KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2017
President Trump’s election spells big changes
President Trump campaigned on overturning the Affordable Care Act, cancelling President Obama’s Executive Orders, and rolling back federal regulations. Details on such policies remain pending. Of note, two of President Obama’s policies hang in the balance. First, a Department of Labor final rule increasing the threshold salary for the white collar exception to the Fair Labor Standard Act’s minimum wage and overtime pay protections was supposed to go into effect last November but is currently stayed by a federal court. Second, President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order requiring prospective federal contractors to report labor law violations and pay transparency data was supposed to be operational last October but is currently stayed by a federal court. It is not yet known how President Trump will proceed with either litigation or the regulations generally. President Trump will have the opportunity to appoint members to the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2017.
Pay equity laws implemented in many states
Various states have enacted laws prohibiting employers from paying employees wage rates that are less than what they pay employees of the opposite sex for “substantially similar” work. Many states have increased reporting requirements and record retention requirements. In 2017, states and cities will also be considering wage inquiry bills that would prohibit an employer from asking a prospective employee about her prior earnings.
States are raising minimum wages
The California and New York legislatures have enacted legislation to raise the minimum wage. On election day, voters approved ballot measures that will raise state minimum wages beginning on January 1, 2017 in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2016
The Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program of the SEC offered huge awards to whistleblowers this year
The Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program awarded multi-million dollar awards to individuals who voluntarily provided original information about possible violations of federal securities laws.
Restroom access for transgender workers
Under President Obama, various federal agencies required, or recommended, that bathroom access be provided to match an employee’s stated gender identity. Six states have laws requiring that employees have the right to use facilities consistent with their gender identities. In contrast, eleven states sued the federal government over similar guidelines for public school facilities.
The Defend Trade Secrets Act is in effect
The Defend Trade Secrets Act provides trade secrets with the type of protection afforded to other types of intellectual property. Wrongful acquisition or wrongful use or disclosure of trade secrets violates the law.
The Act contains whistleblower protections. Employers must provide notice of the immunity in any new or updated agreements that govern trade secrets or confidential information.