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.

Unwanted World Cup Kiss—Incident Involving Spain Soccer President Highlights Workplace Harassment Risks

Luis Rubiales resigned as the president of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) amid controversy over his kissing a women’s national team player without her consent following the team’s 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup win. The situation has sent shockwaves across the sports world and may serve as a reminder for employers in the United States of the persistent dangers of ignoring sexual harassment in the workplace.

Compelled Interviews Admissible in Criminal Prosecution Against Former Company President and Its General Counsel

A New Jersey federal court has ruled that a company’s self-disclosure of potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations did not render the company a state actor, allowing evidence obtained by its internal investigation to be used against two former employees alleged to have engaged in misconduct.

Past Practice in the Past? NLRB Narrows Past Practice Defense for Employer Unilateral Action During Bargaining

On August 30, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released two decisions that will make it more difficult for employers to implement past practices during a break in bargaining or at an impasse, opening the door for unions to hold employers hostage by dragging out collective bargaining.

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.

It’s 2023: Do You Know Where Your Workers Are? Key Considerations for Managing a Remote Workforce

While many employers tout the flexibility of work-from-home as a benefit for employees, managing a remote workforce can raise a number of multistate compliance challenges. In particular, remote and hybrid work has significant implications for employers’ state and local tax withholding and unemployment insurance contribution obligations.

NLRB Adopts New Union-Friendly Recognition Standard

On August 25, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) adopted a new standard for union representation that requires an employer to recognize and bargain with a union that has demonstrated majority status unless the employer challenges the union’s support through an employer-initiated NLRB election, and does so without committing an unfair labor practice. The ruling, combined with the resuscitation of the Board’s 2014 “ambush election” rules, will make it more difficult for employers to respond to demands for recognition from unions claiming to have majority support from the employees at issue.

NLRB Reverts to Quick Union Elections Rules

On August 24, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced a new final rule for union elections that revives the prior “ambush election” rules. The new rule compresses the time period between the time a representation petition is filed and the actual election. The impact of the rule is to make it more difficult for employers to educate employees about unions and unionization prior to a vote.

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.

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.

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.

IRS Finalizes Rules to Collect Taxes on Erroneously Claimed Employee Retention Credits and Other COVID-19 Tax Credits

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have finalized rules for the recapture of erroneously claimed Employee Retention Credits (ERC) and other tax credits provided to employers for COVID-19 paid sick and family leave, treating them as an underpayment of taxes that may be assessed and collected. The new final rules were published on July 26, 2023, and remove and replace the temporary and proposed regulations released in 2020 and 2021.

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.

The Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling: A Shift in How Private Employers Approach DEI?

The Supreme Court of the United States’ recent decision to strike down affirmative action admissions policies in higher education is having significant indirect consequences for private employers and their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. While the decisions will directly affect admissions policies at higher education institutions across the country, private employer DEI policies and initiatives, voluntary affirmative action programs, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts are facing greater scrutiny and legal challenges and employers may need to adapt to this quickly evolving legal landscape.

New Jersey Temporary Worker Pay Transparency Law Takes Effect

On August 5, 2023, New Jersey’s Temporary Workers Bill of Rights (TWBR) law takes full effect, bringing new obligations for temporary service firms and employers that utilize temporary workers. The State of New Jersey has indicated that it intends to enforce the new law in accordance with the proposed regulations unveiled on July 21, 2023.

NLRB Adopts Standard Critical of Employer Workplace Rules, Handbooks

On August 2, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) adopted a new burden-shifting standard for evaluating whether work rules infringe upon employees’ rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—that may require employers to narrowly tailor rules to avoid violating the act.

Biden Administration Renews Focus on Disability Discrimination as ADA Turns 33

In a presidential proclamation on the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), President Biden stated that the landmark civil rights law “has had a profound impact,” but the United States has “much more to do,” signaling a continued emphasis by the administration on disability discrimination.

Fifth Circuit Holds Christian-Owned Business Has Religious Exemption From LGBTQ+ Discrimination Claims

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently ruled that prohibitions against discriminatory employment practices against the LGTBQ+ community under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are inapplicable to religious, private, for-profit companies that possess sincere, religious objections to gender nonconforming conduct.

Illinois Supreme Court Declines to Reconsider Privacy Act Per-Scan Damages

On July 18, 2023, the Supreme Court of Illinois declined to reconsider its February 2023 holding that claims under the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (Privacy Act or BIPA) accrue on each and every scan or transmission. The denial drew a dissent from three justices, who argued  that a per-scan interpretation “subvert[s] the intent of the Illinois General Assembly, threatens the survival of businesses in Illinois and consequently raises significant constitutional due process concerns.”

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.

Illinois Federal Judge Says Privacy Act Damages Are Discretionary, Vacates $228M Award

A federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois vacated a $228 million damages award issued following the first-ever jury verdict in an Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (Privacy Act or BIPA) class action and ordered a new trial on the issue of damages. However, in doing so, the judge refused to overturn the jury’s finding that the company’s Privacy Act violations were intentional or reckless.