On May 8, 2020, Governor Kay Ivey issued an amended Safer at Home order, lifting previous restrictions and providing additional guidance to Alabama businesses. The same day, Governor Ivey issued a separate executive order providing liability protection or immunity to businesses and health care providers.
On April 28. 2020, the City of Birmingham became the first municipality in Alabama to require face coverings in public places within the city. In response to questions from employers regarding the ordinance’s impact on employees, the city issued guidance on May 1, 2020, and updated that guidance on May 5, 2020.
Alabamians are currently under a stay-at-home order that Governor Kay Ivey issued on April 4, 2020,which shut down all non-essential business. On April 28, 2020, Governor Ivey announced at a press conference that she approved a “Safer at Home” order, which goes into effect on Thursday, April 30, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. The order will relax many of the restrictions found in the earlier order and should allow some Alabama employers to put their employees back to work.
On April 21, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey held a press conference that addressed business concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and included an update from the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL). As the governor eyes reopening Alabama’s economy, the disruptions of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continue to cause an unprecedented number of unemployment claims to be filed in the state.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in critical changes to workforces across the United States. In the state of Alabama, there have been more than 306,000 unemployment claims filed since March 16, 2020. The Alabama Department of Labor has taken steps to respond to the situation, including modifying certain unemployment compensation eligibility requirements to better address the fluid needs of employers and employees during the crisis.
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.
On March 24, 2020, upon the request and recommendation of Mayor Randall Woodfin, the Birmingham, Alabama City Council unanimously adopted a “shelter in place” order, “An Ordinance to Establish a ‘Shelter in Place’ Order for the City of Birmingham During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.”
The Alabama Department of Labor announced this week that workers who are not able to work due to COVID-19 will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits starting on March 23, 2020.
The 2020 state legislative sessions are underway across the country and a hot topic in many states is medical marijuana. As discussed last year, Alabama was poised to become the first Deep South state to enact a medical marijuana law. The Alabama legislature ultimately tabled the issue until the 2020 legislative session.
In Allen v. Ambu-Stat, LLC, No. 18-10640 (January 16, 2020), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a Georgia district court’s dismissal of a former employee’s sexual harassment claim and delivered a strong rebuke to a plaintiff seeking to temporarily enjoin the district court’s use of summary judgment in Title VII claims. The decision may provide guidance for employers as to what behavior constitutes pervasive harassment in the workplace.
On December 13, 2019, a split Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (sitting en banc) ruled that several black plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the discriminatory intent behind an Alabama law that blocked the city of Birmingham from increasing its local minimum wage.
On November 22, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the court with jurisdiction over Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, handed down a decision that invalidates certain provisions in arbitration agreements in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) wage and hour cases.
At what point does a company’s application of its anti-fraternization policy become sex discrimination? Last week, a federal court in Alabama found that the answer to this question may be determined by a jury.
Alabama became the 49th state to adopt equal pay legislation when Governor Kay Ivey signed the Clarke-Figures Equal Pay Act (CFEPA) on June 11, 2019. The CFEPA, effective September 1, 2019, prohibits an employer from paying an employee less than another employee of a different race or sex for equal work.
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.”
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 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 March 20, 2019, House Bill 243 (HB243) was introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives. HB243, a bipartisan bill with extensive support from both the majority and minority leaders, would create the Compassion, Access, Research, and Expansion Act (CARE Act) to legalize medical marijuana in Alabama for individuals with certain medical conditions. In its current form, HB243 lists 33 medical conditions and categories of conditions for which an individual would be eligible for a medical marijuana card in Alabama, including addiction, anxiety, autism, cancer, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, depression, glaucoma, epilepsy/seizures, irritable bowel syndrome, posttraumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, and terminal conditions.
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.”
In 2019, a number of states’ minimum wage rates will increase.
In its second pro-plaintiff decision in as many months, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that blind website accessibility plaintiffs need not show that difficulty using a place of public accommodation’s website also caused a lack of equal access to the physical place of the public accommodation.
On July 25, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a Birmingham federal judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the February 2016 Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage and Right to Work Act (commonly known as “the Minimum Wage Act”). The Minimum Wage Act provided the Alabama state legislature with the authority to control the regulation of wages within the state of Alabama, including the establishment of a state minimum wage.
With Governor Kay Ivey’s signature on the Alabama Data Breach Notification Act on March 28, 2018, Alabama followed the lead of 49 other states in requiring protection of sensitive consumer information and notice of data breaches, as well as imposing consequences for failing to comply with the Act.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently had the opportunity to remind employers not to ignore training employees on safety.
In Bowen v. Manheim Remarketing, Inc., No. 16-17237 (February 21, 2018), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the Equal Pay Act and Title VII sex discrimination claims of a former manager of a car auction facility who alleged that she had been paid less than the male manager whom she replaced.
Does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protect nursing mothers against post-pregnancy workplace discrimination?
On September 26, 2017, the Birmingham City Council passed an ordinance that makes it a crime for any entity doing business in the city to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or familial status.
As catastrophic hurricanes threaten the southeastern region, Alabama employers may want to reflect on the state’s emergency response statute.