In wake of high court rulings, examine workplace policies

As published in the July 22 edition of the Sioux Falls Business Journal  by Sandra Hoglund Hanson

Recent historic Supreme Court decisions have employers across the nation taking a closer look at their policies, procedures, and benefits. For specific questions, it’s best to call your lawyer, but the following is an overview of how the decisions may impact employers.

First, the United States Supreme Court has both upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and ruled that same sex marriage is a constitutional right, effectively striking down state law bans on same sex marriage.

What this means for employers:
  • Stay the course in the area of employee health care benefits, at least for the time being. The ACA has been extremely controversial, but it has weathered two Supreme Court decisions. Opponents of the ACA continue to question its legality in three areas: House Republicans’ pending lawsuit disputing the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies, the contraception mandate as applied to employers with religious objections, and the fate of the ACA’s Independent Payment Advisory Board.
  • It is time to review employee policies, procedures, handbooks, and benefits to make sure they comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling that same sex spouses have the same rights and receive the same benefits as opposite sex spouses.

Second, the United States Department of Labor has proposed a rule to expand overtime pay to millions of employees nationwide.

What this means for employers:
  • The proposed rule would raise the minimum salary threshold for “white collar” exempt employees from $455 per week ($23,660 annual salary) to $970 per week ($50,440 annual salary) and may change the duties tests for these employees. If the proposed rule takes effect, employers will need to examine the salary and duties of those they treat as “white collar” exempt employees to make sure they satisfy both the salary threshold and any changes to the duties tests.

For specific questions, an employment lawyer can help you understanding these developments and provide practical advice to keep your business in compliance.

Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, LLP, located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is one of the state’s largest law firms. The firm’s attorneys provide business and litigation counsel to individuals and corporate clients in a variety of practice areas. For more information about Davenport Evans, visit