Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently signed into law four bills that encourage employers to resume business in compliance with all COVID-19 safeguards required under the various federal, state, and local statutes, rules, regulations, executive orders, and agency orders. The new laws provide a significant reward for an employer’s compliance: insulation from COVID-19–related liability—including tort claims and claims under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1974 (MIOSHA)—as long as the employer was implementing all safeguards legally required at the time of the incident giving rise to the claim.
On September 28, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2992, which amends California Labor Code Sections 230 and 230.1 and prohibits an employer from “discharging, or discriminating or retaliating against, an employee who is a victim of crime or abuse[,] for taking time off from work to obtain or attempt to obtain relief.”
On April 3, 2020, New York State enacted a statewide paid sick leave (PSL) law impacting all private employers in New York. The law requires employers to provide up to 40 or 56 hours of annual sick leave (depending on their size and net income).
On October 14, 2020, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal granted a petition for a writ of certiorari quashing a trial court’s discovery order that had compelled an employer to produce “financial worth” discovery in an employment discrimination case. While the trial court retained broad discretion over the scope of discovery, the appellate court held that the employee lacked an evidentiary basis to substantiate the need for financial worth discovery.
On September 30, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 3075, which amends the California Labor Code to allow employees to collect wage and hour judgments not only from their employers, but also from certain successor businesses that take over operations when the employers have failed to pay the judgment debts.
On September 30, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1512, which amends California Labor Code Section 226.7 by authorizing employers to require certain unionized private security officers “to remain on the premises during rest periods and to remain on call, and carry and monitor a communication device, during rest periods.”
The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has issued emergency health and safety rules aimed at controlling, preventing, and mitigating the spread of COVID-19. The emergency rules, which Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved, represent a further effort to fill the void left by a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision invalidating many of the governor’s COVID-19 executive orders.
The year 2020 has certainly come with its share of new challenges. Now, with the presidential election less than a month away, heightened tensions around the country, new remote work environments, videoconferences offering a window into employees’ personal lives, face masks with political slogans, and so much more, New York employers might want to start thinking through what employee political conduct they can and can’t regulate this election season.
On September 30, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 979, a measure that will require publicly held corporations in California to achieve diversity on their boards of directors by January 2023.
In the wake of the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the state’s COVID-19-related executive orders, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued new orders, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has ramped up enforcement of COVID-19-related protocols, and local counties are issuing their own orders as well.
California’s statute governing the classification of independent contractors, enacted under Assembly Bill (AB) 5, underwent a significant renovation on September 4, 2020, when Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2257. The emergency measure, which takes effect immediately, contains several new exemptions and revises existing law related to exemptions for business-to-business relationships, referral agencies, professional services, and performance artists, among others.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law New York City Council Int. No. 2032-A on September 28, 2020, after the city council passed the bill a few days earlier. The legislation, which took effect on September 30, 2020, amends the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA) and generally aligns the ESSTA with the New York State Sick Leave Law (New York Labor Law § 196-b) (NYSSLL), the accrual provisions of which also took effect on September 30, 2020.
On September 25, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania became the first federal court in the Third Circuit to rule that Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) allows an employee to bring a private lawsuit against his or her employer for taking an adverse employment action “solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s (DLI) amendments to the regulations that exempt executive, administrative, and professional (so-called “white collar”) salaried workers from overtime requirements under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968 (PMWA) went into effect on October 3, 2020. The amended regulations were originally approved on January 31, 2020.
On September 30, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill 973 into law as Government Code Title 2, Division 3, Part 2.8, Chapter 10, § 12999. The bill authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (Santa Barbara) is titled “Employers: annual report: pay data,” and it states that while “progress [has been] made in California in recent years to strengthen California’s equal pay laws,” there is still a significant gender pay gap and for women of color that pay gap is greater. To address these pay issues, the California Government Code’s new section 12999 requires pay data reports from covered employers and delegates additional powers to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing relating to the new pay data reporting requirement. Section 12999 requires covered employers to file pay data reports no later than March 31, 2021, and on or before every March 31 thereafter.
