Pennsylvania residents may want to keep an eye on a lawsuit that was recently filed in Washington D.C. against Georgetown University for the latest in fiduciary standards relating to employee benefit programs. The lawsuit was filed in federal court under the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA), and it alleges the university failed to properly protect the retirement assets of invested plan beneficiaries.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration, or EBSA, restored more than $1.1 billion in employee benefits in 2017. That money was put back into health, disability and retirement plans meant to benefit Pennsylvania residents and other American workers. Of the money restored to such plans, $326.7 million was for vested employees in defined benefit plans who had been let go by their employers. Overall, $682.3 million was recovered at the close of 1,114 civil investigations.
Commercial truck drivers in Pennsylvania spend many hours on the road, and all of them aren't necessarily actual work hours. Many truckers have long commutes from home to work, and this issue is about to be examined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency is now taking comments on a proposed survey of excessive commuting for drivers and the role long commutes play in their safety.
A regulation that protected tipped workers in Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S. may soon be modified. The Obama-era rule prohibited restaurants, bars and hotels from requiring tipped employees to pool their tips with non-tipped workers. A newly proposed regulation from the Trump Administration would allow restaurants to require tipped employees to participate in pools with back-of-the-house employees.
In Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the U.S., waiters and waitresses get most of their pay through tips given by patrons. However, the restaurant industry has faced an increasing number of lawsuits due to the 80/20 rule, which states that side work cannot occupy more than 20 percent of an employee's workweek without the employee being entitled to minimum wage.
Pennsylvania workers who are unclear of their should note that the federal Department of Labor under the Trump administration has rescinded interpretations published during the Obama years. These statements of guidance were meant to steer legal rulings on whether a person was an independent contractor as opposed to an employee. With the department's withdrawal of these guidelines, courts may continue to apply traditional views to these type of cases.
Pennsylvania employees may be interested to learn that a case involving church-affiliated health care institutions and pension plans was being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case involved whether or not church-affiliated pension plans that were not established or maintained by the church should be exempt from Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 regulations.
Losing a job or suffering retaliation at the workplace can result in severe emotional distress for Pennsylvania employees and their families. A 2017 appeals court ruling may now allow certain workers to sue for related damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Pennsylvania workers should be aware of being misclassified by their employers. This is a prevalent and harmful act that is done deliberately by employers so that they can reduce costs and shift responsibility. The United States Department of Labor has obtained two judgments against employers who falsely claimed that their workers are independent contractors instead of employees.
Pennsylvania workers who believe that their employers have violated their rights sometimes file complaints. When they do, some employers retaliate against them and fire, demote or punish them in another way. Retaliation against employees for asserting their rights is illegal under federal law.