Mollo v. Passaic Valley Sewerage Comm’rs, 2011 WL 167266 (3d Cir., January 20, 2011) – The plaintiff, a landscaper at the defendant’s New Jersey facility, was terminated after he failed a random drug test administered to all employees in safety-sensitive positions. The plaintiff sued his employer claiming that the random testing policy violated the New Jersey Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. The Third Circuit held summary judgment for the employer was appropriate, noting that the New Jersey Supreme Court permits suspicionless drug testing of public employees when there is: 1) a diminished expectation of privacy; 2) adequate limitations on the testing’s intrusiveness; and 3) a compelling government interest in the employee’s safe conduct. The court emphasized that a lack of regulation to which an employer may be subject does not in itself determine the employee’s expectation of privacy. The safety concerns associated with a particular type of employment must be considered, as they also diminish the expectation of privacy, especially where the employee is well aware of the risks. Although the plaintiff was a landscaper, he was required to use vehicles and motorized equipment with dexterity and good judgment, and failure to do so could have resulted in significant property damage, injury or death.
The New Jersey Legislature declined to increase the state minimum wage from $7.15 per hour before ending its session for the extended summer recess, despite a strong December 21, 2007 recommendation by the State of New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Commission that the state minimum wage be immediately increased to $8.25 per hour (the poverty threshold wage for a three-person family in 2007).
OSHA’s Enforcement of the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry, 2018–2019: By the Numbers
For employers concerned about how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been enforcing its Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry, the agency’s enforcement data for the standard’s first 18 months provides some insight. From July 2018 to December 31, 2019, OSHA and state plan states issued 720 violations based on 29 C.F.R. Section 1926.1053, for a collective penalty total of over $1.5 million.
On May 18, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-23 as part of his three-phase plan to reopen the economy in Texas. The three-phase plan is outlined in a report entitled “Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.” Executive Order GA-23 is Phase II of the plan and follows Executive Order GA-18 (issued April 27, 2020) and Executive Order GA-21 (issued May 5, 2020). Executive Order GA-23 “continu[es] through June 3, 2020, subject to extension based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC.”