In the past few months, a number of state and local developments have emerged that are likely to resonate across the country. The following is a tour of some of the most recent and significant state-specific legislation, legal rulings, and other developments occurring around the United States.


California Court Deems Truck Drivers Employees, Not Independent Contractors

A recent unpublished California Court of Appeal decision in a case titled Garcia v. Seacon Logix, Inc. highlights the factors that courts consider in determining whether a worker can be classified as an independent contractor rather than as an employee. The principal test of an employment relationship is whether the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired, but there are also a number of secondary factors to be considered. The determination requires careful analysis of the legal criteria and a thorough review of the actual working relationship between the workers and the business.

Washington, D.C.

D.C. Commuter Benefits Are Almost Here: Employers Must Comply by January 1, 2016

Employers with 20 or more employees working in the District of Columbia must comply with a new law that requires them to offer commuter benefits to employees by January 1, 2016. The ordinance aims to encourage employees to use public transportation rather than drive alone to work.


Florida’s Minimum Wage Likely to Remain Unchanged on January 1, 2016

Florida law requires a new state minimum wage calculation on September 30 of each year, based on the Consumer Price Index. If that calculation proves higher than the federal rate, the state’s rate would be adjusted and would then take effect the following January. This coming year no change is expected to occur. According to documentation listed on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website, in 2016 the Florida minimum wage will remain at $8.05 ($5.03 for tipped employees) per hour. The Florida minimum wage will prevail over the federal rate until (and unless) the federal minimum wage becomes higher than the state rate.


Louisiana Legislature Ensures Franchisees Are the Sole Employers of Their Workers

The Louisiana legislature recently passed Act 404 of the 2015 legislative session, clarifying that in most circumstances franchisees are the sole employers of their employees. The bill was signed by Governor Bobby Jindal on July 1, 2015, and went into effect on August 1, 2015.


New Maine Social Media Privacy Law Takes Effect October 15, 2015

Maine has become the latest state to restrict employers’ ability to access social media accounts of employees and applicants. A new Maine statute, which went into effect on October 15, 2015, prohibits a broad range of employer conduct, but includes certain exceptions that are helpful to employers, such as limiting the restrictions only to personal social media accounts and excluding information publicly available about an employee or applicant.


Massachusetts Policies and Procedures “Checkup”: The Top 10 Areas for Review

Take a quick tour of the top 10 areas employers should include in their policies and procedures checkup to ensure they are compliant with Massachusetts employment laws. This overview includes provisions on parental leave, domestic violence leave, sick leave, pay practice and policies, tipping and no-tipping policies, criminal background checks, written information security plans, “blue laws,” sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity policies, and even inclement weather policies.


St. Louis Minimum Wage Hike Struck Down at the 11th Hour

Hours before a St. Louis ordinance increasing the city’s minimum wage was set to take effect, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Steven Ohmer struck down the ordinance. The ordinance, which passed on August 28, with an effective date of October 15, would have increased the city’s minimum wage to $8.25 per hour and would have created other obligations for St. Louis City employers.

New York

New York Expands Discrimination Protections Against Workplace Gender Bias

On October 21, 2015, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a number of bills, which cumulatively expand protections against gender discrimination, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Included in the comprehensive legislation are five bills, which will be of particular importance to employers. These new laws seek to achieve greater pay equity for women; expand coverage of sexual harassment protections to the smallest employers and significantly increase remedies available under state sex discrimination law; prohibit discrimination based on family status; and mandate employers of pregnant employees to provide certain reasonable accommodations.

Rhode Island

Employers’ Bundle of Joy: The Rhode Island General Assembly Passes Mandatory Reasonable Accommodation Law for Pregnant and Nursing Women

On June 25, 2015, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed and Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed legislation making it an unlawful employment practice under the state’s Fair Employment Practices Act for an employer to refuse to reasonably accommodate an employee’s or prospective employee’s condition “related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”


Blocked: Managing Social Media at Work Under Virginia’s New Privacy Law

Virginia joined dozens of other states last month by imposing limits on employer access to such accounts. Under the new law, codified at Virginia Code § 40.1-28.7:5, an employer may not require current or prospective employees to disclose their social media usernames or passwords. The law also aimed to limit employer monitoring by prohibiting employers from requiring that current or prospective employees add supervisors, administrators, or other employees to their social media contact lists.

For more information on these state-specific rulings or developments, visit Ogletree Deakins’ Insights page.


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Governmental Affairs

Ogletree Governmental Affairs, Inc. (OGA), a subsidiary of Ogletree Deakins, is a full service legislative and regulatory affairs consulting firm, dedicated to helping clients solve their problems with the public sector. OGA unites the skills and experience of government relations professionals with the talent of the Firm’s lawyers to provide solutions to regulatory issues outside the courtroom.

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