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Which issues would you most highlight to someone new to your state?
Idaho is generally an employer-friendly state. However, Idaho has adopted a number of statutes that can give rise to claims against employers. Idaho has also adopted statutes that prohibit discrimination in employment (i.e., the Idaho Human Rights Act). In addition, while not covered by state law, a number of municipalities in Idaho have enacted ordinances to address discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Further, Idaho's Claims for Wages Act—which addresses some of the ministerial requirements for the payment of wages—includes a treble damage provision to address circumstances where employees have not been paid wages to which they are entitled. Finally, Idaho has adopted statutes that address the enforceability of non-compete agreements and drug testing in the workplace.
What do you consider unique to those doing business in your state?
There is very little that is unique to doing business in Idaho. With respect to discrimination in the workplace, compliance with federal laws regarding discrimination generally constitutes compliance with Idaho state law. Further, compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act generally will satisfy Idaho’s statutory requirements regarding the payment of minimum wages and overtime.
Is there any general advice you would give in the labor/employment area?
Employers should take steps to ensure that they comply with Idaho’s statutes regarding discrimination in the workplace and the Claims for Wages Act. Otherwise, compliance with applicable federal law is critical and adherence to sound employment practices will serve Idaho employers well in reducing the risk of employment-related claims.
Proposals for reform
Are there any noteworthy proposals for reform in your state?
For a number of years there have been efforts to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classifications under the Idaho statutes that prohibit discrimination in employment. It is likely that these efforts will continue.
What are the emerging trends in employment law in your state, including the interplay with other areas of law, such as firearms legislation, legalization of marijuana and privacy?
As noted above, a number of municipalities have enacted ordinances prohibiting discrimination in employment based on orientation and gender identity. Similar ordinances may be implemented in other cities, particularly to the extent that the legislature does not take action to include gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classifications under the state's anti-discrimination statutes. There has also been movement towards expanding the circumstances under which persons may carry concealed weapons. Idaho's public colleges and universities are now prohibited from enacting regulations that limit an individual's right to carry a concealed weapon. This legislature may be extended to protection in the workplace. Finally, the legalization of marijuana is very unlikely in Idaho.
What state-specific laws govern the employment relationship?
- The Idaho Human Rights Act (Idaho Code §§ 67-5901, et seq.)
- The Idaho Claims for Wages Act (Idaho Code §§ 45-601, et seq.)
- The Employer Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace Act (Idaho Code §§ 72-1701, et seq.)
- Idaho statutes regarding agreements and covenants protecting legitimate business interests (Idaho Code §§ 44-2701, et seq.)
- Idaho's minimum wage law (Idaho Code §§ 44-1501, et seq.)
Who do these cover, including categories of workers?
These statutes generally cover all categories of employees and may also relate to independent contractors, volunteers, and interns.
Are there state-specific rules regarding employee/contractor misclassification?
Yes. Idaho generally will follow federal law with respect to employee/independent contractor classifications.
Must an employment contract be in writing?
Generally no, although under the Statute of Frauds (Idaho Code § 9-505), employment contracts with terms of employment exceeding one year may need to be in writing.
Are any terms implied into employment contracts?
Idaho courts have held that a covenant of good faith and fair dealing is implied in every employment contract, including at-will contracts. While not entirely clear, Idaho courts generally have held that the covenant requires employers to take no action that impairs any benefit of the employment relationship. However, the covenant does not require employers to have good cause for terminating employment. In addition, Idaho courts will imply into every employment relationship the duty of loyalty, which may prevent employees from engaging in conduct adverse to the legitimate interests of their employers.
Are mandatory arbitration agreements enforceable?
Idaho has adopted the Uniform Arbitration Act (Idaho Code §§ 7-901, et seq.). However, the Uniform Arbitration Act does not apply to arbitration agreements between employers and employees or between their respective representatives (unless otherwise provided in the agreement). That said, mandatory arbitration agreements between an employer and employee are enforceable subject to normal contract rules.
How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?
Normal contract rules apply with respect to whether employers can make changes to existing employment agreements. Continuation of employment may constitute an adequate consideration for such changes, particularly to the extent that the employment relationship is at will.
What are the requirements relating to advertising open positions?
Idaho has no specific requirements related to the advertising of open positions. However, employers would be well advised to ensure that their recruitment policies comply with Idaho's anti-discrimination statutes and care is taken to ensure that applicants are not improperly induced to change employment (i.e., employers should refrain from making false or deceptive representations related to employment).
