U.S. District Court in Massachusetts Weighs in on the ‘Material Change’ Doctrine and Nurse Noncompetition Exemption

A recent ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in a restrictive covenant case, Ascend Learning, LLC v. Bryan and SPIN-Learning, LLC, No. 22-cv-11978 (August 16, 2023), has implications for the “material change” doctrine under Massachusetts law, the state’s prohibition against noncompetition covenants for registered nurses, and personal jurisdiction over corporate entities.

Remote Work for School Principal Is Not Reasonable ADA Accommodation if Physical Presence Is Essential, Federal Court Rules

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia recently rejected a school principal’s argument that remote work was a reasonable accommodation for her asthma and restrictive lung disease that she claimed were exacerbated by the poor condition of the school building in which she worked.

New York Governor Signs Law Banning Mandatory ‘Captive Audience’ Meetings

On September 6, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law that prohibits employers from requiring employees to attend employer-sponsored meetings the “primary purpose” of which is to communicate the employer’s opinions on religious or political matters, including relating to joining a labor organization. The new law, which took immediate effect, comes amid a wider push against so-called “captive audience” meetings.

Reminder for Employers—New York Statewide Pay Transparency Law Takes Effect

The New York state law requiring employers to disclose expected compensation ranges in advertisements for jobs, promotions, and transfers takes effect on September 17, 2023. The law requires employers with four or more employees to disclose the minimum and maximum annual salary or hourly wage in advertisements for jobs, promotions, and transfers, including in electronic job postings.

First Circuit Issues Opinion Clarifying FLSA’s Administrative Exemption

On August 14, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a decision—Marcus v. American Contract Bridge League—clarifying and applying the standards for determining whether an employee qualifies for the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) administrative exemption, and thus whether the employee is entitled to overtime payments under the FLSA.

California Legislature Sends Bill Prohibiting Caste Discrimination to the Governor

California is one step closer to becoming the first state to enact legislation banning caste-based discrimination. Senate Bill No. 403 adds caste to the list of characteristics protected by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Education Code.

California Governor Signs Law Prohibiting Employers From Entering Noncompete Agreements

On September 1, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 699 into law, prohibiting employers from entering into or attempting to enforce noncompete agreements, which are void under state law. Meanwhile, another bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 1076, which would reinforce the state’s broad ban on noncompete agreements, nears passage in the state legislature. Together, the bills come amid a nationwide push to ban noncompete agreements and other restrictive covenants in employment and further California’s leading public policy stance against such agreements.

California’s Workplace Violence Prevention Bill Passes Assembly Appropriations Committee With New Amendments

On August 28, 2023, California State Senator Dave Cortese (D-15) announced last-minute amendments to Senate Bill (SB) No. 553. SB 553, if enacted, would require virtually every employer in California to adopt comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans, starting on July 1, 2024.

Don’t Miss the Target—Complying With Hazing Prevention, Training, and Reporting Requirements

University athletic administrators all across the country are welcoming back their athletes for the 2023–2024 athletic season. Athletes and coaches alike will meet with compliance administrators for a refresher on National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) bylaws, nutritionists to discuss proper nutrition, and even media relations staff to discuss media obligations. What sometimes can be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of college athletics—and the desire to get to the practice field as quickly as possible—is the need to ensure that coaches, administrators, and athletes alike are being trained on proper behavior and reporting mechanisms. Though sitting through multiple presentations may not be as fun as hitting the weight room, a failure to appropriately train athletes, coaches, and administrators may have catastrophic impacts on an institution and individual employees.

The Heat Is On: Nevada OSHA’s Proposed Heat Illness Prevention Regulation

The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Nevada OSHA) seeks to implement a new regulation aimed at preventing heat-related illnesses and ensuring the well-being of workers in the state. While this regulation did not pass during the 2023 legislative session, it may still be brought during a special session. Nevada OSHA may still issue citations related to heat-related illnesses under its general duty clause.

Fifth Circuit Upends ‘Ultimate Employment Decision’ Requirement for Title VII Discrimination Claims

On August 18, 2023, in Hamilton v. Dallas County, the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upended long-standing precedent, significantly broadening the types of adverse employment actions that could give rise to an actionable claim. Prior to this decision, and for nearly thirty years, Fifth Circuit precedent required a plaintiff under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to show he or she had been subjected to an “ultimate employment decision” to state a cognizable discrimination claim.

Cal/OSHA Standards Board Receives More Public Comments on Proposed Indoor Heat Illness Prevention Standard

On August 17, 2023, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board held its monthly meeting and received public comments on the proposed indoor heat illness prevention standard. Multiple stakeholders expressed concerns about the proposed regulation’s overbroad scope, lack of scientific data to support the control measures, and foreseeable undue burden on employers.

Hawaii Wildfires: The Need for Disaster Preparedness … Just in Time for Peak Hurricane Season

The Hawaiian island of Maui has been ravaged by unprecedented and quickly moving wildfires, which have taken a particular toll on hospitality employers. As the U.S. enters peak hurricane season, the Hawaiian and Canadian wildfires and the flooding caused by the recent California tropical storm serve as a reminder for employers to consider implementation or revision of their disaster plans, among other legal and practical considerations.

Verbal Disclosure of Employee’s COVID-19 Status Didn’t Breach Health Record Disclosure Law, Wisconsin Appeals Court Rules

On July 27, 2023, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals held in Mosley v. Oakwood Lutheran Senior Ministries that verbal disclosure of an employee’s COVID-19 status does not support a violation of Wisconsin healthcare record disclosure laws or a cause of action for invasion of privacy.

Illinois Federal Judge Says Prevailing BIPA Defendants Must Show Bad Faith for Attorneys’ Fees

An Illinois federal court recently rejected an online eyewear retailer’s request for attorneys’ fees as the prevailing party in a Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA or Privacy Act) class action over its virtual try-on (VTO) tools. The district judge had previously dismissed the case with prejudice under the Privacy Act’s health care exemption.

Cal/OSHA Advisory Committee Takes Up Proposed Emergency Regulation on Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure

On August 9, 2023, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) convened an advisory committee to provide input on proposed emergency changes to Title 8, section 5204, Occupational Exposures to Respirable Crystalline Silica, of the California Code of Regulations.

Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors? New Jersey Enacts Nonresident Income Tax ‘Convenience of the Employer’ Law

New Jersey enacted Assembly Bill No. 4694 on July 21, 2023, adding a “convenience of the employer” rule in an effort to gain tax revenues from nonresidents assigned to a primary work location in New Jersey who work outside the state for their own convenience. The law became effective immediately and the convenience of employer rule applies for calendar year 2023.

Seventh Circuit Revives Teacher’s Religious Discrimination Case Over Transgender Students’ Names and Pronouns

On July 31, 2023, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals revived a Christian teacher’s religious discrimination lawsuit over his refusal to refer to transgender students by their names and pronouns with which they identified. The case highlights the tension between discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and discrimination based on religion amid evolving and sometimes conflicting legal standards and guidance, including based on the Supreme Court of the United States’ heightened standard for undue hardship for religious accommodations.

New York State Bill Proposed to Restrict Electronic Monitoring, Automated Employment Decision Tools

Under a recently introduced bill, employers across New York State could face new restrictions on the electronic surveillance of workers and the growing use of automated decision-making and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to make employment decisions. Senate Bill (S) 07623 seeks to address privacy concerns with electronic surveillance, or so-called “bossware,” and concerns that automated decision-making tools result in discrimination against individuals with disabilities or against other members of protected groups.