Reopening Texas: Governor Abbott Issues Phase II Executive Order

On May 18, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-23 as part of his three-phase plan to reopen the economy in Texas. The three-phase plan is outlined in a report entitled “Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.” Executive Order GA-23 is Phase II of the plan and follows Executive Order GA-18 (issued April 27, 2020) and Executive Order GA-21 (issued May 5, 2020). Executive Order GA-23 “continu[es] through June 3, 2020, subject to extension based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC.”

Cal/OSHA Issues COVID-19 Related Guidance for Dine-In Restaurants

On May 12, 2020, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) (better known as Cal/OSHA) issued its COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Dine-In Restaurants, which provides detailed guidance to dine-in restaurants, brewpubs, craft distilleries, breweries, bars, pubs, and wineries that provide sit-down meals on how to support safe and clean work environments for employees and customers.

Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Releases Reopening Guidance for Restaurants and Hotels

On April 27, 2020, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) released its Critical COVID-19 Guidance Standards for Hospitality Reopening. The FRLA, with input from its restaurant subject matter expert team, developed the guidance in order to safely and expediently reopen restaurants to combat the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia Governor Issues Executive Order Allowing Businesses to Reopen

On April 2, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order No. 04.03.20.01 ordering all Georgia citizens to stay at home, unless they are (1) conducting or participating in “Essential Services;” (2) performing “Necessary Travel;” (3) engaged in the performance of or travel to and from the performance of “Minimum Basic Operations” for a business not classified as “Critical Infrastructure;” or (4) actively engaged in the performance of, or travel to and from, employment for a business classified as “Critical Infrastructure.”

Federal Judge Dismisses Two Braille Gift Card Cases in First Decisions to Tackle Novel Issue

In handing down the first decisions of their kind, a federal district court in New York rejected two plaintiffs’ claims that retailers, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation were required to offer Braille gift cards to visually impaired customers. Although the court gave the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaints, the reasoning of the decisions soundly rejected the theories advanced by a group of plaintiffs and their lawyers in 249 nearly identical cases filed in the fall of 2019.

Small Business Task Force Proposes Initial Plans to ‘Reopen Alabama Responsibly’

On April 17, 2020, the Alabama Small Business Commission Emergency Task Force and the Subcommittee to Reopen the Economy released “Reopen Alabama Responsibly,” a detailed report and series of recommendations on resuming business operations during the next stage of the fight against the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philadelphia Fair Workweek Ordinance: What Retail and Hospitality Employers Need to Know

We first wrote about Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek Employment Standards Ordinance shortly after it was signed into law on December 20, 2018. Now, with the Mayor’s Office of Labor having issued final regulations on February 3, 2020, and the ordinance having taken effect on April 1, 2020, we offer a brief overview of the ordinance along with additional information for retailers as they implement procedures to comply with the ordinance’s provisions. Enforcement of some aspects of the ordinance, such as its good-faith estimates requirement, will not go into effect until July 1, 2020.

California Governor Newsom Calls for Senior and At Risk Californians to Self-Isolate and Directs Business Closures

In an effort to increase social distancing in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on March 15, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom held a news conference in which he issued an executive order calling for the home isolation of all individuals who are 65 and older, as well as individuals with chronic health conditions.

Keeping Up With New Jersey Employment Law Developments

It was a busy January 2020 in Trenton, with the state enacting several new employment laws, with more apparently on the way. This is in addition to the slew of new laws adopted in 2019 impacting New Jersey employers. Here’s a summary of recent employment law developments in New Jersey just one month into 2020, a look at what may be on the way, and a recap of 2019’s changes.

The Who, What, and When on Illinois’s Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Now a little more than one month into the new year, Illinois employers are under pressure to comply with several new laws increasing protections against discrimination and harassment. Among them, amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act require employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training before December 31, 2020, and each calendar year after that. New guidance published January 31, 2020, by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) clarifies key aspects of the new law.

NLRB Restores Employers’ Right to Restrict Employees’ Personal Use of Company Email and Other IT Resources

In Caesars Entertainment d/b/a Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, Case 28-CA-060841 (December 16, 2019), the National Labor Relations Board ruled that employees do not have a statutory right under the National Labor Relations Act to use their employer’s email system or other information technology (IT) resources for Section 7 purposes, such as union organizing.

Common Neutrality Agreement Provisions Between Union and Hotel May Violate the NLRA

On November 20, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Office of the General Counsel granted an appeal filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF) on behalf of a hotel housekeeper in Seattle finding that a neutrality agreement arguably violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and that the hotel’s recognition of the union pursuant to that agreement was unlawful.

Is Next-Day Pay the Next Big Thing?

Among the hardest-to-find workers in America today are restaurant and retail workers. The current labor market is the tightest in 49 years, and for the past year, there have been roughly a million more open positions in the United States than people looking for work. The hospitality sector always has faced recruitment challenges, but the recently shrinking applicant pool has forced employers to look for creative ways to lure workers to jobs in the food service and retail industries.

California Court of Appeal Identifies Triggers for Reporting Time Pay Obligation

In a ruling that will have a significant impact on the retail and restaurant industries, among others in California, the California Court of Appeal ruled that a retail employer’s call-in scheduling policy—in which employees were required to call the employer in advance of a shift to find out if they needed to show up for

Readying Your Workplace for the Summer and Start of Hurricane Season: Rising Minimum Wage and Other Considerations for Employers in the U.S. Virgin Islands

With just weeks left before the start of summer, employers in the U.S. Virgin Islands may wish to ensure that they are in compliance with applicable laws governing wage payments. Effective June 1, 2018, the Virgin Islands minimum wage will increase from $9.50 per hour to $10.50 per hour.

Congress and the DOL Wade Into the Tip Pool, Reverse Obama-Era Regulations

Restaurant owners have been anxiously awaiting the Department of Labor’s (DOL) guidance regarding proper participation and operation of tip pools after the passage of the March 23, 2018, Consolidated Appropriations Act, which contained a little notice amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Tip pooling regulations have undergone a series of reversals recently as the DOL has worked to find a one-size-fits-all regulation to apply to varying restaurant concepts.

Cal/OSHA Approves Long-Awaited Housekeeper Injury Prevention Regulations

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has created new rules intended to protect hotel housekeepers. These new rules are contained in the newly-created Section 3345 in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations and are intended to decrease the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders to housekeepers in hotels and other lodging establishments.

Preventing Harassment Claims in the Restaurant Industry

With so many stories in the news of very high-level, high-profile men being accused of sexual harassment, many employers are rightfully concerned about whether they may be at risk of similar claims. While these stories have crossed various industries, restaurant employers may be at a higher risk than others for these types of claims. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 37 percent of all sexual harassment charges filed with the agency were filed by employees in the restaurant industry—and there is some evidence that such harassment claims are underreported.

DOL’s Tip of the Hat to Back-of-the-House Employees: New NPRM to Rescind 2011 Regs

In response to significant pressure from the hospitality industry—specifically, the restaurant industry—as well as increasing litigation and changes to reduce or eliminate the use of tip credits at the state level, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the December 5, 2017, edition of the Federal Register, in which it proposes to rescind its 2011 regulations concerning tip pooling.