Likely unknown to most individuals, the Affordable Care Act not only changed employees’ rights regarding access to health insurance, but has also given them added rights and protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Here are a few examples:
Auto-Enrollment Provision: The Affordable Care Act added new Section 18A to the FLSA, requiring employers covered by the FLSA that have more than 200 full-time employees to automatically enroll new full-time employees in one of the employer’s offered health plans. Employees must also receive an opportunity to “opt out.” This requirement will only go into enforcement once the regulations become effective, a date unknown at this time. Nevertheless, when § 18A does go into effect, it likely will not take long before an employee files suit against his/her employer, claiming that the employer violated the employees’ new § 18A rights by failing to either automatically enroll him/her in the employer-offered health plans or whether the employer failed to give an “opt-out” opportunity to the employee.
Lactation Breaks Provision: The Affordable Care Act amended the FLSA to require employers to provide nursing mothers with reasonable breaks and a private, non-bathroom area to express breast milk. This requirement applies to all employers covered by the FLSA, except for those with fewer than 50 employees. This provision is interesting and gives employees a new tool for suing their employers for retaliating or discriminating against them based on their need to express breast milk while at work. Until now, such situations have been litigated under other legal theories such as pregnancy discrimination laws, however, now the FLSA has added some teeth to an employee’s right to take breaks while at work for lactation purposes.
Anti-Retaliation Provision: The Affordable Care Act also added Section 18C to the FLSA, which includes retaliation protections related to requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, employers may not discriminate against or fire an employee because he or she received a tax credit or subsidy for enrolling in a qualified health plan, objected to an activity or practice he or she believed was a violation of the Affordable Care Act, or assisted in an investigation regarding a violation. This anti-retaliation provision will likely be very similar to the one that already exists in the FLSA relating to wage and hour claims such as overtime or minimum wage violations. In the end, this provision simply gives an employee added protection when exercising their rights under the Affordable Care Act.
If you have been fired, discriminated against, denied wages, or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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