2017 is in the books and 2018 is now upon us. A dramatic close to 2017 on Capitol Hill ushered in sweeping changes to the tax code that will begin to impact both employers and employees in a number of ways – some more immediately – from employers losing deductions for sexual harassment settlement payouts, to penalties for high nonprofit executive compensation, to tax deferral on exercise of stock options for public company executives, to employee benefit plans. Wage and leave-related issues are also likely to dominate in 2018, as more states (and employers on their own initiative) increase wage thresholds and broaden employee paid and unpaid leave entitlements (even for some smaller employers). Salary history bans, such as those already enacted in New York City, Massachusetts, and California, will continue to get traction in 2018 as more states and municipalities jump on that bandwagon. We also expect to continue to witness a significant shift in the NLRB’s enforcement policy and decision-making; the NLRB’s new General Counsel has already announced a number of changes that are sure to make employers sigh with relief. Also in 2018, employers could continue to face rising uncertainty with respect to health plans in the wake of the tax bill’s repeal of the individual mandate that was central to keeping health plans affordable under the Affordable Care Act. Finally, so that we can help keep you accountable to the five New Year’s resolutions we made for you over the holidays (that we know you were eager to adopt as your own), we have collected them for you here: (1) review and refresh your non-harassment policies and training; (2) update your leave policies; (3) make sure your job applications comply with new state ban-the-box laws and salary history inquiry bans; (4) assess the strength and enforceability of your post-employment covenants under changing state law; and (5) make sure your employee benefit plans are compliant.
This past year, a growing number of states and municipalities banished the Ghost of Christmas Past from haunting job applicants. As a result, employers in those jurisdictions must resolve now to bid auld lang syne to asking applicants about their salary and criminal histories. Employers should take a fresh look at their job applications, and hiring practices, policies and procedures and update them now to remain in compliance in the New Year.
As we enter the holiday season, we gather around the bubbler to sing about a few of our favorite (and not so favorite) things in the world of employment and labor law. Unfortunately, they’re not as sanguine as raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens…
Some retail employers will be on Santa’s naughty list after the Sixth Circuit found that sales employees paid on a 100% commission or draw basis cannot be required to repay outstanding draws after termination of employment. The Senate decked the halls of the NLRB by confirming a new General Counsel, who will serve a critical policy role and is expected to move away from enforcement of the NLRB’s broadened joint-employer standard. This could be the last Christmas employees have to visit EEOC offices in person to file discrimination charges after the EEOC launched a new online portal, putting employers on alert of the possibility of increased charge filings in 2018. It’s a wonderful Christmas time for minimum wage workers in Montgomery County, Maryland, in DC’s metro area, who joined the small but growing ranks of jurisdictions increasing its minimum wage to $15.00 per hour beginning in 2021. Retail employees in New York might get a silent night away from work thanks to new employee scheduling regulations proposed by the New York State Labor Department that will limit “just in time” or “on call” scheduling and require additional pay for employees scheduled on short notice. While California employers may have longer than 8 nights, they don’t have quite a month to prepare for new regulations that will take effect January 1, 2018, which expressly prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history prior to a conditional offer of employment.
Just six months after California modified its regulations concerning past criminal convictions for applicants, California has taken the additional step of modifying the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to expressly prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history prior to a conditional offer of employment, and strictly limiting an employer’s use of an applicant’s criminal history following a conditional offer.
California has joined a growing list of jurisdictions, including New York City, Massachusetts, Delaware and Oregon, among others, banning salary history inquiries from job applicants. Governor Brown signed the law into effect last week and it becomes effective on January 1, 2018.
California’s new Ban the Box regulation became effective last week. Effective July 1, 2017, questions by public employers concerning an applicant or employee’s criminal convictions will now be subject to the new regulation that employers can locate here. That regulation raises the bar employers must clear in order to pose criminal conviction-related questions to applicants and employees. And it raises it significantly. We discuss the new regulation below.
We have co-authored an alert with our affiliate government relations consulting group, ML Strategies entitled, “Massachusetts State Legislature Takes Action on Major Employment Reform as Legislative Session Ends”, which addresses key legislation concerning pay equity, transgender anti-discrimination, non-compete agreement reform, credit checks reform and wage theft. The alert provides a review of the new laws and their implications for employers.
If you follow my corporate divorce series, you are familiar with my affinity for the employment-as-marriage metaphor. I’ve already examined how employment relationships end or should end. But I have yet to address an employment metaphor relevant to annulments.
Unlike divorce, which is the judicial dissolution of a legal marriage, an annulment is actually a judicial (and sometimes also religious) decree that the marriage was never valid in the first place. Typically an annulment is based on a fundamental legal flaw, such as fraud or marrying close kin or some other core defect that goes to the heart of the marriage contract. An annulment declares that the “marriage” is treated as if it never existed, provided a core reason exists to nullify it.
So what, if anything, annuls an employment contract?
Written by David Cohen with Michael Arnold
Since 2012, many states have enacted laws that restrict an employer’s capacity to access employees’ personal email and social media accounts. Last month, Connecticut joined the party and became the 21st state to enact an employer-employee social media privacy law.
Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that was not dismissed, expunged, or sealed? New York City employers, if you ask that question on your employment application or some version of that question, then remove it. If you search the internet or other databases to learn about your applicants’ criminal history, then stop it. Or at least do so by the fall when the Fair Chance Act, New York City’s “ban the box” law, which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign, goes into effect. New York City now joins a growing list of jurisdictions to ban criminal conviction inquiries during the screening process. The key difference here is that unlike most jurisdictions, New York City extends its prohibitions to private employers. We briefly summarize the law below.