Labor, Employment and Benefits Law Update

11/10/2008           Attorneys           Firm News           Events
Tentative Settlement Reached in Religious Discrimination Lawsuit at Gold’n Plump Facility in Minnesota
By Chris M. Heffelbower

In September 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and Muslim employees reached a tentative settlement in their religious discrimination lawsuit against Gold’n Plump Poultry, Inc.  The lawsuit alleged that the company failed to provide religious accommodation by prohibiting Muslim employees who practice Islam to engage in prayer and other violations of the law.  Gold’n Plump denied that it engaged in any unlawful religious discrimination and argued that it reasonably accommodated the religious practices of its employees.
The EEOC Provides New Guidance on Religious Discrimination in the Workplace
By Chris M. Heffelbower and Jay Reding*
In July, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a new section to its Compliance Manual concerning religious discrimination in the workplace.  This new section, identified as “Section 12” of the Compliance Manual, provides insight into the EEOC’s position on the law and provides guidance to employers regarding best practices for avoiding liability for religious discrimination claims.  Section 12 of the Compliance Manual covers a wide-wage of topics, including the definition of “religion,” what constitutes “religious harassment,” and the circumstances under which an employer must accommodate the religious practices and beliefs of its employees.
Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008
By Bruce J. Douglas and Britta L. Orr*
As part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, signed by President Bush on October 3, 2008, Congress included provisions relating to mental health parity which amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Public Health Service Act, and the Internal Revenue Code.  In broad brush, these provisions mandate that any group health plan that provides both medical and surgical benefits as well as mental health or substance use disorder benefits make the latter no more restrictive than the former.  In other words, when offered, mental health benefits must be treated the same as physical health benefits. 
Retirement Plan Limits for 2009
By Mary L. Komornicka

The IRS has just released the new Cost-of-Living Adjustments for retirement plans. 
HEART Act’s Impact on Employee Benefits
By Mary L. Komornicka
The Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act, enacted this summer, contains some easily-overlooked provisions that may have significant impact on your company’s employee benefit programs.  In general, these provisions are voluntary and only apply if you have employees who have been called to active military duty. However, a few provisions are mandatory.      

This alert is provided as a service to our clients and firm associates.  While the information provided in this publication is believed to be accurate, it is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.
November 2008 
About our Practice:
The Larkin Hoffman employment law team identifies and resolves workplace issues in this rapidly evolving and highly regulated area.  Our attorneys provide counsel and advice to employers.  We represent employers in state and federal courts and administrative agencies including the EEOC, MHRA, NLRB, OSHA and DOL.

Contact our employment law attorneys: 
Email 952.896.3275
Email 952.896.3312
Bruce J Douglas
Email 952.896.1569
Email 952.896.3288
Chris M Heffelbower
Email 952.896.1543
Sejal Desai Winkelman
Email 952.896.3325
Carrie L Zochert
Email 952.896.3353
Julia H Halbach
Email 952.896.3264

Contact our employee benefits law attorneys:
Email 952.896.3355
Email 952.896.3270
Email 952.896.3225