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Workplace Initiatives and Strategies for Employers

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New Jersey Law Protects Employees Who Must Take Time Off Because of COVID-19 and Issue Executive Order Limiting Business Operations After passing through the legislature unanimously in a matter of days, on March 20, 2020, Governor Murphy signed a law providing additional employee protections related to COVID-19. The law is effective immediately and prohibits employers from terminating or retaliating against an employee who requests or takes time off because the employee has, or is likely to have, an infectious disease. The law also provides reinstatement rights. The next day, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 107 (EO 107), which limits certain…
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued a new emergency order today, March 23, 2020, concerning the continued operations of “essential services,” the closure of certain workplaces, and revised assemblage restrictions (the “Order”). Below is a non-exhaustive list of key provisions of the Order. If you have any questions about your specific business operations or other COVID-19 related matters, please let us know. The Order creates a list of business operations and services that are considered essential and are deemed “COVID-19 Essential Services.” This list can be found here. All COVID-19 Essential Services are urged to continue operating but should follow…
New Jersey Supreme Court Issues Final Say on Workplace Protections for Employee Medical Cannabis Use On Tuesday, March 10th, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its much anticipated decision in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc., et al.,(A-91-18) (082836), affirming that a medical cannabis patient can assert a claim for employment discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) for an adverse employment action based on an employee’s off-site medical cannabis use. Notably, the Court did not address the recently enacted Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, which amended the Compassionate Use Act and included new statutory protections…
Virginia and Colorado are now the fourth and fifth states, respectively, and Montgomery County, Maryland is the first local government to ban hair discrimination. The bans in all three jurisdictions clarify that discrimination based on a person’s hairstyle or texture is a form of racial discrimination. The Virginia ban was made official on March 4, 2020 when Governor Ralph Northam signed Senate Bill 50. The bill amends the Virginia Human Rights Act to add a section that specifically expands the terms “because of race” and “on the basis of race” to include “traits historically associated with race, including hair…
Labor and Employment Counsel Ira Shepard Discusses Human Resources and The Courts In February, several labor and employment law cases and regulatory actions with implications for the higher education workplace were decided. In a blog post for CUPA-HR, Counsel Ira Shepard summarized the latest. The following issues are discussed: Immigrant insensitive social media post is insufficient grounds to sustain discharge. NLRB’s processing of Adjunct Professors’ unionization petition at a Church operated school dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Harvard tenure denial affirmed and Professor’s gender bias retaliation claims dismissed. University of Miami must defend Professor’s Gender biased salary discrimination claims.…
Today, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) is issuing a much anticipated final rule providing guidance on determining whether two employers are “joint employers” for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”). The joint employer standard determines whether a business is treated as the employer of employees directly employed by another, separate employer. The potential for a joint employer relationship is therefore of particular concern for businesses that engage staffing companies; that participate in franchise arrangements; and that are party to a parent-sub relationship, among others. If two businesses are held determined to be joint employers of…
More than 2,000 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in federal courts each year in 2018 and 2019, alerting business owners of the rising trend in website accessibility litigation. This trend is not going to slow down, as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the Ninth Circuit in the case Robles v. Domino‘s Pizza, LLC, which many hoped would provide nationwide clarity on the law in this area. With the Supreme Court declining to hear the case, business owners are required to comply with inconsistent decisions across the federal and state judiciaries, amid a regulatory vacuum from…
Mandatory Severance Payments, Longer Notice Periods and Other Key Provisions of the 2020 New Jersey Warn Act New Jersey amended its existing WARN Act, otherwise known as the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (“NJ WARN Act”), and it will have significant impact on employers considering mass layoffs, transfers and termination of operations statewide.New Jersey’s new mini-WARN materially alters employer obligations and departs substantially from the Federal WARN statute. Employers need to understand their potential obligation to pay mandatory severance, provide written notice to employees and other requirements under the new law. Failure to understand these obligations could…
