Things I am thankful for in 2019

If Tiny Tim could be grateful despite all that he had to go through, then, by golly, I can be grateful, too!

Here’s what I’m thankful for in 2019:

1: The new overtime regulations could have been worse. Yes, the salary thresholds for the executive, administrative and some professional exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act are going to increase significantly come Jan. 1 (from $455 a week to $684 a week), but it would have been a lot worse if President Obama’s regulations — which would have increased the threshold from $455 a week to a whopping $913 a week — had ever taken effect.

Don’t miss our latest edition of ConstangyTV’s Close-Up on Workplace Law about the new regulations and what employers need to do to be ready when the regulations take effect on Jan. 1: https://www.constangy.com/newsroom-tv-26

2: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying hard to scrap the EEO-1 compensation reporting requirement. They haven’t succeeded yet, but they’re working on it, and for that I am grateful. On Wednesday, the EEOC held a public hearing, a good step toward eventually rescinding the requirement. Although a federal judge in Washington, D.C. has ordered the EEOC to continue collecting the data until further notice, the case is on appeal. You go, EEOC!

No. 3: The president’s nominees for key positions are finally in place. During the past year, Eugene Scalia became secretary of labor, Janet Dhillon became chair of the EEOC, Sharon Fast Gustafson became general counsel of the EEOC, and Cheryl Stanton became head of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division. It remains to be seen whether the regulatory landscape will become more hospitable to employers, but the outlook is good.

4: Discrimination charges are down. The EEOC’s fiscal year 2018 statistics (Oct. 1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018) showed an overall decline in most charges. In fact, EEOC charges during that fiscal year were at the lowest level since 2006. The only categories that had increases were sexual harassment (probably because of #MeToo, which I think is now past its prime) and LGBT discrimination. Probably next spring, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether sexual orientation and transgender discrimination are prohibited by Title VII.

5: Our newest Constangy blog, California Snapshot! Launched last April, the blog, run by our three California offices — in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Francisco — has been a big hit with employers seeking to comply with the laws of this strange and exotic land.

6: My awesome legal assistants Emily Andrews and Joe Calvin. I am very thankful for my firm, and for its support of this column. My role within our firms to be the drug czar supplying workplace drug-testing guidance, webinars and drug-free- workplace policies nationwide, and the local EASHRM chapter clients and friends. Of course, working in Constangy’s Opelika office has to be the very best place to work of our 30 Constangy offices nationwide.

No. 7: My family (that granddaughter of mine is cuter and smarter than ever!) and my wife of 35 years, who is my very best friend, the rest of my friends; my clients; the Church of the Highlands Correctional Ministry where we get the privilege of visiting and worshipping with the men at Red Eagle Honor Farm to help set them free; Luke 4:18; and you, dear readers! Thank you all for your support and encouragement, and I hope you have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP offices in Opelika, AL office and can be contacted at teden@constangy.com or (334) 246-2901.

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