More and more organizations are beginning to use or expand their use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and services in the workplace. Despite AI’s proven potential for enhancing efficiency and decision-making, it has raised a host of issues in the workplace which, in turn, have prompted an array of federal and state regulatory efforts that are likely to increase in the near future.
On May 29, 2019, the Illinois Senate passed Illinois House Bill (HB) 1438, which will legalize recreational marijuana in the state. This bill, known as the “Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act,” is expected to be signed into law by Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker, since he campaigned for office on a promise to legalize recreational marijuana.
On Thursday, June 6, 2019, Maine governor Janet Mills signed into law new data privacy protections for Maine residents. The law, entitled “An Act To Protect the Privacy of Online Customer Information,” places new restrictions on Internet service providers (ISPs), effective July 1, 2020.
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.
On June 11, 2019, Governor Kay Ivey signed Alabama House Bill 225, making Alabama the 49th state to adopt equal pay legislation. The act prohibits an employer from paying an employee a lower wage rate than an employee of another race or sex for equal work in the same establishment, where job performance requires “equal skill, effort, education, experience, and responsibility” and occurs “under similar working conditions.”
The Iowa Supreme Court released five eagerly awaited opinions upholding the 2017 amendments to the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA). The main case on which the four other companion cases relied was American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Iowa Counsel 61 v. State of Iowa, No. 17-1841 (May 17, 2019).
Despite broad-based support, the Texas Legislature failed to pass a law preempting the type of paid sick leave ordinances enacted in Austin, San Antonio, and most recently Dallas before the end of its regular session on May 27, 2019. While a Texas court of appeal enjoined implementation of Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance and later ruled it unconstitutional, no litigation has been filed concerning the San Antonio and Dallas ordinances. Accordingly, companies with employees in San Antonio and Dallas may want to review their current policies to ensure compliance with these ordinances, both of which will take effect for most employers on August 1, 2019.
Federal law already prohibits employers from paying an employee less than employees of another sex for equal work, unless the employer bases the wage difference on statutorily defined factors. Alabama and Mississippi were the only two states without corresponding state-specific laws until Representative Adline Clarke, D-Mobile, introduced Alabama House Bill 225 on March 19, 2019.
On May 29, 2019, the California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 25. The bill now moves to the state senate for a vote.
The California State Senate and Assembly have been busy this year, moving a number of employment law bills through the legislative process. May 31, 2019, was the deadline for either the assembly or the senate to pass a bill and send it to the other house. A few employment-related bills failed to advance, but there are still a dozen major bills marching forward.
The Maine legislature has passed a bill imposing the nation’s strictest limitations on broadband providers’ use of consumer data. On May 30, 2019, the Maine State Senate approved the House’s amended version of Legislative Document (LD) 946, entitled “An Act To Protect the Privacy of Online Customer Information,” which now awaits Governor Janet Mills’s signature.
On May 29, 2019, Assembly Bill No. 5 (AB 5) passed a California State Assembly floor vote and headed to the senate. The bill would codify the “ABC” test announced this past year by the Supreme Court of California.
On May 28, 2019, the Arizona Supreme Court issued a ruling in a criminal case, State v. Jones, clarifying the definition of marijuana under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). The court held that the act’s definition of marijuana not only includes its dried-leaf/flower form, but also extracted cannabis resin.
On May 21, 2019, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed Act 2019-204. This legislation, introduced initially in the Alabama Senate, links an employee’s maximum weekly unemployment benefits and their duration to the state’s unemployment rate.
On May 22, 2019, Colorado governor Jared Polis signed sweeping equal pay legislation into law after nearly 40 years of failed attempts by the Colorado government to pass a pay equity law. The recently signed Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act is one of many transformative legislative changes the state government has put in place since the November 2018 election, which resulted in Democrats holding trifecta control in the Colorado state government for the first time in years.
On May 28, 2019, Governor Ned Lamont signed House Bill No. 5004 The bill, entitled “An Act Increasing the Minimum Fair Wage,” increases Connecticut’s minimum wage to $15.00 an hour over the next approximately four years.
On April 3, 2019, New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law two bills related to criminal background checks that may affect employers operating in the state. The first is a ban-the-box law that prohibits private employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on an employment application. The second allows certain individuals to petition the court for expungement of criminal records.
On May 14, 2019, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill (HB) 2992, which imposes a new burden on employers that want to have enforceable noncompetition agreements with their Oregon employees. For any noncompetition agreement entered into on or after January 1, 2020, employers must provide employees with a signed, written copy of the terms of the noncompetition agreement within 30 days after the termination of employment.
In two recent companion cases, Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc. and Moreno v. Future Care Health Services, Inc., the New York Court of Appeals upheld the New York State Department of Labor’s (NYSDOL) 13-hour rule for the payment of home health aides working 24-hour shifts. Under this rule, an employer may pay home health aides for only 13 hours of a 24-hour shift if the aides receive at least 3 hours of meal break time and at least 8 hours of sleep (at least 5 of which must be uninterrupted).
On May 8, 2019, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed new restrictions on noncompetition covenants for Washington employees. The new restrictions are effective January 1, 2020.
On May 9, 2019, Washington State governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1696, “an act relating to wage and salary information.” The new law is similar to legislation being promulgated throughout the country, including by Washington’s neighbor to the south, Oregon. This law will become effective on July 28, 2019.
As the 2019 regular session of the Minnesota Legislature draws to a close, lawmakers in St. Paul are deadlocked on the budget bill. As a result, many of the bills we reported on in our previous articles are stalled in committee or unlikely to see final action this year. The legislature must end its regular session on Monday, May 20, 2019, and it’s unclear whether there will be a special session.
The Florida Legislature concluded its annual legislative session on Saturday, May 4, 2019. Over 20 employment-related bills were introduced, covering subjects such as E-Verify, criminal background screening, discrimination and harassment, sexual misconduct reporting in health care, local regulation of employment conditions, minimum wage, vaping, paid leave, internship tax credits, restraints of trade or commerce (noncompete agreements), drug-free workplaces, and unemployment compensation claims. Although only two of these bills survived, many of the bills that did not pass could resurface and impact employers in the near future.
Here is the latest information on the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) requirements since our last report on April 17, 2019. As the date for issuing final regulations and starting employer contributions draws near, the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) continues to publish updates.
Maine is one step closer to requiring that private employers with 10 or more employees provide “earned paid leave” that employees can take for any reason.
On May 8, 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued a unanimous opinion holding that salespeople who are paid solely on draws and commissions are entitled to separate and additional overtime and Sunday pay under Massachusetts law. The decision has far-reaching implications for most retailers, which have long relied on opinion letters from the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) suggesting that commissioned employees are not entitled to such additional compensation.
A divided Oklahoma Supreme Court recently invalidated the $350,000 noneconomic damages cap on pain and suffering in personal injury lawsuits.