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November 16, 2012

HR Fact Friday: The Elections and Employment Law

Filed under: Employment Law,General HR Buzz,Legal Issues6:00 am

With the local, state and national elections now over (thankfully- not sure we all could have endured another few days of election TV ads), the future world of employment law has more clarity. For example, the national health care reform law passed in 2010 will not be repealed. Instead, it will be explained and enforced with more regulatory guidance and interpretation and employers should continue (or begin) implementing steps.

It seems possible that Congress might reach some kind of an agreement on immigration reform, which clearly will impact employers. Federal employment law enforcement agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will continue to be well-funded and probably act more aggressively in favor of employees than you might expect under a Republican president. Because voters in several states recognized the legality of same sex marriage, this likely will impact employee benefits plans in terms of who can be qualified dependents, etc. This trend may also provide momentum for Congressional enactment of the national Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA), a law that would add sexual orientation to the list of federal protected classes.

The fact that Congress is divided between the two major political parties suggests there will not likely be as much chance of legislative action on various other initiatives such as an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or an increase in the minimum wage. Finally, certain states also legalized the use of marijuana. While federal law still criminalizes this drug use, state law in these states (that have legalized marijuana use) can no longer be used to justify employment decisions.

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