In May 2019, Washington enacted restrictions on noncompetition covenants, which we wrote about in our article, “Washington State Governor Signs Legislation Restricting Noncompetition Covenants,” and which took effect on January 1, 2020.
Conducting business in the U.S. Virgin Islands poses unique challenges not often encountered in the states, but also unique opportunities. This 20-part series offers tips for doing business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, covering a broad array of topics affecting employers. Part 12 of this series addresses the workplace laws protecting victims of domestic violence.
On September 1, 2020, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors passed the Sacramento County Worker Protection, Health, and Safety Act of 2020. The county appears to have modeled its new law on the City of Sacramento’s own recent Worker Protection, Health, and Safety Act (WPHSA), which the city enacted on June 30, 2020. The two laws are nearly identical, providing employees with paid sick leave for certain COVID-19–related reasons, allowing workers to refuse to work in certain situations, and prohibiting employer retaliation. Here are answers to some several frequently asked questions about the measures.
On September 25, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Florida’s entry into Phase 3 of its coronavirus pandemic reopening plan and issued Executive Order 20-244.
Connecticut employers need to start their preparations for the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA), a law that requires all private employers with Connecticut employees to provide paid leave to eligible employees. The Connecticut Paid Leave (CTPL) program, established by the PFMLA, is set to begin in just a few short months. Until then, there are important dates and key steps that employers may want to review to ensure their workplaces are prepared.
On September 17, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 1383, which repealed the current California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and eliminated the California New Parent Leave Act, replacing those statutes with a new CFRA, which can be found at California Government Code Section 12945.2, et seq.
On September 17, 2020, six months after Mayor Jim Kenney issued Executive Order 3-20, a Declaration of Emergency Related to the Known and Potential Presence of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 in Philadelphia, he signed into law Bill No. 200303, a temporary amendment expanding the City of Philadelphia’s paid sick leave law—officially known as the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Ordinance—to establish public health emergency leave for individuals not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
We previously reported on COVID-19–related employment lawsuits that we tracked from late March 2020 through early May 2020. Since then, the number of lawsuits has steadily risen as employers have resumed operations after shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders were lifted and students returned to school in virtual or hybrid environments. To track this litigation and to identify trends, we developed an Interactive COVID-19 Litigation Tracker that details where COVID-19–related litigation is taking place by state, the industries affected, and the types of claims asserted against employers and educational institutions.
On September 8, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) final joint-employer rule, which limited when multiple businesses involved in an employment relationship could be liable for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
At the end of 2019, we urged employers to keep an eye on a new recreational marijuana legalization voter initiative in Arizona: the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. Although many employers have been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, they may want to be aware that the Arizona Secretary of State has officially certified the Smart and Safe Arizona Act as one of two voter propositions on the November 2020 ballot. In addition to approving the initiative, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has also published arguments for and against the measure.
Election Day—Tuesday, November 3, 2020—is quickly approaching, and employees might ask for time off to vote. Employers that simply say “no” to their employees might be violating Texas law.
In the summer of 2019, Oregon enacted the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act (SB 726), which imposed sweeping new requirements on Oregon employers in response to the #MeToo movement. Although some of the law’s provisions took effect in September 2019, the remaining provisions take effect on October 1, 2020. Oregon employers that have not done so already may want to take steps to ensure they are in compliance with all of the new requirements by that date.
On September 17, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) voted unanimously to pursue the drafting and adoption of a California COVID-19 safety regulation. The emergency regulation would cover all workers in California regardless of industry segment.
On September 17, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 685 into law, enacting California Labor Code Section 6409.6 and amending other state statutes. As explained further below, Section 6409.6 obligates employers to notify employees, the employees’ exclusive representative (such as a union), and subcontractors, within one business day of an employer’s receiving notice of a potential COVID-19 workplace exposure from a “qualifying individual.”
On September 14, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill (H.B.) 606 into law, providing employers with legal protections when it comes to their efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 and making Ohio one of a growing number of states granting similar civil immunity. According to Governor DeWine, the new law accomplishes the dual goals of keeping people safe and rebuilding the state’s economy.