Monday, March 21, 2022

Shnitser: Professional Employer Organizations & Workplace Benefits

ShnisterNatalya Shnitser (Boston College) has just posted on SSRN her article "Professional" Employers and the Transformation of Workplace Benefits (39 Yale Journal on Regulation Bulletin 99 (2021)). Here's the abstract:

Workers in the United States depend on their employers for a host of benefits beyond wages and salary. From retirement benefits to health insurance, from student loan repayment to dependent-care spending plans, from disability benefits to family and medical leave, U.S. employers play a uniquely central role in the financial lives of their employees. Yet not all employers are equally willing or capable of serving as such financial intermediaries. Larger employers commonly offer more and better benefits than smaller employers. In recent years, so-called Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) have pitched themselves as a private-sector solution to the challenges traditionally faced by smaller employers. PEOs have pioneered and marketed a “co-employment” model pursuant to which a business and the PEO agree to share certain employer rights and responsibilities, with the PEO taking on all of the human resources matters and the client-employer otherwise retaining control over the business.

While PEOs respond to long-standing challenges faced by smaller employers and have the potential to increase access to workplace benefits, this Article argues that they also introduce new and significant governance concerns that are not adequately addressed by the existing regulatory framework. Empirical evidence suggests that as currently structured, PEOs may not, in fact, provide “Fortune 500” benefits to employees at smaller companies and may instead lock participating employers into costly benefit bundles and expose them to the risk of unpaid employment taxes and health insurance claims. To protect participants in arrangements where PEOs provide key workplace benefits, this Article recommends strengthening and uniformly applying registration, disclosure and oversight requirements for all non-employer intermediaries, including PEOs. In the longer term, comprehensive retirement reform is needed to account for the transformation of workplace benefits in the United States.

rb

March 21, 2022 in Pension and Benefits, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 17, 2022

New Ed.: Employment Law in a Nutshell

NutCongratulations to Joe Seiner (South Carolina) on the publication of the 5th edition of Employment Law in a Nutshell (with the late Robert Covington). Here's the publisher's description:

This Nutshell provides an overview of individual employee rights and responsibilities. It addresses a number of areas, including establishing and ending the employment relationship, protection of employee privacy and reputation, discrimination, regulation of wages and hours, employee physical safety, fringe benefits, and employee duties of loyalty. This edition includes a discussion of the many changes in harassment law and the impact of the #MeToo movement, a look at the recent Supreme Court case law extending employment discrimination protections to sexual orientation and transgender status, an examination of the trend toward a more virtual economy and platform-based work, and a description of the changes in how employees work, and the terms of that work, in the face of an ongoing health pandemic.

Here's what's new for the 5th edition:

The fifth edition takes on a number of transformative changes that have occurred in the last several years in the area of workplace law, including: (1) The impact of the #MeToo moment on claims of gender discrimination and harassment; (2) The changing ways employment status is considered in the face of an ongoing health pandemic; (3) The move toward a more virtual workplace and employment that relies more heavily on technology; and (4) The recent Supreme Court case law extending employment discrimination protections to sexual orientation and transgender status.

Congrats, Joe!

rb

March 17, 2022 in Book Club, Employment Common Law, Employment Discrimination | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 3, 2022

A Celebration of the life and work of Minna Kotkin

Friend-of-blog Ann McGinley sends along the following invitation to the celebration of the life and work of Minna Kotkin.  Minna was a friend and mentor to so many of us in the labor and employment community, and she will be truly missed by all. Please join us if you can, the information is below and the link is available here:

http://brooklaw.imodules.com/controls/email_marketing/view_in_browser.aspx?sid=1286&gid=1&sendId=3223192&ecatid=17&puid=1e0d77a5-6e61-46a3-a732-6437cf36aa60

Wednesday, March 23

About the Program

This year’s Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Forum celebrates the life and work of Professor Minna Kotkin - teacher, scholar, lawyer, activist, mentor, and friend.

