2018 has been, without a doubt, another extraordinary year for US employers. The #MeToo movement has had a tremendous impact on the workplace — from resulting in a significant increase in harassment and retaliation claims, to prompting several new laws aimed at training and awareness, and sparking a national dialogue about what is and is not appropriate at work.
In addition, the thorny issue of how to manage contractor classifications in the gig economy continued to evolve this year. Likewise, new DOJ enforcement activity is heightening concerns about no-poaching agreements and other antitrust activity. And, employers will confront a host of new laws in 2019 on topics ranging from sick leave, lactation accommodation, salary history inquiries and much more.
For US companies operating globally, the challenges don't stop there. A plethora of new laws have swept the globe that will affect companies managing international workforces on issues like gender pay equity; alternative workforce arrangements like contracting, labor leasing and outsourcing; and cross-border investigations and whistleblower hotlines. The global transactions market remained remarkably robust in 2018 despite all the macro uncertainty. However, there are still real threats to free trade and investment flows and there remains potential for a much more serious outbreak of protectionism and isolation. It is incumbent on businesses to do all that they can to guard against that risk and be prepared for inevitable business change.
Baker McKenzie's US Labor and Employment team looks forward to helping you bridge the gap between aspiration and achievement in 2019.