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SHRM HR Policy Briefing

June 15, 2022 Update:

The US Supreme Court Just Ruled in Favor of Employers Who Utilize Employee Arbitration Agreements

Today, the US Supreme Court ruled that employee arbitration agreements are enforceable when they are governed by the Federal Arbitration Act and prohibit class action suits by employees. What is remarkable about this decision, Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, is that it is even enforceable in California, and even when employees bring class-action suits under California state law. 

HR lawyers fight hard to stop class action lawsuits from being filed against employers.  Class action lawsuits are very expensive to defend and/or settle.  For some smaller employers, they are “bet the company” lawsuits.  That is why it is so important for employers to not just have employee arbitration agreements in place, but for those agreements to contain class-action waiver language within them.

Click here for more information on the SHRM website.

June 3, 2022 Update:

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address the Distinction Between Independent Workers and Employees

Jessica Looman, acting administrator of the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), announced the WHD will be issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking to address the distinction between independent workers and employees. The WHD will be hosting listening sessions in advance of rulemaking to allow the business community to share its perspective on independent contractor classification.

The Trump Administration rule clarifying independent contractor status is currently in effect after being reinstated by a district court in the Eastern District of Texas in March. The Biden Administration had delayed and ultimately withdrawn the Trump-era rule in 2021. SHRM opposed the withdrawal of the Trump-era rule because it provided clarity for HR professionals in establishing and maintaining independent worker compliance engagement and management practices. This rule was also grounded in sound public policy and case law.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees are entitled to minimum wage, overtime pay and other benefits. Independent contractors are not entitled to these benefits, but they generally have more flexibility to set their own schedules and work for multiple companies. SHRM will continue monitoring this issue and advocating for a final rule that promotes efficiency, flexibility, and freedom for all participants in the economy

Public Forums will be held as follows:

May 24, 2022 Update:

As the nation recognizes the importance of mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month, SHRM Government Affairs asks that you contact your lawmakers to urge the inclusion of committee report language in the FY 2023 Appropriations Bill that would direct the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to enable recipients of Community Mental Health Block Grants (MHBG) to aid in workplace mental health.

HR is the answer. HR professionals oversee mental health resources, connecting workers with support and educating people managers about supporting staff—all of which help to create a workplace culture that is mental-health-friendly. Lawmakers need to hear from HR professionals like yourselves.

Take Action with SHRM to support mental health and contact your lawmakers by texting Wellness to 52886 or click here.

Earlier this month, SHRM shared a factsheet and research with members of Congress to help policymakers understand that HR is part of the solution to addressing mental health challenges.

April 4, 2022 Updates:

House Passes 'SECURE Act 2.0' Requiring Automatic Enrollment in Retirement Plans

On March 29, the House overwhelmingly approved the bipartisan Securing a Strong Retirement Act by a vote of 414 to 5. The bill, dubbed the SECURE Act 2.0, builds on the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which was signed into law in December 2019. SHRM has not taken a formal position on the SECURE Act 2.0, but will monitor this legislation and continue to work with Congress to support federal policies that enable employers to offer retirement savings plans valued by workers. 

SHRM Advocacy Results in Expanded Access to Telehealth 

SHRM successfully advocated for policy changes in telehealth in the recently adopted omnibus spending bill.

The omnibus reinstates regulations that give employers the option to cover telehealth services, making it easier for individuals in underserved communities to access mental health care that would not otherwise be available due to a lack of local providers.

SHRM research found that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, 43 percent of organizations expanded telehealth services and 49 percent maintained telehealth benefits.

“Any way that you can contribute more readily to keeping your employees healthy is a plus for the employee and the employer,” SHRM Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs Emily M. Dickens told Bloomberg

FAIR Act Passes the House of Representatives 

The House of Representatives adopted H.R. 963, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, by a vote of 222-209 on March 17. The bill would prohibit the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements for employment purposes.

As employers are asked to do more—like provide paid leave and flexibility, child and dependent care subsidies, and stronger inclusion practices—the task for development and implementation falls to HR professionals. With so much change occurring, these professionals are reliant upon tried-and-true practices to address long-standing workplace concerns like pre-dispute arbitration agreements.

SHRM opposes the FAIR Act because, by prohibiting the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements for employment purposes, it undermines the ability of HR professionals to deliver positive social and organizational change on behalf of our country’s workers.

Before the bill is considered in the Senate, SHRM Government Affairs asks HR professionals to contact their lawmakers to oppose H.R. 963. Tell Congress arbitration is fair and effective—providing employees procedural protection without costly litigation—by texting SHRM to 52886 or filling out this form

SHRM called on Congress to oppose the FAIR Act and instead collaborate with our members to identify issues that most positively impact our workplaces, including paid leave and flexibility, dependent care options, and enhancing the education-to-employment pipeline.

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