This two-hour program on Zoom will feature remarks from colleagues, former students, clients and friends about Professor Kotkin’s teaching, scholarship, mentorship, and lawyering.


At the end of the program, we hope as many audience members as time allows will share their personal memories and thoughts of Professor Kotkin by speaking at the event or sharing their thoughts and tributes in writing in the space provided on the registration form.

 

Memorial Fund Established to Honor Professor Kotkin


Professor Minna Kotkin was a trailblazer in the law and in the classroom, where she inspired generations of Brooklyn Law students. We invite you to join other friends and alumni in honoring her life and carrying her legacy forward by making a gift to the Minna Kotkin Memorial Fund.

 

Date & Time

   

Wednesday, March 23

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. EST (U.S. & Canada)

Virtual Event (Zoom)

March 3, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Duff Rethinks Workers' Comp

DuffMichael Duff (Wyoming, en route to SLU) has just posted on SSRN his new article (forthcoming Kentucky L.J.) Fifty More Years of Ineffable Quo?: Workers' Compensation and the Right to Personal Security. I usually edit down abstracts to one paragraph, but one paragraph won't do justice to this critically important article. Here's the full abstract:

During the days of Covid-19, OSHA has been much in the news as contests surface over the boundaries of what risks of workplace harm are properly regulable by the federal government. Yet the original statute that created OSHA—the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970—was not exclusively concerned with front-end regulation of workplace harm. Just over fifty years ago, the same Act mandated an investigation of the American workers’ compensation system, which consists of a loose network of independent state workers’ compensation systems. The National Commission created by the Act to carry out the investigation issued a report of its findings in 1972 and concluded that American workers’ compensation was neither fair nor adequate. The Commission made nineteen “essential recommendations” for the system’s improvement. The federal Department of Labor shifted into high gear to monitor state compliance with the recommendations under implicit, but vague, threat of workers’ compensation federalization if progress was not achieved. In what is perhaps the most interesting part of the story, nothing changed. Today, the Department of Labor no longer monitors workers’ compensation’s attainment of any benchmarks, although some organizations monitor workers’ compensation “trends.”

Lost in discussions of workers’ compensation is any sense of a baseline. Why does this matter? Because workers’ compensation was conceived as a “Grand Bargain” or “quid pro quo,” in which workers surrendered tort rights for adequate statutory benefits. This article contends that the absence of investigation as to whether workers’ compensation benefits are too low has effectively unmoored workers’ compensation from the faintest echoes of the tort rights for which it was exchanged. The article seeks to provoke discussion of what it means, as a matter of both policy and constitutional law, for a state to dispossess injury remedies by converting workers’ compensation from a reasonable substitute remedy for tort to a pale, anti-destitution law relegated to functioning as a form of “welfare.” The article explores the phenomenon of permanent partial disability benefits paid to workers for injuries according to bizarre schedules that are not to any degree based on workers’ lost earning capacity nor on any rational criteria that anyone can identify. Permanent partial benefits—the largest component of workers’ compensation indemnity benefits—are arbitrary.

In its essence this article is about whether state legislatures have carte blanche to annihilate meaningful remedies for workers wrongfully injured in the workplace. Furthermore, to the extent that state legislatures pursue such objectives, the article presses for recognition of a Blackstonian “absolute” right to personal security. Evisceration of remedies not only makes workers poorer, but also leads to their insecurity because they work for actors with insufficient incentives to act safely. The solution to the problem is for legislatures to be more transparent about the relationship between workers’ compensation benefits and foregone negligence remedies—particularly because the original Grand Bargain was struck at a time when negligence affirmative defenses would instantly defeat tort claims, a situation that no longer obtains. The time for benefit inscrutability and ineffability is over.

Well-done, Michael -- I can't agree more.

rb

March 1, 2022 in Scholarship, Workplace Safety | Permalink | Comments (0)