News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Employee Health Care Deductibles Continue to Rise

KaiserFamilyFoundation logoThe Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and Health Research & Educational Trust recently released their 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey.  The Survey revealed “83% of covered workers have a general annual deductible for single coverage that must be met before most services are paid for by the plan. … Among all covered workers, those enrolled at firms with a deductible and those without, the average deductible is $1,221” – a 13% increase from $1,077 in 2015.  Higher deductibles may discourage patients from seeking care, therefore leading to smaller increases in premium costs.  The Survey revealed the average family premium rose 3% from 2015, as well as that “covered workers contribute 18% of the premium for single coverage and 30% of the premium for family coverage, similar percentages to the recent past.”  The Survey was conducted via interviews with 1,933 firms from January 2016 to June 2016.  For additional information, see the KFF 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey page.

EEOC Issues Rules on Employer Wellness Plan Incentives

EEOC LogoThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued two rules on “how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, Pub. Law 101-336, 7/26/90) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA, Pub. L. 110-233, 5/21/08) apply to wellness programs offered by employers that request health information from employees and their spouses.”  The ADA rule [81 Fed. Reg. 31126, 5/17/16] specifies such wellness programs that are part of a group health plan “may offer incentives of up to 30 percent of the total cost of self-only coverage.”  The GINA rule [81 Fed. Reg. 31143, 5/17/16] specifies “that the value of the maximum incentive attributable to a spouse’s participation may not exceed 30 percent of the total cost of self-only coverage, the same incentive allowed for the employee.”  Wellness programs part of a group health plan still must comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) nondiscrimination provisions [Pub. L. 104-191, Title I, Sec. 101, 8/21/96;  29 U.S.C. 1182], as amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [Pub. Law 111-148, Title 1, Sec. 1201, 3/23/10;  42 U.S.C. 300gg], as well as HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach notification requirements.  Both of the new EEOC rules “prohibit employers from requiring employees or their family members to agree to the sale, exchange, transfer, or other disclosure of their health information to participate in a wellness program or to receive an incentive.  Both rules also specify “that information from wellness programs may be disclosed to employers only in aggregate terms.”  The new EEOC rules will be effective 7/18/16, and will become applicable 1/1/17.  For more information, see the 5/16/16 EEOC Press Release.

Labor and Employment Law Writing Competition

Job Application

If you were a student in Prof. Green’s employment law seminar in Fall 2015, consider getting more mileage out of the paper you wrote to fulfill the requirements for the class. The Louis Jackson National Student Writing Competition in Employment and Labor Law is accepting entries for this year’s competition. Judges will consider papers on topics covering employment, labor, employee benefits, or employment discrimination. One award of $3,000 and two awards of $1,000 will be presented to the top three entrants. The submission deadline is coming up quickly – Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

C|M|LAW Prof & Alumni Win Sixth Circuit Appeal and Protect Teachers’ Rights

Congratulations to our Clinic faculty and two recent law student graduates.  They helped create an important precedent to protect teachers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio from losing their civil rights.  The case is Smith v. Perkins Board of Education, No. 12-3187 (6th Cir. Feb. 27, 2013), which is recommended for full text publication.

Professor Ed Kramer of the C|M|LAW Fair Housing Clinic and attorneys Jeremy Samuels and Brad Eier, former students in the Clinic, filed a brief in the federal U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, asserting that the trial court improperly granted summary judgment to the defendant School Board.  Carol Smith, who at 71 was the oldest teacher in the school system when she was fired, alleged wrongful termination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, retaliation, age discrimination in violation of ORC 4112.14, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The trial court found that the ADA and retaliation claims were barred because a state administrative agency decided that Ms. Smith was terminated for just cause, so collateral estoppel applied.  The Sixth Circuit held that an unreviewed finding by a state administrative agency was not binding on the federal court via the doctrine of collateral estoppel in an Americans with Disabilities Act claim.   Because ORC 4112.14 specifically provided that such an agency decision would preclude a lawsuit under that statute, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s decision as to the age discrimination claim.

This decision is important because Ohio teachers will no longer lose their rights under the federal civil rights laws if they follow the state termination procedure.  This case established that Univ. of Tenn. v. Elliott, 478 U.S. 788, 799 (1986) applies to the ADA, and the Sixth Circuit follows other Circuits disallowing the use of estoppel or res judicata to bar these independent claims.

Another important part of the decision was the Sixth Circuit’s holding that the District Court improperly granted summary judgment sua sponte to the defendant on alternative grounds.    The defendant only asserted the collateral estoppel argument, so the plaintiff did not have notice that the court would decide based upon the grounds it did.    ( The district court addressed Plaintiff’s reasonable accommodations claim on the merits, finding that Plaintiff’s requested accommodations were either provided to her or were unreasonable.  The district court also determined that Plaintiff’s claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress had not been sufficiently pleaded.)  Also,  the plaintiff did not have an opportunity for full discovery before the trial court reached its decision.






ABA Labor and Employment Law Student Writing Competition

The ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers have posted information on the 2011-2012 Annual Law Student Writing Competition. Submissions may address “any aspect of public or private sector labor and/or employment law relevant to the American labor and employment bar.” The competition is open to all law students who have not graduated prior to December 1, 2011. Cash prizes are: $1500 for first place, $1000 for second place, and $500 for third place. The first-place article will be published in the ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law. Submission deadline is May 15, 2012. For complete submission information, see the posting.