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A Better Partnership


Mar 2015
March 24, 2015

HR Focus - News Digests - Spring 2015

Definition of Same Sex Spouses Added to FMLA

The U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule on the definition of “spouse” for purposes of the FMLA. The DOL adopted the “place of celebration” rule. An employee may take FMLA leave to care for an ill same-sex spouse, even if the couple resides in a state that does not permit or recognize their marriage, as long as they were married in a jurisdiction that allowed their marriage (the “place of celebration” of the marriage).  

NLRB Ruling on ‘Quickie Elections’ Sparks Legal Battle

The National Labor Relations Board issued “quickie election” rules in December 2014. The rules will substantially shorten the amount of time between the filing of an election petition by a union and the election – a move that is to the benefit of unions. At least two federal lawsuits have been filed seeking to negate those rules. If these suits are unsuccessful, the new rules will be effective April 14, 2015. A detailed outline of these rules can be found on the Warner Norcross website, at

NLRB Issues New Guidance on Arbitration

The NLRB’s general counsel issued new guidance on the circumstances in which the board will defer unfair labor practice charge proceedings to arbitration, based on the board’s new standards issued in December 2014. In short, the board will defer to an arbitration decision if the party arguing for deferral proves “(1) the arbitrator was explicitly authorized to decide the unfair labor practice issue; (2) the arbitrator was presented with and considered the statutory issue, or was prevented from doing so by the party opposing deferral; and (3) NLRB law reasonably permits the award.”

Michigan’s Wage Loss Benefit Rate Increases Again

The maximum weekly wage loss benefit rate for Michigan workers’ compensation claimants has increased for the fourth consecutive year. The 2015 payment is capped at $820, up from the 2014 top rate of $805. The benefit figure is based on the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) as determined by the Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiative. The 2015 SAWW is $910.71, a rise of $17.27 from the 2014 SAWW of $893.44. A claimant’s weekly wage loss benefit is based on the after tax value of 80 percent of the individual’s average weekly wage.

Court Rejects Bid to Replace Manager Under ADA

A Texas court dismissed an ADA complaint in which an employee asked for a change in managers as an accommodation after a doctor’s note indicated only a need to be close to a restroom. When the employee didn’t get what he wanted, he resigned and sued. Two key points from the court’s decision: an employee is entitled to a reasonable accommodation, not the employee’s preferred accommodation; and the employee has a duty to engage in the interactive process, as does the employer.

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