Maryland’s New Harassment Definition and Extended Tolling Period Pose Increased Challenges for Employers

Two recent developments out of Annapolis pose new challenges for Maryland employers confronted with claims of harassment. Effective October 1, 2022, Maryland’s employee-friendly Senate Bill (S.B.) 450 and S.B. 451 lowered the applicable legal standard required to establish a harassment claim and extended the period within which a person may bring a civil action alleging an unlawful employment practice.

New York Enacts Law Prohibiting Discipline for Legally Protected Absences

On November 21, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law Senate Bill S1958A, which amends section 215 of the New York Labor Law (NYLL) to enhance protections for employees who take legally protected absences. The law takes effect on February 19, 2023.

Maryland and Missouri Pass Recreational Marijuana, Missouri Adds Medical Marijuana Cardholder Employment Protections

On November 8, 2022, voters in Maryland and Missouri overwhelmingly approved ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana, becoming the 20th and 21st states to do so. And, as part of the ballot initiative in Missouri, the existing medical marijuana law was amended to include express employment protections for medical marijuana cardholders.

DashCam Developer Insulated From BIPA Liability

On November 3, 2022, an Illinois circuit court judge dismissed a Biometric Information Privacy Act (Privacy Act or BIPA) putative class action against Samsara, Inc., a DashCam developer. DashCam is a safety technology for trucking companies such as Samsara’s customer and co-defendant, Beelman Truck Co. The DashCam device points an internet-connected dashboard camera at the driver to detect risky driving behaviors.

Federal Court Finds In-Home Caregivers Were Employees, Not Independent Contractors, Under ‘Economic Realities/Control’ Test

Issues related to whether individuals are independent contractors or employees receive significant attention by employers and governmental entities because of the critical impact of misclassification. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently published proposed rule restricting when individuals can be considered independent contractors is an example of this scrutiny.

MIOSHA Issues Agency Instruction, Clarifying Procedures for Conducting Interviews During Enforcement Investigations

On October 17, 2022, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) issued an agency instruction, the subject of which is “Interviews in Health and Safety Investigations.” The stated purpose of that agency instruction is to provide “clarification on proper procedures when conducting interviews for enforcement investigations under Section 29(1) of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act.”

Colorado Voters to Consider Legalization of Psychedelic Mushrooms

On November 8, 2022, voters in Colorado will vote on whether to legalize psychedelic mushrooms and other naturally occurring psychedelic drugs through a ballot initiative. Proposition 122, or the “Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022,” would decriminalize psychedelics and require the state to establish a regulated system for accessing psychedelics by those 21 years of age or older.

State Voting Leave Requirements: A Refresher in Preparation for the 2022 Midterm Elections

Millions of workers across the United States will be headed to the polls on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, for the midterm elections. With control of Congress up for grabs for the final two years of President Joe Biden’s first term, several close Senate races, five states considering ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana, and 36 states holding elections for governor, this midterm election is one of the most highly-anticipated in decades. Early voting numbers in some states already suggest there could be record turnout.

New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Dealt a Fatal Blow

On October 25, 2022, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Richmond County, upheld a challenge to New York City’s vaccine mandate for public-sector employees, ordered the immediate reinstatement of and back pay to former New York City Department of Sanitation employees who had challenged the mandate, and declared the vaccine mandate for private-sector employees to be arbitrary and capricious.

First Jury Verdict Issued in Illinois Biometric Privacy Act Class Action

On October 12, 2022, a federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois concluded that a company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (Privacy Act or BIPA) 45,600 times over six years by collecting truck drivers’ fingerprints to verify identities without the informed, written consent the Privacy Act requires.

Eleventh Circuit Finds That Postal Worker’s Failure to Amend EEOC Charge Spells End to Discrimination Suit

On October 3, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held in Ellison v. Postmaster General, United States Postal Service that a plaintiff bringing a claim for retaliation failed to exhaust his administrative remedies under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to amend his U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge when the alleged retaliatory conduct occurred.

Cal/OSHA Proposes Final Language for COVID-19 Regulation to Be Voted on November 17, 2022, at Standards Board Meeting

Following on the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) issuance on October 14, 2022, of a State Public Health Officer (SPHO) order that clarified the definition of “close contact” and “infectious period” to provide entities with strategies for working together, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board issued a fifteen-day notice with requests for written comments on proposed updated COVID-19 regulations to Title 8 of the General Industry Safety Orders.

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.

Colorado Gears Up for Sweeping New Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

Colorado employers may want to begin preparing for the implementation of Colorado’s new state-run Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program. While Colorado voters approved Proposition 118 nearly two years ago, which set the path for implementation of the FAMLI program, employers and employees will not feel its effects until January 1, 2023. However, due to the impact FAMLI will have on the employment leave landscape, employers may want to begin educating themselves and their employees now on its requirements, as compliance will require cooperation across multiple departments.

California Takes Initial Steps to Adopt Revised Heat Illness and Wildfire Smoke Standards

On September 29, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) No. 2243, an amendment to section 6721 of the California Labor Code that will ultimately lead to changes to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) heat illness and wildfire smoke standards (sections 3395 and 5141.1 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations).

Legalized Cannabis in Missouri: What Employers Need to Know

On November 8, 2022, Missouri voters will have the chance to legalize recreational marijuana. The proposed state constitutional amendment, dubbed Amendment 3, would revise and amend the existing provisions regarding the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, as well as allow individuals aged twenty-one years old and older to legally possess, purchase, consume, and cultivate marijuana recreationally.

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 Affirms Attorneys’ Fees for Meal and Rest Break Claims

On September 12, 2022, the California Court of Appeal held that employees bringing successful rest break and meal period claims are entitled to recover attorneys’ fees under California Labor Code section 218.5. The decision reversed a prior denial of attorneys’ fees by the appellate court following the Supreme Court of California’s May 2022 decision in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc.