As readers of this blog are surely aware, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) imposes a number of new obligations on employers and private health insurance plans. Effective January 1, 2013, most private employers with 50 or more employees must provide health insurance coverage for women’s preventative services, including reproductive health screenings and contraception, without charging a co-pay, deductible, or co-insurance. Failure to provide such coverage can lead to financial penalties of up to one hundred dollars per day per employee who is not provided with the required coverage. A limited exception is available for religious institutions, giving such employers the option of whether to cover contraception services. Over 60 lawsuits are pending around the country by for-profit companies and non-profits alike, challenging the constitutionality of the contraception requirement on religious grounds and seeking to block its enforcement. Late last week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on one such challenge brought by a private family-owned business in Pennsylvania.
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A recent decision by a Pennsylvania district court lends support for a growing trend of filing claims under the Federal False Claims Act based on allegations that contractors on federally funded construction projects submitted “false claims” to the U.S. government due to prevailing wage violations. In United States ex rel. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union No. 98 v. The Farfield Co., the electrical workers union filed a complaint in federal court alleging that the contractor had violated the False Claims Act by submitting false certified payrolls that misclassified certain workers on public works projects in the Philadelphia area. Although this type of complaint would normally fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Labor, the judge nonetheless allowed the union’s case to proceed in court on a False Claims Act theory. With judicial recognition of this type of legal claim, not only does the DOL have the ability to investigate contractors for prevailing wage violations under the Davis-Bacon Act, but private citizens can also attack alleged violations under the False Claims Act.
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Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down as unconstitutional a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined “marriage” for purposes of over 1,100 federal laws as a legal union between a man and a woman. With the Court’s decision, same-sex couples that are legally married under state law are now entitled to the same treatment under federal law as opposite-sex married couples. Chief among the benefits now available to same-sex married couples are equal treatment under the country’s immigration and tax laws and equal rights to participate in its federal health and welfare programs. The Court’s decision striking down DOMA also will have a significant impact on the rights of same-sex married couples under various federal laws relating to employment.
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Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is now over three years old, the Act’s core requirements will not take effect until 2014. The last half of 2013 should be a “wild ride” as the federal agencies charged with implementing the Act scramble to prepare for 2014 and employers weigh their compliance options. Recently, attorneys in McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC’s Labor and Employment Law Group prepared a white paper entitled: “Health Care Reform Update: Countdown to 2014.” The White Paper is part of our ongoing PPACA series that is intended to keep clients abreast of recent developments and things to watch for as we count down to 2014. This installment addresses:

1. PCORI Fees: July 2013 Filing Deadline
2. Compliance Loopholes, Shortcuts and Silver Bullets
3. Update on Required Notice of Health Care Exchanges
4. Final Wellness Program Regulations
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At our recent Labor and Employment Law Seminar, we highlighted a number of outstanding legal cases that have the potential to have a significant impact on employer liability. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions in two closely watched Title VII employment discrimination/retaliation cases. In each case, the Court clarified previously unsettled legal questions in favor of employers.
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On May 7, 2013, a three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit vacated the NLRB’s Notice Posting Rule, originally issued by the Board in August 2011. The Rule required that virtually all private-sector employers post a Notice to Employees, informing employees of various rights under the National Labor Relations Act (Act), such as the rights to engage in union organizing, form or join a union, and strike. The Notice also described various actions by employers or unions that would be illegal under the Act.
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released the revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9, which employers are required to use to verify the identity and employment authorization of newly hired employees. Starting May 7, 2013, employers must use the new Form I-9 (with a revision date of 03/08/13) to comply with their employment eligibility verification responsibilities. The new Form I-9 was first published by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on March 8, 2013, and had been authorized for use, along with the previous Form. Now, use of the new Form I-9 will be mandatory.
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In 2011, the Third Circuit held that a pre-certification offer of judgment made by a defendant-employer to an individual plaintiff would not require dismissal of the plaintiff’s entire FLSA collective action, even if the offer of judgment would fully satisfy the plaintiff’s own individual claims. Before this decision, employers increasingly had used offers of judgment made pursuant to Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to “pick off” individual plaintiffs and defeat FLSA collective actions early in the litigation before they could be certified. The Third Circuit held that even though an offer of complete relief could moot the plaintiff’s individual claims (regardless of whether the offer was accepted), it would not defeat the broader FLSA collective action. In June 2012, the Supreme Court agreed to review the Third Circuit’s decision on this issue.
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With spring upon us and warmer temperatures hopefully just over the horizon, many employers are beginning to recruit high school students for after-school and summer employment. When doing so, employers must be aware of specific rules under both federal and state laws regarding the employment of minors (i.e., individuals under 18 years of age).

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act (“PCLA” or “Act”) went into effect. The Act is designed to clarify the state law and make it consistent with child labor standards imposed under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). For all intents and purpose, compliance with the PCLA will satisfy the employer’s obligations under the FLSA.
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