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Employers can expect more wage-and-hour litigation in 2014

Wage-and-hour claims were the most predominant type of workplace class action pursued against employers and are expected to continue this year "with no end in sight," says Seyfarth Shaw L.L.P.'s 10th annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report. The report says that in terms of novel litigation theories, "employers can expect an increase in off-the-clock litigation brought by nonexempt employees, fueled by new theories attacking employer rounding practices," and the increased use of mobile devices.

New guidance on Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services recently issued a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding implementation of the ACA, as well as the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). Topics include:

Another record year for EEOC fines

"The EEOC obtained a record $372.1 million in monetary relief for victims of private-sector workplace discrimination in fiscal year 2013," the agency noted in a release. "This is $6.7 million more than was recovered last year and the highest level obtained in the commission's history." Of particular note is the increase in litigation of systemic discrimination - 23 percent of the EEOC's active docket.

Prevention through Design can help protect construction workers on roofs

Using features such as parapets and guardrails on roofs during construction could help prevent falls among workers, according to a new NIOSH publication.

The document describes how to use Prevention through Design principles to avert falls from roofs.

FMCSA clarifies exemptions for short-haul drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released guidance on break requirements for short-haul commercial truck drivers who unintentionally exceed time or distance driving limits. Since schedule changes or other situations may force short-haul drivers to exceed the time or distance eligibility criteria after eight continuous hours of driving, FMCSA stated that this would not violate the 30-minute break requirement as long as the drivers take a break at the "earliest safe opportunity" after exceeding the limits and note in their record-of-duty-status logbook the reason why they did not take a break at the required time.

FMCSA extends requirement for paper medical certificates

The requirement that Interstate truck and bus drivers keep a paper copy of their medical examiner's certificate with them while driving has been extended to Jan. 30, 2015. A deadline of Jan. 30, 2014 had been set for states to include drivers' medical certification records in the national driver's license database; however, some state driver licensing agencies will not be able to meet the deadline, leading FMCSA to keep the paper requirement active. This will allow the certificates to be reviewed during roadside inspections to prevent commercial drivers from receiving recordkeeping violations.

Interstate truck and bus carriers also must keep a paper copy of the certificates in their driver qualification files.

New rule allowing FMCSA to shut down carriers with pattern of violations goes into effect Feb. 21

FMCSA can shut down commercial truck and bus companies that show an "egregious" pattern of non-compliance with federal safety regulations, under a new final rule that goes into effect Feb. 21.

According to the National Safety Council, the rule allows FMCSA to suspend or revoke carriers' operating authority, even if investigations into individual violations would not result in such an action. FMCSA's new authority also extends to carriers that employ individuals who repeatedly violate safety regulations and have influence over the carrier's operations, as well as carriers that "reincarnate" into new entities to avoid penalties.

NLRB drops its defense of controversial poster

At the start of the new year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) declined to challenge two appeals court decisions striking down its poster requirement.

The board did not appeal the rulings to the Supreme Court by the Jan. 2, 2014, deadline, and employer groups danced on the grave of the mandated posters.

Construction videos describe real-life construction fatalities

The Center for Construction Research and Training recently released three training videos based on NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Reports, also known as FACE Reports. The short videos describe real-life construction incidents - including site conditions and background of the crew - and then show what actions led to the fatality. The incidents involve an aluminum ladder making contact with power lines, a worker falling from a ladder while washing windows, and a trench collapse.