Thursday, January 31, 2008

Supreme Court Tackles ADA case

The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari from an Eighth Circuit decision and has agreed to address whether an employer violates its duty, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee when, instead of reassigning the employee to a vacant, equivalent position, it merely allows the employee to compete for that position. The grant of certiorari was limited to Question 1 of the petition, which stated: "If a disability prevents an employee from performing the essential functions of his or her current position, does the ADA require: (a) that the employer reassign the employee to a vacant, equivalent position for which he or she is qualified, as the Tenth and District of Columbia Circuits have held; or (b) that the employer merely permit the employee to apply and compete with other applicants for the vacant, equivalent position for which he or she is qualified, as the Seventh and Eighth Circuits have held?"
In the decision below, addressing an issue of apparent first impression for the court, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employer did not violate its duty of reasonable accommodation when it required an employee with a disability to enter a pool of applicants for a vacant router position, and ultimately assigned a more qualified applicant to the vacant position and the employee to a maintenance associate position with less pay than her previous position. The ADA did not require the employer to turn away a superior applicant for the router position in order to give the position to the employee in question. Even though the employee was able to perform the job duties of the vacant router position, the employer had a non-discriminatory policy of hiring the best applicant for available positions, the Court of Appeals reasoned. The maintenance position may not have been a perfect substitute job, or the employee's most preferred alternative job, but an employer is not required to provide a disabled employee with an accommodation that is ideal from the employee's perspective, only an accommodation that is reasonable, the court explained.

The ADA's the "reassignment" language cannot be satisfied by merely permitting a disabled incumbent employee to compete with the rest of the world for a vacant, equivalent position, the employee argued in her petition for a writ of certiorari. Moreover, the petition asserted, the judges who dissented from the denial of en banc rehearing correctly observed that the Eighth Circuit's ruling "renders a statutory provision in the ADA superfluous, overlooks EEOC guidance, and is contrary to the Supreme Court's admonition in US Airways, Inc. v. Barnett, 535 U.S. 391 (2002), that preferences are a valid means to achieve the statutory goals." (Case below: Huber v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 486 F.3d 480 (C.A.8-Ark. 2007), reh'g and reh'g en banc den., 493 F.3d 1002 (C.A.8-Ark. 2007).)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Important Deadlines Approaching

1/31 - Furnish Forms 1099 and W-2: Furnish each employee a completed Form W-2, Wage & Tax Statement for 2007.

2/1 - OSHA 300A Form: Employers need to post their 2007 Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300A) from February 1st through April 30th of each year.

2/15 - W-4 Reminder: Any Form W-4 previously given to you claiming exemption from withholding has expired. Employers must change the withholding exemption to "single, with zero allowances" for employees who claimed total exemption from withholding for last year, unless those employees have completed a new Form W-4.

3/31 - Forms 1099 and 8027 Due: Employers are required to file (electronically) Forms 1099 and 8027 with the IRS. Form 1099 is used for reporting payment made to Independent Contractors. Form 8027 is to be filed by large food and beverage an establishment in which tipping is customary.

3/31 - Form W-2 Due: Form W-2 is to be filed with the Social Security Administration.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Minimum Wage To Increase In July

The federal minimum wage is currently $5.85 per hour; it is scheduled to increase to $6.55 per hour on July 24, 2008. A number of states, including California, Illinois and Texas have also increased the minimum wage.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New IRS Mileage Rate for 2008

The new IRS mileage deduction for business use of a personal vehicle went up 2 cents this year, from 48.5 cents a mile to 50.5 cents. So, if an employee's car gets 20 miles to the gallon, and she uses one gallon of gas for business purposes (i.e., goes 20 business miles), it is about $3 in gas that the employee is expending. The employer is reimbursing the employee $10.10, so the employee is also getting fairly compensated for any wear and tear to the vehicle.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New EEOC fact sheet on testing

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a fact sheet detailing how federal antidiscrimination laws apply to employer-administered checks and tests which may apply to job candidates and workers who are up for promotions. Common checks and tests include those measuring cognition and personality, medical history, credit, and criminal backgrounds.

Log onto for more information.

New I-9 Form

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency that enforces the employment verification requirements, has mandated that all employers begin using a new I-9 form . The I-9 is a form used by an employer to confirm that every new employee is either a U.S. citizen or authorized to be employed in the U.S. The I-9 should be completed within three days of the commencement of employment.

You may find a copy of the new Form I-9 here, as well as a copy of the revised USCIS Handbook for Employers, Form M-274, which explains the I-9 process. To ensure that you the latest version, make sure that the lower right hand corner of the form reads “Form I-9 (Rev. 06/05/07) N”.