New Legislation and Whistleblower Law
Under President Obama, a number of new laws and legislative initiatives pertaining to the workplace have been introduced. Changes in employment law introduced by the Obama administration impact everything from union organizing to COBRA benefits to fair pay to whistleblower protections. Jay P. Holland advises and represents employers in regard to changes in employment law that directly impacts them.
For more information regarding new employment laws and how we can help you comply and adapt to the changing workplace environment created by them, contact employment law attorney Jay P. Holland today.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)
Under the ARRA, employers must now pay 65% of COBRA premiums for employees who have been laid off or let go from their jobs. Under the terms of the ARRA, employers can recover some or all of these costs through tax credits against withholding and FICA taxes. Complications can arise, however, if an employer decides to extend COBRA benefits to domestic partners. In this case, the COBRA premium subsidy must be recognized as income and cannot be reported as a tax credit. There are a number of other issues that employers must also consider which will impact the decisions made regarding certain policies and procedures as stated in employee handbooks. As your lawyer, Jay Holland can advise you as to what is in your best interest.
- Whistleblower Protections
In regard to whistleblowers, the ARRA broadens protections for them while placing additional burdens of proof on employers when allegations of retaliation arise. Under the terms of the ARRA, an employee is granted whistleblower protection once he or she makes a formal or informal complaint to a supervisor or company representative regarding fraud, safety violations, public health issues, or illegal activity. If an employee believes he or she has been the target of retaliation, they need only prove their status as a whistleblower resulted in harassment or discrimination. Alternatively, employers must present “clear and convincing evidence” showing how an employee was treated had nothing to do with their status as a whistleblower.
Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA)
FERA, passed in April of 2009, broadens the scope of what “false claims” means, while changing the definition of what constitutes a financial institution. Under FERA, “financial institution” now includes mortgage lending companies. Specifically, 18 U.S.C. § 1014 was broadened to include mortgage companies. Additionally, 18 U.S.C. § 1031 now includes a broader range of government contracts, including grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Lastly, 18 U.S.C. § 1956 defines what counts as proceeds from money laundering, increasing the prosecutorial scope of the federal government.
These and other laws place additional responsibilities and obligations on employers. In order to avoid unwanted liability and potential legal complications, contact employment law attorney Jay P. Holland today to learn how our office can help your company.