#bekind #staywell #grantgrace

For most of us, Memorial Day weekend has always served as the unofficial kick-off to the summer season, a long weekend spent with family and friends enjoying time together and creating memories. But the reality of life with COVID-19 has put many of these plans on hold and makes leaving the house feel like an act of bravery.

Over the past few months, the Lake Effect team has been sharing with you the latest government updates and guidance. Today, we would like to take a few moments to recognize the true meaning of Memorial Day and honor those who have lost their lives in active military service, a true act of bravery.

Next, we want to help you officially kick off the Summer of 2020 with some old school good vibrations! In March, when the reality of living in a world with COVID-19 became clear, our team came up with three phrases signifying how we wanted to face the uncertain times ahead:

  • Be Kind
  • Stay Well
  • Grant Grace

Be Kind: COVID-19 has impacted everyone in different ways. We will have good days and bad, but any act of kindness we can provide each other, even a stranger, goes a long way toward getting through these days together. This weekend, how can you make someone smile by sharing your kindness?

Stay Well: Not only should we monitor our temperatures, practice social distancing, and wash our hands frequently, but we should be mindful of our mental health as well. It is important that we stay aware of our current mental state, and care for ourselves and each other. There have been times when some of us had to take a personal” timeout,” and other times when we just needed to be there for each other (of course, via phone or Microsoft Teams). This weekend, soak up some sun, have an impromptu picnic with the family at one of our lovely parks, take advantage of the rain that is in the forecast and binge on Netflix all day, or make more bread – whatever fills your tank mentally and physically.

Grant Grace: The challenges we face today are many. For some, social distancing has led to feelings of isolation; for others, it has led to crowded homes with children home from school all day or college kids reluctantly returning home early; it has converted dining room tables or kitchen counters into unintended classrooms and home offices. We have cancelled weddings and graduations, and we have postponed memorials and funerals to say goodbye to loved ones. No matter how hard we try to stay strong, we are not perfect. This is a stressful time for all of us. Our quirks shine brighter than ever when we are stressed. Be gentle with yourself and with others. We’ll get through this together.

So, enjoy your holiday weekend in whatever form it takes. #bekind #staywell #grantgrace

Jenn Lindberg Joins Lake Effect HR & Law

blankWe are excited to announce the addition of Jennifer Lindberg, SPHR, SHRM-SCP to the Lake Effect HR & Law team!

Jenn has over 23 years of experience in a wide range of human resource activities, including recruiting, employee development and training, executive and leadership coaching, benefits administration, policy development and implementation, employee relations, workplace investigations, anti-harassment initiatives, and strategic planning.

Prior to joining Lake Effect, Jenn worked in-house as Human Resource Manager at Forward Service Corporation and ABR Employment Services and, before that, served as a strategic HR advisor at a statewide HR company. Throughout her career, Jenn has assisted employers in a variety of settings, including professional services, staffing, tech and biotech companies, as well as non-profit and religious organizations.

“I am ecstatic to join the amazing Lake Effect team,” Lindberg said. “I have been fortunate to work with both Jane and Tricia in the past, and I jumped at the opportunity to work with them and this incredibly talented group. I know that my background and experience will serve the current and future needs of Lake Effect’s clients.”

Jane Clark, CEO and Managing Partner, remarked on how thrilled she was to have Jenn join the growing business, “Jenn is a welcome addition to the Lake Effect team! Her extensive knowledge of human resources and benefits will augment our services. With her engaging personality, commitment to lifelong learning, and experience handling very difficult coaching and management issues, Jenn will dive right in to serve and advise our clients. Without a doubt, Jenn is a perfect fit with our culture, mission and core values – she has the same keen intellect, quick wit, and ready laugh as the rest of the Lake Effect team.”

Check out Jenn’s full bio here.

Department of Labor Releases Overtime Final Rule

On September 24, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced the long-awaited final rule on overtime and the salary level threshold for exempt workers. This final rule will become effective on January 1, 2020. Under the new rule, an estimated 1.3 million additional workers will be eligible for an estimated $298.8 million in overtime pay.

