If drones and UAVs excite you like they do me, you definitely do not want to miss our Drone Meetup on Thursday, March 29th! Not only will various representatives from the NCDOT be present to talk about their use of UAVs in the field, but they will also be sharing some of their research and development projects making NC a nationwide leader in drones and UAV development.
Did you know that Wake Technical Community College was recently ranked as the #1 online college in the United States? What about that 1 in 10 Wake County residents attends Wake Tech for one of their many certificate or associate degrees? Read more as Guest Blogger Matt Smith, the Executive Director of the Wake Tech Foundation, shares why he's passionate about Wake Tech and why you should be too!
On January 10, 2018, 98 7-Eleven stores nationwide were raided by ICE resulting in 21 arrests of alleged undocumented workers. Needless to say, it is suspected that more raids are to come, probably in industries known to have immigration issues like food service and construction. Allow me to go ahead and answer some of the questions in your head...
Microchipping employees is a thing and IDK what's going on anymore...
In your annual review of your company's employment handbook, I bet you've never once thought to yourself "Hey! We should add a microchip policy!" But maybe one day you will....
On Aug. 1, 2017 a Wisconsin tech firm introduced a microchip that can be implanted in the hand of its employees. This single chip can do things like allow access to buildings and networks, use copiers, open doors, and possibly purchase items from the company's cafeteria. While their policy on this microchip was voluntary (read: employees who opted out were not retaliated against), more than FIFTY (50) opted to get said microchip implanted under their skin. Apparently the microchip is smaller than a grain of rice. BUT STILL!
Employer Security via RFID.
For employers working in large spaces and with sensitive data and technology, the microchip concept adds a level of security unseen until now. The microchips being used for employment purposes are essentially mini GPS's also called radio frequency identification ("RFID"). It allows employers to monitor and regulate access, as well as monitor and regulate time. For example, these RFID devices can alert employers if a certain someone is spending an excessive amount of time "getting coffee." These devices can also collect data on access to certain buildings, units, labs, servers, etc.
Attorneys Caution RFID use (duh).
Anytime employers ask about sticking a GPS device in an employee's hand, I shutter to think of all the ways this scenario can go wrong. Who pays the medical bills when one employee's implant causes an infection? What happens to data collected while the employee is not working for the employer (e.g. evenings and nights)? How many exceptions will need to be made for ADA/Title VII accommodations and how will this even work? What happens when that rice grain goes rogue and your workforce turns into robots? All these questions and so little answers cause all us attorneys to shrug and say "it depends."
What Happens Next?
Only a few U.S. companies are experimenting with RFIDs on a voluntary basis. Right now the cost behind these microchips will deter most employers from even considering the concept but I would no longer consider microchipping employees a thing of the future. In other words, we'll probably be hearing more on this topic in the next decade. In the meantime, I think I'll stick with microchipping my cat.
If you're into flying a recreational drone in and around Raleigh parks, you may want to pencil in the Raleigh City Council meeting scheduled on July 13, 2017. The City of Raleigh has proposed operating regulations specific to recreational drone use in city parks that shows an overall theme of PRIVACY. DUN DUN DUN. While most of the proposed regulations mirror both the North Carolina and FAAlaws/regs already in existence, some of the proposed regulations add additional burdens and difficulties to recreational drone pilots.
A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate may give more regulatory power to state and local governments when it comes to drone use. These varying laws and regs may impact commercial drone users and their ability to operate fluidly across state lines. Also, have you heard about the D.C. District Court case that held recreational drone registration unlawful? Cray.
President Trump may be a lot of things but so far he's been pretty on point with following his campaign promises regarding topics like immigration and healthcare. This was further evidenced yesterday when the House Ways and Means Committee approved the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which replaces certain parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since its looking like the AHCA is going to become the new realm of healthcare in the U.S., here are some key facts Employers should know...
Last week, a Federal district court judge in Texas ordered a preliminary injunction against the Department of Labor's Overtime Reform set to take effect on December 1, 2016. For many of you, this is the Christmas/Holiday miracle you were waiting for. For others, it's a reminder that overtime reform remains a controversial topic and is still not a sure thing. Here is some key information you should know (and some thoughts for the future).
So I did all that Overtime Reform planning for nothing?!
Maybe, maybe not. The federal case that led to this preliminary injunction was initiated by various states challenging the Department of Labor's authority to initiate unilateral reform. This is complicated legal stuff that will probably go through various appeals before a final decision is ordered. In the meantime, the preliminary injunction preserves the status quo - meaning the current overtime laws remain in place until this lawsuit is played out. This also means that December 1, 2016 deadline is meaningless for the time being.
Remind me about the current Overtime laws, please.
Overtime is due to every non-exempt employee who works more than 40 hours in a workweek. In order to be exempt from overtime (meaning that employee does not get overtime regardless of how many hours worked), the employee must meet the salary threshold and an exemption description/category. The current law states that the salary threshold is $455 per week or $23,600 per year. As to the exemption categories, we talked about some of there key ones in this blog post. If the employee does not meet both the salary threshold and the exemption description/category, he or she is non-exempt and owed overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.
^^ This will be the law you follow until the preliminary injunction expires and/or an alternative body of reform is initiated.
What do I do while I wait?
Here's the deal: regardless of what happens with this federal lawsuit, there is a strong likelihood overtime gets reformed. It has been a pretty universal concept that overtime is in need of a makeover since it hasn't been updated in over a decade and the salary threshold no longer makes sense considering the purpose of overtime. (Read more about the pros and cons of overtime reform here). That said, I would continue to operate under the assumption that sometime (maybe soon) the salary threshold will increase. Will it continue to be the 100%+ increase we saw earlier this year? We simply do not know. However, it can never hurt to be ahead of the curve and to start prepping for these changes by formulating a business plan to accommodate an increase in overtime recipients.
To be continued....