Texas Legislative Roundup: New Laws Impacting Employers

The Texas Legislature’s 86th session adjourned on May 27, 2019, and there is little likelihood that the governor will call a special session. The legislature primarily focused on educational reforms this year. Regarding employment matters, most observers expected the legislature to adopt laws preempting any attempt by municipalities to pass paid sick leave laws. While the legislature failed to pass any such law, they did pass other laws impacting the employer-employee relationship.

Oregon Enacts Sweeping #MeToo Law

On June 11, 2019, Governor Kate Brown signed into law the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act (SB 726), which will significantly impact all Oregon employers. The Act addresses concerns of the #MeToo movement by imposing strict requirements on how Oregon employers respond to complaints of harassment and discrimination. The legislation also significantly increases the statute of limitations within which an employee may assert a claim of discrimination, from one year to five years.

Supreme Court Keeps Auer, but Dilutes Its Power

On June 26, 2019, in Kisor v. Wilkie, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to overrule its prior decisions in Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997) and Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co., 325 U.S. 410 (1945). These cases introduced the practice of judicial deference to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous regulation. Many courts and scholars criticize Auer deference for various reasons and believed that the Supreme Court’s decision in Kisor would overrule Auer. Instead, the Court upheld the longstanding precedent, but imposed new “guidance” on when to apply Auer deference.

Seventh Circuit Holds That Obesity Alone Is Not a Protected Disability Under the ADA

In a matter of first impression before the court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently held in Richardson v. Chicago Transit Authority, Nos. 17-3508 and 18-2199 (June 12, 2019), that obesity is not a protected disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) unless a plaintiff can demonstrate that it is caused by an underlying physiological disorder or condition. With the decision, the Seventh Circuit brought clarity to a novel issue previously unresolved for employers in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Substantial Changes Coming to New York Employment Discrimination Laws

On the last day of the 2019–2020 legislative session, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed an omnibus bill. This legislation, once effective, will overhaul New York’s antidiscrimination laws and uproot precedent that employers have relied upon for decades in defending harassment claims.

#MeToo-Inspired Laws Hit the Midwest: Illinois Passes Anti-harassment, Pay Equity, and Board Diversity Legislation

After ending 2018 with a slew of new employment laws, Illinois continues to enact legislation impacting employers. Following the example set by California, Washington, and other states recently, the Illinois legislature passed four new bills targeting equity, transparency, and discrimination last week, and Governor J. B. Pritzker is expected to sign them into law.

Supreme Court Rules Title VII’s Requirement to File a Charge With the EEOC Is Not Jurisdictional

On June 3, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the precondition in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requiring employees to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before commencing an action in court is not jurisdictional. Rather, the charge-filing requirement is a “nonjurisdictional claim-processing rule,” Justice Ginsburg wrote in a unanimous opinion. “[A] rule may be mandatory without being jurisdictional, and Title VII’s charge-filing requirement fits that bill,” the Court ruled.

Supreme Court Places Another Limitation on Chevron Deference

The justices of the Supreme Court of the United States have again limited the reach of Chevron deference. On May 28, 2019, the Court in Smith v. Berryhill carved another exception into what has lately proven to be its least-favored precedent. It held that Chevron deference does not apply to the scope of judicial review.

6 FAQs on Measles in the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know

On May 17, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 880 individual cases of measles had been confirmed in 23 states across the country in 2019. According to the CDC, the current outbreak of measles represents the greatest number of cases reported in the United States since 1994 and since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.

I Hate My Boss: Sixth Circuit Shuts Down ADA Request for Less Stressful Boss

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reminded employers that, even under the more liberal standard for establishing a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), an employee who claims he or she cannot perform the major life activity of “working” has to do more than prove a substantial limitation in working in a single specific job.

Eleventh Circuit Opinion Clarifies Definition of ‘Similarly Situated’ Comparators

On March 21, 2019, finding in favor of an employer seeking summary judgment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in Lewis v. City of Union City, clarified the definition of “similarly situated” comparators for claims of intentional discrimination, jettisoning the commonly cited “nearly identical” and “same or similar” standards in favor of a test asking whether comparators are “similarly situated in all material respects.”

Blockchain and HR: What You Need to Know

You have probably heard the term “blockchain,” most likely in the context of Bitcoin. You have also probably seen splashy headlines suggesting that blockchain is the next game-changing technology that will upend the business world. This article will demystify blockchain technology and identify some of its potential applications for human resources (HR).

EEOC’s Proposed Changes May Lead to Increased Charge Activity and Subsequent Litigation

On February 22, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to update and amend procedural regulations to fully digitize the EEOC’s charge processing and records systems, clarify the meaning and significance of a “no cause” determination, and delegate the issuance of dismissals to lower-level EEOC employees.

New Year, New Laws: Further Guidance on Complying With New York’s Anti–Sexual Harassment Laws

New York State and New York City passed sweeping laws aimed at combating sexual harassment in the workplace last year. While many requirements of these laws already went into effect in 2018, the annual anti–sexual harassment training requirement under the Stop Sexual Harassment in New York City Act goes into effect on April 1, 2019.

Working for the Weekend: Denial of Pay Premium Due to FMLA-Related Absences Does Not Violate the FMLA

On January 8, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas issued an opinion and order granting summary judgment to an employer, finding the employer did not violate the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by discontinuing an employee’s shift differential due to absences necessitated by FMLA leave.

1 More Hour of Sleep but 4 More Wage and Hour Problems as Daylight Saving Time Ends

On Sunday, November 4, 2018, at 2:00 a.m., daylight saving time will end. This World War I–era practice of turning back the clock one hour in the fall became a federal law in the United States when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act in 1966. The jury is still out on whether “falling back” is beneficial. Claims that it helps to conserve energy are dubious. Most people probably don’t get an extra hour of sleep that night. And, the time change doesn’t actually increase the number of hours of sunlight per day. However, it does present a good opportunity for employers to examine their timekeeping practices with regard to nonexempt employees.