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries?
(a) Criminal records and arrests
Idaho law is silent with respect to background checks related to criminal records and arrests. However, Idaho's anti-discrimination statutes generally rely on federal law and therefore could be relevant with respect to the use of criminal records and arrests in employment. Further, Idaho employers should comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act with respect to conducting background checks of such a nature.
(b) Medical history
Idaho law is silent with regard to the use of medical history in the hiring process. However, the use of medical history in the hiring process may constitute disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Idaho Human Rights Act.
(c) Drug screening
Idaho has adopted the Employer Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace Act (Idaho Code §§ 72-1701, et seq.). This act addresses the issue of drug testing in the workplace. Compliance with the act is voluntary; however, employers that do comply will be better able to respond to unemployment insurance claims made by employees whose employment has been terminated for testing positive. The act specifically allows for pre-employment drug testing. Idaho law is otherwise silent with respect to the use of drug screening in the hiring process.
(d) Credit checks
Idaho law is silent with respect to the use of credit checks in employment.
(e) Immigration status
Idaho law is silent with respect to immigration status in employment.
(f) Social media
Idaho law is silent with respect to the use of social media in employment.
Wage and hour
What are the main sources of wage and hour laws in your state?
Idaho's Claims for Wages Act (Idaho Code §§ 45-601, et seq.) addresses the ministerial aspects of the payment of wages. In addition, Idaho's minimum wage law (Idaho Code §§ 44-1502) provides for the payment of minimum wages. The minimum wage under Idaho state law is $5.15 per hour for covered employees. However, most Idaho employers must comply with federal minimum wage requirements.
What is the minimum hourly wage?
Idaho's minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. However, most Idaho employers must comply with federal minimum wage requirements.
What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?
Upon separation of employment, an employer must pay or make available at the usual place of payment all wages due to the employee by the earlier of the next regularly scheduled payday or within 10 days of such separation, weekends and holidays excluded. However, if the employee makes a written request for earlier payment of wages, all wages due to the employee must be paid within 48 hours of receipt of such request, weekends and holidays excluded.
There are very limited, and statutorily defined, allowable deductions from wage payments. Specifically, an employer may not withhold or divert any portion of an employee's wages unless it is required or empowered to do so by state or federal law, or has written authorization from the employee for deductions for a lawful purpose. Idaho statutes do not specifically address the issue of making deductions to recover wage overpayments. Idaho's Department of Labor has not historically viewed these deductions as unlawful, but it is unclear as to how Idaho courts might address such an issue.
Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?
Idaho law does not require the provision of meal and rest breaks.
What are the maximum hour rules?
For most adult workers, there are no limits on daily work hours as long as minimum wage and overtime laws are observed. There are daily and weekly limitations on the hours minors can work (Idaho Code § 44-1301, et seq.).
How should overtime be calculated?
Idaho law does not address the payment of overtime. However, Idaho employers must generally comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
What exemptions are there from overtime?
Generally, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act governs exemptions from overtime.
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?
Idaho's Claims for Wages Act requires that employment records be maintained for a minimum of three years from the last day of the employee's service.
Discrimination, harassment and family leave
What is the state law in relation to:
Under Idaho law, it is unlawful for employers that employ five or more employees to discriminate against an individual because of his or her age.
Under Idaho law, it is unlawful for employers that employ five or more employees to discriminate against an individual because of his or her race.
Under Idaho law, it is unlawful for employers that employ five or more employees to discriminate against an individual because of his or her actual or perceived disability.
Under Idaho law, it is unlawful for employers that employ five or more employees to discriminate against an individual because of his or her gender.
(e) Sexual orientation?
Idaho state law does not prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation. However, a number of municipalities have enacted ordinances that prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation.
Under Idaho law, it is unlawful for employers that employ five or more employees to discriminate against an individual because of his or her religion. An exception is provided for religious corporations, associations, or societies with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the religious activities of the corporation, association, or society.
Because Idaho's anti-discrimination statutes are patterned after federal law, Idaho employers can conduct medical examinations and make medical inquiries only to the extent allowed by federal law.
Protected classes under Idaho's statutes prohibiting discrimination in employment include race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability.
What is the state law in relation to harassment?
Harassment based on any state-protected classification is unlawful.
Family and medical leave
What is the state law in relation to family and medical leave?
Idaho has not adopted statutes that address family and medical leave.
Privacy in the workplace
Privacy and monitoring
What are employees’ rights with regard to privacy and monitoring?
