By Byrona J. Maule | Phillips Murrah P.C. | Paycom Report
[ JUNE, 2009 – OKLAHOMA CITY, OK ] – If anyone had told me when I graduated from law school 24 years ago that 99% of my legal research would be done on a computer– a great deal of it on free Web sites – I would have roared with laughter. But in today’s world, many courts and almost all governmental agencies (both state and federal) offer free Web sites with the latest laws, regulations, opinion letters, cases and legal reference material. There is so much information out there – available for free – if you just know where to look.
But there’s one catch. Because the law is continually changing, the important Web sites are continually changing. One day, it’s the Americans with Disabilities Act that changes; the next day, it’s wage and hour laws impacting overtime and minimum wage. One day, it’s the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that impacts COBRA coverage; the next day it’s amendments to the Family Medical Leave Act and the implementation of Military Family Leave.
To help you navigate the rapidly-changing laws that shape our workplaces, I’m giving you the inside scoop on the top Web sites for 2009, with a short explanation of the information available to you. I hope it is as useful for you as it is for me!
Your Go-To Web Sites
1. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. www.eeoc.gov
This is the most important Web site for any human resources manager to visit. Hosted by the EEOC, it provides direct insight into the interpretation of discrimination laws and sets forth its enforcement strategies.
- Enforcement Guidances and Laws. www.eeoc.gov/policy/guidance.html
Here you will find guidances issued by the EEOC. For example, you can find the latest information regarding caregiver discrimination in the Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities, a guidance published by the EEOC in April 2009.
- Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment. www.eeoc.gov/types/ada.html
This amendment was signed into law in September 2008 and made sweeping changes to the ADA.
2. United States Department of Labor. www.dol.gov
After discrimination, wage and hour issues are probably the most time-consuming for human resources professionals. The United States Department of Labor Web site has the most up-to-date information, including enforcement and interpretation of DOL statutes and regulations.
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. www.dol.gov/recovery
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act changes to COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance. www.dol.gov/ebsa/COBRA.html
- Wage and Hour information. www.dol.gov/esa/whd
Look here for overtime and minimum wage enforcement and applicable exemptions.
- FMLA and Military Family Leave. www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/index.htm
In this section, you will find information on both regulations and enforcement.
- Wage and Hour Opinion Letters. www.dol.gov/esa/whd/opinion/opinion.htm
These valuable opinions provide direct insight into how the DOL interprets and enforces the statutes and regulations.
Many states have additional protections for employees that go beyond federal laws. So, in addition to the Web sites provided in this article, you should become familiar with the applicable sites for every state in which your company has employees. Because – let’s be honest – in this economy, free is good. And what better way to understand how the government is going to act on an issue than peeking into their own free, online publications!