes to health insurance plans, networks, and costs! Each member group is quoted separately while overall claims are shared across the entire Association, resulting in reduced risk. In addition, each member group can select multiple plans to offer employees so they can choose the level of coverage they need.

Top 4 Reasons to Consider Cascade’s Group Health Insurance Plan

■   Rates are based on overall claims of the Association, usually below market
■   Access to a large, statewide provider network
■   Great vision, dental and alternative care benefits (chiropractic, acupuncture,
     massage therapy)
■   Free online, paperless enrollment and enhanced customer service for your employees

Our benefit partner, CSNW Benefits, is the managing agent for The Pacific Northwest Employers Life, Health Insurance Trust. This partnership provides participants with expanded support for benefit compliance, difficult claim situations and employee education meetings.

In addition, you have access to a company-branded online benefits administration tool that will cutdown enrollment time and increase employee engagement – all at no additional cost! To learn how this program may fit your organization, contact Jules Abbott, [email protected], 503.542.4094, to make a phone appointment with a benefit advisor.

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Hot Compliance Question

By Caitlin Egeck, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

Question: I have an employee who is out on a workers' compensation claim. Can this time away be counted toward their FMLA and OFLA Leave?

Answer: Yes and no. Assuming the employee’s injury qualifies as a serious health condition, leave covered by a workers’ compensation claim can run concurrently with FMLA. However, under OFLA, this leave cannot be counted toward an employee’s OFLA entitlement.

On the other hand, if the employee on workers' compensation leave rejects a bona fide offer of light duty work, you can automatically deduct any time away against their OFLA entitlement.

Additionally, if you begin deducting time from an employee’s OFLA entitlement and later find that the employee’s leave is for an accepted workers' compensation claim, you must then go back and reinstate any OFLA time you deducted. The opposite is true if the claim is denied after the fact.

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HR Stats You Should Know

By Jenna Reed, Vice President, HR Services and General Counsel
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

225,000. That’s the number of “Social Security No-Match Letters” the current administration wants to send out to employers every two weeks.

“No-Match” letters may be sent to employers when information included on W-2s does not match the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) records. These letters have not been issued since 2012, but are now being issued on a regular basis.

Here are a few things you should know if your company receives a “no-match” letter:

  1. Compare the information on the letter to your employment records.
  2. Talk with the employee and let them know of the no-match letter and ask them to verify that your records are accurate. Keep in mind there are many reasons your records may not match the records of the SSA, such as a basic clerical error.
  3. Allow the employee a reasonable amount of time to correct the error and advise them to contact the SSA to begin the process.
  4. Once the information is updated, notify the SSA of the changes.
  5. DO NOT take any adverse action against an employee simply because of the no-match letter.

If you have questions regarding these letters or would like to speak to our compliance team, please contact us.

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EEO-1 Pay Data Deadline Confirmed for September 30

By Caitlin Egeck, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

As we previously alerted you, on March 04, 2019, a U.S. Federal District Court reinstated the 2016 EEO-1 summary pay data reporting requirements. With this ruling, employers who have 100 or more employees and most federal contractors with 50 or more employees are now required to submit pay data in addition to race, ethnicity and sex data through an EEO-1 Report annually.

The EEO-1 Report was opened on March 18, 2019, and the deadline for submission for all data was presumably May 31, 2019. However, on May 1, 2019, the EEOC confirmed that collection of 2017 and 2018 pay data, known as EEO-1 Component 2, will be due on September 30, 2019.

It is worth noting that the EEOC’s deadline for pay data collections does not change the deadline for race, ethnicity and sex data collections, known as EEO-1 Component 1. This deadline is still May 31, 2019.

Cascade will continue to monitor and update you on EEO-1 Pay Data news. If you have any questions, please let us know!

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Navigating Change

By Erin Bair, Director of Training and Organization Development
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

Change management has become one of the most popular trends in the workplace. In a recent study by the consultancy firm Duarte, 69% of executives surveyed said that they were planning to launch or were currently underway in a major change initiative. Sadly, half of the respondents said they hadn’t really taken their team’s sentiment into consideration regarding the change.

Should we then really be surprised that 70% of change initiatives fail? Since one of the most common complaints I hear in my change management classes is that, “some people don’t like change,” not-so-subtly throwing their people under the bus, it’s imperative that leaders understand the way individuals process change in order for a change initiative to be successful.

First, it’s helpful to recognize that whether or not someone is “good” at change depends on the change in question and how beneficial or harmful it is perceived by that person. The majority of the time when a leader laments that their employees are dragging their feet about a change it’s because underlying concerns haven’t been addressed. In addition, it’s helpful to refer to William Bridges’ Transition Model. Bridges distinguishes transition from change, as follows: change happens to us, transition is the internal processing of change. Change can happen quickly. Transition often takes time.

In the transition model, there are three stages: Ending, the Neutral Zone, and the New Beginning. While leaders are eager to skip straight to stage three, they will lose the support of their people if they don’t pay attention to the first two stages.

In the first stage, Endings, individuals feel emotions like uncertainty, fear, sadness, disorientation and frustration when they first learn of a change. If leaders do not take the time to listen to and address their employees’ concerns they will inevitably be met with resistance. This is not usually a one-and-done kind of conversation, but rather occurs through ongoing communication.

Even after individuals have a sense of closure and have navigated through their concerns, there is still some resistance in the Neutral Zone. Typical emotions here include resentment, low morale, anxiety and skepticism. Rather than getting irritated, a wise manager will double down on providing direction, encouragement and providing space to communicate their feelings.

Eventually, individuals will make their way to the New Beginning and demonstrate the high energy, commitment and willingness impatient managers expect from the beginning.

Understanding the way individuals transition through change can make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful change initiative. Though it requires time, patience and energy, it’s well worth the effort.

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