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Rhode Island Tip Line For Misclassification, Job Misclassification Woes, Obama Executive Action – Foreign Workers & US Businesses


Rhode Island Establishes Tip Line For Worker Misclassification

Rhode Island’s Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification announced earlier this month that it has set up an anonymous telephone tip line for reporting allegations of independent contractor misclassification.  The Task Force was established to reduce worker misclassification.  It consists of representatives from Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training (DLT), the Division of Taxation, the Business Regulation’s Workforce Regulation and Safety Division, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Public Safety, and the chief judge of the Workers’ Compensation Court.

Measures such as these show that state governments’ interest in worker misclassification is not waning.  Employers who have not already closely reviewed their independent contractor relationships should consider performing a privileged audit in order to assess the risk they may have of misclassification claims.

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Source: The National Law Review


Job Misclassification Woes

Last month, a former Google worker in New York filed suit against the tech giant and online staffing firms oDesk and Elance, claiming that both he and others were misclassified as independent contractors. The case is just the latest to induce headaches for both employers and their legal teams from coast to coast.

This most recent class-action lawsuit demands unpaid wages, including overtime, and contends plaintiff Jacob McPherson and other contingent workers logged as many as 45 hours per week but Google never paid for more than 30 hours of that time.

A Google representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This issue impacts every employer, both public and private, in any

business,” says Amy Jensen, a partner in the San Francisco office of Hinshaw & Culbertson, who adds that companies operating in California also must take special precautions to abide by that state’s particular classification laws, because they often go above and beyond the federal requirements. Currently, she says, the hot issue in the Golden State has centered on meal and rest breaks.

But employers nationwide also are being impacted by litigation and Department of Labor audits that focus on the “exempt” classification of employees, according to Lee Schreter, co-chair of Littler Mendelson’s wage and hour practice in Atlanta. Last year, the firm released a survey of 325 HR leaders and other C-suite executives that found 49 percent are concerned about the threat of misclassification litigation or a Department of Labor audit in the near future.

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Source: Human Resources Executive Online


Obama’s Executive Action – What It means For Foreign Workers And US Businesses

President Obama’s immigration address to the nation on November 20, 2014 focused on the undocumented immigrants in the United States. However, there are several interesting policy initiatives that will affect US employers and foreign workers. In the address, the President acknowledged the importance immigrants play in the nation’s economy and by virtue of these policy changes, and possibly regulatory changes, he is seeking to retain highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs in the US. At the time of his announcement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memo to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) directing actions to support US businesses and foreign workers. None of these changes are immediate and it remains to be seen how they will ultimately be implemented.

  • Portable Work Authorization for Highly Skilled Workers – DHS Secretary, Jeh Charles Johnson published a memo to USCIS Director León Rodríguez on November 20, 2014 addressing skilled workers and business directing USCIS and the Department of State (DOS) to ensure all immigrant visa numbers are used each year and to consider other regulatory changes to provide stability to individuals with approved I-140 petitions. Specifically, they will make regulatory changes to allow individuals with an approved I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, where an immigrant visa is not available, apply earlier to Adjust Status to Lawful Permanent Resident. By doing so, under the “portability” provision of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), after the I-485 Application to Adjust Status has been pending for 180 days that individual can move or “port” to a new job so long as it is in the same or similar occupation. Moreover, USCIS will issue a policy memorandum to provide guidance on “same or similar” occupation in an effort to increase flexibility and career development while maintaining stability with existing green card process. So, although the green card process may still take years for certain classes of foreign nationals, they may have more flexibility in their careers.

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Source: Mondaq

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