Idaho statutory law is silent with respect to employee rights regarding privacy and monitoring of employees in the workplace. Idaho courts have recognized the tort of invasion of privacy which may apply to the workplace.
Are there state rules protecting social media passwords in the employment context and/or on employer monitoring of employee social media accounts?
Idaho law is silent with respect to the protection of social media passwords in the employment context and on employer monitoring of employees’ social media accounts.
Bring your own device
What is the latest position in relation to bring your own device?
Idaho law is silent on the issue of bring your own device.
To what extent can employers regulate off-duty conduct?
Idaho law is silent with respect to the extent to which employers can regulate off-duty conduct.
Are there state rules protecting gun rights in the employment context?
Under Idaho law, employers are not liable for civil damages resulting from the employer allowing or prohibiting employees from storing firearms in their personal vehicles on the employer's property (Idaho Code §5-341). Except for Idaho's public colleges and universities, no state statutes or regulations specifically govern guns in the workplace.
Trade secrets and restrictive covenants
Who owns IP rights created by employees during the course of their employment?
Idaho generally follows federal law regarding IP rights created by employees.
What types of restrictive covenants are recognized and enforceable?
Idaho has adopted statutes to address the enforceability of non-compete agreements for key employees and independent contractors (Idaho Code § 44-2702, et seq.). These statues generally provide that such agreements are enforceable if the agreement or covenant is reasonable as to its duration, geographical area, type of employment, or line of business and does not impose a greater restraint than is reasonably necessary to protect the employer's legitimate business interests. The statutes go on to provide rebuttable presumptions with respect to each factor related to the enforceability of such agreements or covenants. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether restrictive covenants entered into before the enactment of the statutes are enforceable, and whether such agreements or covenants can be enforced on non-key employees. Further, the statutes are silent with respect to non-solicitation covenants that would prohibit an employee from soliciting the clients or customers of his or her former employer.
Idaho common law is also difficult to apply. Idaho courts have upheld and enforced restrictive covenants, provided that they are reasonable and necessary to protect the employer's legitimate business interest. For example, non-solicitation covenants have been upheld to the extent that they prohibit employees from soliciting clients or customers with whom the employee had contact. Idaho is a "blue pencil" state (i.e., Idaho courts may modify a restrictive covenant to render it enforceable). That said, Idaho's appellate courts have been reluctant to do so.
Are there any special rules on non-competes for particular classes of employee?
As noted above, Idaho statutes addressing the enforceability of restrictive covenants appear to be limited to key employees. It is unclear whether such covenants are enforceable with respect to other classes of employees, although Idaho's common law appears to indicate that they may be.
Right to work
Is the state a “right to work” state?
Idaho is a "right to work" state.
Unions and layoffs
Is the state (or a particular area) known to be heavily unionized?
Because Idaho is a right to work state, it is not heavily unionized.
What rules apply to layoffs? Are there particular rules for plant closures/mass layoffs?
While no Idaho-specific rules apply to layoffs, the state's anti-discrimination statutes may come into play. Further, Idaho has enacted no particular rules on plant closures or mass layoffs. Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, Idaho's Department of Labor is the state agency that must be notified of a mass layoff or plant closure.
Discipline and termination
Are there state-specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance procedures?
No state-specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance exist.
At-will or notice
At-will status and/or notice period?
Unless the employment relationship is otherwise governed by an implied or express employment contract, employees in Idaho are at will and their employment can be terminated at any time, with or without notice and with or without cause, as long as the termination is not otherwise unlawful.
What restrictions apply to the above?
The at-will employment relationship may be modified by contract. Further, the covenant of good faith and fair dealing is implied in every employment contract, including contracts that are at will. As applied, the covenant could serve as a limitation of the at-will relationship. The only other general exception to an employee's at-will doctrine is that an employer may be liable for wrongful discharge when the motivation for discharge contravenes public policy. The public policy exception has been held to protect employees who:
- refuse to commit unlawful acts;
- perform important public obligation; or
- exercise certain legal rights or privileges.
Are there state-specific rules on when final paychecks are due after termination?
Pursuant to Idaho's Claims for Wages Act, on separation from employment, the employer must pay or make available at the usual place of payment all wages due to the employee by the earlier of the next regularly scheduled payday or within 10 days of such separation, weekends and holidays excluded. However, if the employee makes a written request for earlier payment of wages, all wages due to the employee must be paid within 48 hours of receipt of such request, weekends and holidays excluded.