New Mexico News & Analysis

  • Hidalgo County dispatchers awarded overtime for preshift briefings

    Several years ago, Hidalgo County emergency dispatchers and correctional officers filed a federal lawsuit claiming they were entitled to extra pay and—in some cases—overtime for work they performed for the county. The employees claimed they were required to perform preshift and postshift work but were not paid for the time. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose decisions are binding on all New Mexico employers) held that the dispatchers must be paid for the five minutes they had to spend at work before their shifts began. However, the court ruled that the other employees' claims did not merit additional pay. The decision providesan example of when employees must be paid for preshift activities in a confusing area of the law.

  • Employee's discrimination, retaliation claims against United Airlines take flight

    Every HR manager has heard the word "pretext," but what does it really mean? In a recent case against United Airlines, the trial court judge did not give the jury instructions about pretext, even though the evidence could have supported a finding of pretext. That was a mistake, said the 10th Circuit. Go back to the courtroom and try the case again, the appellate court told the parties.

  • Don't fall prey to these misguided FMLA practices

    The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has long had a reputation as one of the most maddening laws for HR professionals to administer. Yet even now, nearly 25 years after it was enacted, relatively few employers give it the conscious thought and planning that's necessary to develop a strong process and avoid missteps that could lead to a lawsuit. Which may explain why FMLA lawsuits continue to be common despite the ample attention devoted to FMLA compliance in HR publications, seminars, and other educational materials.

  • As paid leave laws become more common, challenges increase

    Much has been made in recent years about the fact that leave laws in the United States suffer dramatically in comparison to every other industrialized nation. Many companies, large and small, have responded by adopting paid leave policies on their own. But beyond that, there is an increasing effort at the state and even city and county levels to require employers doing business within their borders to offer varying types of paid leave to their employees.

  • Moonlighting is more common than you think

    According to a recent report from Adobe, one in three office workers moonlights. The report indicates that moonlighters tend to be happier and more optimistic than workers who don't hold down a second job. The top reasons for moonlighting include pursuing a passion (e.g., accountant by day, lead guitarist in a band on the weekends), expanding networking opportunities, gaining new skills to help shift careers, obtaining more experience in a current career trajectory, helping others, having fun, engaging in social interaction with others, and increasing financial security by not being bound to one company.

  • Agency Action

    Premium processing of some H-1B applicants resumes. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in September 2017 that it had resumed premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2018 cap. That cap has been set at 65,000 visas. Premium processing also has resumed for the annual 20,000 additional petitions that are set aside to hire workers with a U.S. masters degree or higher educational degrees. When a petitioner requests the agencys premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. If that deadline isnt met, the agency will refund the petitioners premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the application. The service is available only for pending petitions, not new submissions, since USCIS received enough petitions in April to meet the 2018 cap.

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey finds pay more important than health benefits for most workers. A survey by the American Payroll Association shows that 63% of employees in the United States say that receiving higher wages is more important to them than having better health benefits. A wage increase is easy for workers to understand, Mike Trabold, director of compliance risk for Paychex, said of the findings. The value is clear and immediately apparent. In 2017, considering todays unpredictable regulatory environment, the same cant be said for better benefits. More than 34,000 employees responded to the 2017 Getting Paid In America survey.

  • DOC's denial of union officials' vehicle request is discrimination

    The denial of a request to use a state vehicle to attend a mandatory meeting led to a discrimination claim that ended up before the New Mexico Court of Appeals. Even though the scenario involved union member employees and management employees, the standard for proving discrimination is the same: If you treat two similarly situated employees differently based on an identifiable characteristic, you are engaging in discrimination. In this case, the New Mexico Department of Corrections (DOC) was found to have committed an act of discrimination against employees who were members of their workplace union when it treated them differently from managers.

  • When an employer overshares about a pending ADA lawsuit

    "Oversharing" is a common complaint these days. I know that my own adult children warn me that I am oversharing when I disclose too many details about my personal life to them. But even a well-meaning employment attorney can overshare without realizing it. In the following case, oversharing put an employer in hot water with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and created more legal headaches than the original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) charge brought by a former employee.

  • Avoid these 5 mistakes in your FMLA policy

    Despite the fact that it's coming up on its 25th anniversary early next year, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) continues to cause grief to even seasoned HR professionals. From relatively simple tasks like keeping up with the latest U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) forms, to the trickiest issues of tracking intermittent leave or handling suspected leave fraud, employers large and small can struggle to get it right.