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.

Maine Raises Discrimination Damages Caps and Expands Employee Protections

Maine recently wrapped a busy 2023 legislative session that brought several significant legal changes relevant for employers. Those changes include increasing the cap on damages for violations of the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA), expanding the protections of Maine Equal Pay Law to include race, amending the Workers’ Compensation Act to permit individual liability for sexual harassment and sexual assault, allowing non-tipped restaurant workers to participate in tip pools, and prohibiting employers from requiring veterinarians to enter into noncompete agreements.

California Legislature Moves to Expand and Make Permanent Hospitality and Building Services Recall Rights

The California Legislature is poised to make it even more difficult for hospitality and business service providers to operate in California. Senate Bill (SB) No. 723 amends California Labor Code Section 2810.8, which provides recall rights to certain hospitality and business services employees laid off because of COVID-19 and is scheduled to sunset in December 2024. SB 723 eliminates the sunset provision and makes Section 2810.8 permanent.

Majority of States Have Legalized Marijuana, but OSHA’s Post-Incident Drug-Testing Guidance Hasn’t Changed

Although marijuana has been legalized for medicinal or recreational use, or both, in thirty-eight states, it is still illegal under federal law, and drug testing is required to comply with a number of federal laws, including the Motor Carrier Safety Act. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not prohibit workplace safety incentive programs or post-incident drug testing.

Illinois Federal Judge Finds Another Eyewear Virtual Try-on Class Action Is Exempt Under BIPA’s Healthcare Exemption

A federal judge in Illinois recently ruled that online shoppers cannot sustain claims that a virtual try-on (VTO) tool that allegedly scans facial geometry to preview the look of sunglasses on their face violates the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA or Privacy Act) because it falls into an exemption for “information captured from a patient in a health care setting.”

CDPH Order Updates Definitions of ‘Close Contact’ and ‘Infectious Period,’ Clarifies What Is and Is Not Mandatory

On October 14, 2022, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Tomás J. Aragόn issued a State Public Health Officer Order further clarifying the definitions of “close contact” and “infectious period” to provide entities and individuals with strategies for working together in a post-COVID-19 workplace.

California Federal Judge Applies Viking River to Dismiss Representative PAGA Claims

In Johnson v. Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC, a decision issued on September 21, 2022, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an order compelling arbitration of a plaintiff’s individual claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and dismissing the remaining representative PAGA claims.

California Appellate Court Rules That Purely Digital Retail Businesses Are Not Covered Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act

On August 1, 2022, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, in Martinez v. Cot’n Wash, Inc., resolved two outstanding issues in the website accessibility field in a way that limits the reach of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) as part of a growing resistance in the judiciary to an onslaught of website accessibility claims.

ADA Design Standards Expected for Sales and Ticketing Kiosks and Other Self-Service Transaction Machines

The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (commonly known as the Access Board) announced that it intends to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) in August 2022 that would create scoping and technical standards for self-service transaction devices.

Minnesota Enacts Legislation Funding Unemployment Coffers, Authorizing Pay to Frontline Workers, and Requiring Notice

On April 29, 2022, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed Senate File (S.F.) No. 2677 into law, replenishing the state unemployment coffers and authorizing payments to various frontline workers. This new law requires Minnesota employers to provide notice to eligible frontline workers regarding potential additional benefits available to them.

California Unmasks—California Department of Public Health Revises Guidance for Use of Face Masks in Indoor Settings

On February 28, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance, further loosening the rules for wearing COVID-19–related masks in the state. Effective March 1, 2022, unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to mask in indoor public settings, although the CDPH included “a strong recommendation” that all individuals, “regardless of vaccine status, continue indoor masking.”

Cook County, Illinois, Issues Proof-of-COVID-19-Vaccination Requirements for Restaurants, Gyms, and Indoor Entertainment Venues

On December 23, 2021, Cook County, Illinois, issued Public Health Order No. 2021-11, joining the City of Chicago in requiring certain indoor establishments (including restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, and entertainment venues) to verify the COVID-19 vaccination status of patrons five years of age and older, effective January 3, 2022.

Is the Tide Turning on Website Accessibility Claims? California Court of Appeal Upholds a ‘Bona Fide Intent’ Requirement

The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, recently handed a potentially significant website accessibility win to the business community under the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) when it upheld a jury verdict in Thurston v. Omni Hotels Mgmt. Corp. (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 23, 2021), finding that the blind user of a hotel’s website reservation mechanism lacked a “bona fide intent” to make a hotel reservation.

Governor Newsom Expected to Sign Bill Creating New Labor Code Violations, Expanding Cal/OSHA Subpoena Powers

The California Legislature will soon send Senate Bill (SB) No. 606 to Governor Gavin Newsom, who is likely to sign the bill into law. The bill would make substantial changes to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) citation structure by creating two new categories of violations: “enterprise-wide” and “egregious.” The bill would also provide Cal/OSHA with additional subpoena power during investigations.