The DOL’s final rule:

  • raises the standard salary level from the currently enforced level of $455 per week to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-time worker);
  • allows employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level;
  • raises the total annual compensation requirement for “highly compensated employees” (HCEs) from the currently enforced level of $100,000 per year to $107,432 per year (NOTE: Wisconsin does not recognize this exemption); and
  • adjusts the special salary levels for workers in U.S. territories and the motion picture industry.

The DOL also noted that, while it did not incorporate automatic updates to the salary level, it intends to update the standard salary and HCEs total annual compensation levels on a more frequent basis in the future.

Please see the DOL’s Fact Sheet on the final rule here.

Notably, the DOL made no changes to the duties tests for exempt workers and HCEs. Please keep in mind that, to be exempt, employees must satisfy both the salaried basis test and one of the exempt duties tests.

The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to assist and advise if you have questions about how this final rule may impact your workforce and pay practices. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on LGBTQIA Workplace Protections

The United States Supreme Court recently announced that it will hear three cases that address whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act applies to workplace discrimination claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Two consolidated cases from the 2nd Circuit (CT, NY, and VT) and 11th Circuit (AL, FL, and GA) involve discrimination claims based on sexual orientation and transgender issues. In Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., the Second Circuit held that sexual orientation discrimination is motivated by sex and thus is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII. In Bostock v. Clayton County Board of Commissioners, the Eleventh Circuit reached the opposite conclusion, ruling that “[d]ischarge for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII.” Bostock, 723 F. App’x 964, 965 (11th Cir. 2018).

The third case that will be heard by the Supreme Court comes out of the Sixth Circuit. In Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n v. R.G. &. G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., 884 F.3d 560 (6th Cir. 2018), the court ruled that Title VII bars discrimination based on a person being transgender. The court explained, “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex.” Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n, 884 F.3d 560, 575 (6th Cir. 2018).

According to recent polling by PRRI, 69% of Americans favor anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBTQIA employees from discrimination in the workplace. The current administration, however, opposes any such protection. In the face of this tension, the Supreme Court’s upcoming decisions in these cases will be closely watched. They will likewise have sweeping impact across the county, much like Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark civil rights case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry extends to same-sex couples.

Employers in Madison will likely welcome greater certainty on this issue at the federal level. The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, which is the state-wide statute covering workplace discrimination and harassment, considers discrimination based on sexual orientation to be a form of sexual discrimination, but does not yet prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. The Madison Equal Opportunities Ordinance is more expansive and expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to assist and advise if you have questions related to workplace discrimination, or you want assistance with professional development or respectful workplace training. Contact us here or call 844-333-5253 (LAKE).

Hannah Joins the Team

blankWe are excited to announce the addition of Hannah L. Renfro, J.D. to the Lake Effect HR & Law team!

Hannah has over 15 years of experience representing clients on a wide range of matters, including employment litigation; crisis and communication management; governmental relations; compliance and risk management; strategies for hiring and retaining staff; and general employment matters.

Prior to joining Lake Effect, Hannah served as Chief Legal Officer at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for 7 years. She was instrumental in creating the organization and establishing its legal and compliance functions. Hannah oversaw the development of the organization’s policies and procedures, and training the Board of Directors, officers, and employees on those policies and procedures.

In addition to her in-house experience, Hannah practiced at Foley & Lardner (Madison), Godfrey & Kahn (Madison), and Rathje Woodward (Madison). While in private practice, Hannah litigated complex commercial matters involving non-compete agreements, employment discrimination, intellectual property and contract disputes, antitrust law, and campaign finance. She also has a broad range of experience in negotiating disputes and advising clients on how to minimize exposure to litigation.

“I am thrilled to be working with the amazing team at Lake Effect,” Renfro said. “The firm has created a unique, comprehensive approach to HR and employment law. I look forward to applying my background to help achieve Lake Effect’s mission and vision for our clients.”

Jane Clark, CEO and Managing Partner, remarked on what an exceptional coup it was to recruit Hannah, “She fits perfectly within the Lake Effect model with her blend of in-house and external advisory experience.  Even better, she is a terrific culture fit, supporting our core values with a keen intellect, quick wit, and ready laugh. “

Check out Hannah’s full bio here.

Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC
(844) 333-5253 (LAKE)
info@le-hrlaw.com

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