Most States Mandate Employee Time Off to Vote
Employers should review their policies for compliance with state law requirements for providing employees with time off to vote. Some states have no rules, but others require all employers to provide employees with time off to vote and impose civil and criminal penalties for noncompliance.More
States Considering Bills Barring Bias Against Unemployed Applicants
Oregon has enacted a new law that prohibits overt unemployment discrimination in job advertisements, becoming only the second state—after New Jersey—to prohibit this practice. At least 14 other states have considered some sort of protection for unemployed job applicants during their 2012 legislative sessions.
Federal Gridlock Puts Focus on New State Legislation
Because of the gridlock in Congress, much of the activity in the employment area is now happening in state legislatures, an employment expert says, including the introduction of bills that would limit the use of credit history and criminal background checks, expand discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity, mandate paid sick leave and increase the minimum wage.
Caretaking Leave for Gay Partners Is Protected by Some State Laws
Gay employees who take time off to care for sick partners aren’t protected by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Proposed federal legislation would change that, and some state laws and local ordinances already require time off in these circumstances.
Costly Claims May Arise from ‘Subtle’ Workplace Risks
While harassment and discrimination prevention is a given on every HR professional’s “to do” list, HR also should be proactive in averting other potentially costly claims, such as defamation, negligent hiring, fraud and invasion of privacy. These claims arise under state, not federal, law.
Tax-Cut Bill Makes Changes to States’ Unemployment Insurance Programs
The bill that extended emergency jobless benefits and temporarily cut payroll taxes (H.R. 3630) included several little noticed provisions intended to update the country’s employment insurance system by making changes within the state programs.
Employment Top Issue in States’ 2011 Immigration Legislation
At least 17 states passed employment-related immigration laws in 2011. Many of these laws provide employer sanctions for hiring illegal immigrants, set employment eligibility verification requirements and define penalties. Some of these laws also address unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation.
States Reduced UI Benefits, Restricted Eligibility in 2011
During their 2011 legislative sessions, 10 states enacted legislation reducing workers' unemployment insurance (UI) benefits or tightening eligibility requirements—or both, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) said in a report.
Drafting Enforceable Noncompete and Nonsolicitation Agreements Employers often turn to the courts to post-employment restrictive covenants, with varying outcomes. Whether a specific provision will be enforced depends on a number of variables, including the nature of the employment relationship, the relevant industry and the state in which the parties entered into the contract.
‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests May Lead to Workplace Issues
Some states such as California, Colorado, New York and North Dakota protect employees from being fired for lawful, off-duty activity, but most don’t. If an employer is doing business in a state without such a law and feels that an employee’s conduct outside of the workplace conflicts with the company’s culture and values, the employer imay be within its legal rights to fire them.
Equal Benefits Gain Ground
Employers that provide equal benefits to employees with same-sex partners and spouses confront many challenges. Benefits managers must keep track of conflicting—and changing—state laws on same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships.
But I Have a Prescription! – Employee Drug Tests in the Age of Medical Marijuana
Employers are increasingly facing the difficult question of how to handle employees who have valid state prescriptions for the use of medical marijuana. Currently 14 states permit the use of medical marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Legal Protections for Employees’ Workplace Privacy Rights Arise from Many Sources
To better understand the rights of an employee or applicant, HR should be aware of the many different legal sources from which privacy protections may arise, including the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, federal communication laws, state privacy laws, state common law regarding privacy and limitations contained in collective bargaining agreements.
States Enact WARN Laws
The New Hampshire Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, has gone into effect. At least 16 other states have passed some type of “mini-WARN” law, requiring advance notice to employees.
Carefully Consider Independent Contractor Classifications
Misclassifying employees—even unintentionally—can prove to be extremely expensive for employers, opening them up to administrative fines and penalties as well as costly private lawsuits.
Employers Must Have Policies in Place on Child Pornography
Every employer should assess its Internet usage and employee misconduct reporting policies in light of recent legal decisions and statutes imposing obligations on employers to report child pornography found on office computers.
Experts: Employers Might Be Liable for Car Wrecks by Texting Drivers
Legal experts warn that if employees text while driving and become involved in an accident, their employers could be liable for significant legal damages. Drivers allegedly distracted by cellphone conversations have led to huge legal judgments, and texting involves even greater danger.
Be Aware of Mini-COBRA Laws
HR professionals need to be familiar with what their particular state continuation coverage law requires. Since the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in February 2009, at least 18 states and the District of Columbia have made changes to their “mini-COBRA” laws.
Triple Damages, Longer Time to Sue for Minimum Wage Violations
Arizona has joined the list of states that allow workers to collect triple damages against employers for violating the state's minimum wage law. Idaho, New Mexico, Ohio and Massachusetts have all adopted similar policies in recent years.
Worker Blogs Cause Headaches for HR
Employers and HR professionals face difficult choices when workers post offensive blogs or vent on social networking sites. Several state and federal laws must be considered before action is taken.
How Unemployment Compensation Works: The Basics
Claims for unemployment benefits are increasing with resulting shortfalls in many states’ unemployment trust funds, making this a particularly good time for HR to review the nuts and bolts of the unemployment compensation system.