Employers are not Required to Continuously Rearrange Shifts to Accommodate Workers’ Religious Needs Employers recently received a favorable ruling when a federal district court in Wisconsin held that a retail store was not required to re-arrange shifts to accommodate an applicant’s religious beliefs. In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Walmart Stores East LP and Walmart, Inc., the plaintiff applied for a salaried assistant manager position at a Walmart store. After being offered the position, the plaintiff disclosed for the first time that he was a Seventh Day Adventist, and due to his faith, he would not be able to work…
Happy New Year, Employers! From Your Friends at the NLRB. In December, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a flurry of employer-friendly decisions.  Management can toast the following end-of-year gifts and look forward to continuing success at the Board in the new year. Ambush Election Rule Out with the old:  In 2014, the Obama-era Board instituted its infamous “ambush election” rules, which set very tight election time limits, foreclosed employers from litigating critical issues of bargaining unit scope and voter eligibility before the election, and effectively limited an employer’s ability to educate its workers about the pitfalls of unionization.…
2020 Preview: Minimum Wages Rise in 24 States Plus D.C. In 2019, we saw significant activity in state legislatures passing employment-related laws in areas where federal government efforts had stalled, like paid sick leave, non-compete agreements and workplace discrimination. Another important area where states took action concerns the raising of minimum hourly wages. In fact, workers in half the states (25 including D.C.) will see an increase in hourly minimum wage rates at some point in 2020. The chart below details which states are affected by minimum wage increases in 2020 and what those increases will be. States in which…
D.C. Seeks to Join Movement Against Non-Compete Agreements The Washington, D.C. City Council is considering a proposed bill that would ban non-compete agreements for workers making nearly six-figures, titled the Ban on Noncompete Agreements Act of 2019. Non-compete agreements, as defined by the bill, are written agreements between an employer and employee that restrict or bar the employee from employment at another employer in a particular geographic area or for a defined period of time. Employers typically have their employees sign non-compete agreements to prevent them from going to a direct competitor immediately after their employment is terminated. The proposed…
According to data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), in 2018, 6.9% of all sexual harassment charges submitted to the EEOC were filed in Illinois, representing the third highest concentration for any state, behind Texas (9.7%) and Florida (9.6%). Notably, that number has increased each year since 2014. Enter the Illinois legislature, which, earlier this year, passed an extensive new law designed to weed out discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The law, dubbed the Workplace Transparency Act (“WTA”), combats unlawful employment practices through a variety of methods, including limits on non-disclosure agreements, mandatory reporting of certain claims, and…
As referenced in our prior WISE blog article here, earlier this year Illinois enacted legislation legalizing recreational marijuana for adults, effective January 1, 2020 (the “Adult Use Act”).  However, given the ambiguity in the original legislation as it related to employer liability and, more specifically, the liability for terminating (or withdrawing a job offer for) employees for testing positive for marijuana, the Illinois legislature recently passed (and the Governor signed into law), an amendment (SB 1557) that clarifies what employers can and cannot do under the Adult Use Act. The primary source of confusion for employers under…
Pennsylvania Court Finds Employee Can Assert Claim Against Employer Under State’s Medical Marijuana Act The Lackawanna Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania held, in a matter of first impression, that language in the state’s Medical Marijuana Act (“MMA”) creates a private right of action for an employee that is terminated for off-site use of medical marijuana.  In Palmiter v. Commonwealth Health Systems, et al. , the court decided that although that statute does not expressly provide a private right of action, its explicit language that “[n]o employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against…
On November  20, 2019, the Commonwealth’s highest court issued a significant decision regarding overtime compensation, which makes it illegal for employers to use the “fluctuating work week” method (“FWW”) to calculate overtime.  In this significant departure from longstanding wage and hour practices and federal law, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania outlawed the FWW method because it does not guarantee non-exempt employees at least one-and-one-half times their regular rate for working more than 40 hours per workweek, as required by state law.  GNC Store Managers Bring Suit for Overtime Violations This decision arose from the matter of Tawny Chevalier et al.…