In recent months, the Louisiana Legislature has passed several bills that have been signed into law, which will affect Louisiana employers. These new laws are effective August 1. In addition, the governor signed an executive order, effective July 1, 2016, extending new protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees who work for contractors that perform work for the State of Louisiana.
New Protections for Gay and Transgender Employees
In April 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which protects lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender individuals, among other protected classes, from discrimination. The order applies to businesses that provide contractual services to the State of Louisiana and its agencies.
The order provides that state agencies, departments, offices, commissions, boards, entities or officers of the state shall not discriminate against individuals based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age. The order extends antidiscrimination protection to services, benefits, and employment provided by the state.
In addition, the order provides that the same protected classes must be afforded antidiscrimination protection in the process of awarding contracts for the purchase of services by state agencies, departments, offices, commissions, boards, entities, or officers of the state. The order requires that all contracts awarded for the purchase of services by the state include a provision stating that contracting parties will not discriminate in any matter related to employment as it pertains to any of the previously noted protected classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity. The order does not apply to any contractor or subcontractor that is a religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution, or religious society. The portion of the order applying to contractors took effect on July 1, 2016.
Unlawful Use of Cellular Tracking Devices
It may now be unlawful to use a cellular tracking device to track Louisiana employees. A cellular tracking device, available from resellers of consumer electronics, uses cellular towers to locate a person or a vehicle.
Louisiana Revised Statutes (La. R.S.) 14:222.3 now provides that it is “unlawful to use a cellular tracking device for the purpose of collecting, intercepting, accessing, transferring, or forwarding the data” from communications devices, or data that is “stored on the communications device[s] of another without the consent of a party to the communication and by intentionally deceptive means.” The statute, however, provides sixteen exemptions. Of particular interest to employers is an exemption for any “person acting in good faith on behalf of a business entity for a legitimate business purpose.” La. R.S. 14:222.3(C)(13). Another exemption of interest to employers applies to owners of motor vehicles, including the owner of a vehicle available for rent, when the owner consents to the use of the tracking device with respect to the vehicle. La. R.S. 14:222.3(C)(4). Similarly, the statute provides an exemption for “the lessor or lessee of a motor vehicle and the person operating the motor vehicle who have consented to the use of a tracking device with respect to that vehicle.” La. R.S. 14:222.3(C)(5).
The direct application of the statute to employers is likely to be limited in scope because an employer’s tracking of cellular devices should ostensibly meet the good faith exception as long as employers can demonstrate a legitimate business purpose for its actions. Nonetheless, employers should be aware of the statute prior to using any cellular tracking device, as La. R.S. 14:222.3(D) provides that a violation of the statute can lead to fines of up to $3,000.00, imprisonment of up to two years, or both.
New Statutory Preference for the Employment of Veterans
The Louisiana Legislature authorized private employers to establish a preference in employment for certain veterans and relatives of veterans, similar to the system by which state and city governments are authorized to give similar preferences in employment.
The preference in employment for veterans and certain relatives of veterans now provided in La. R.S. 23:1001 is permissive and not mandatory. A private employer may give preference in hiring to the following individuals:
- an honorably discharged veteran;
- the spouse of a veteran with a service-connected disability;
- the unremarried widow or widower of a veteran who died of a service-connected medical condition; or
- the unremarried widow or widower of a member of the United States Armed Forces who died in the line of duty under combat-related conditions.
The statute also provides that establishing preferences authorized by the statute will not violate any state or local equal employment opportunity law.
Employment of Sex Offenders and Poster Related to Human Trafficking for Hospitality Employers
The Louisiana Legislature has determined that sex offenders, sexually violent predators, and child predators pose a high risk of engaging in sex offenses and crimes against minors even after being released from incarceration.
Two recent amendments to the laws regarding sex offenders, sexually violent predators, and child predators impact certain employers in Louisiana.
New Poster for Hospitality Employers
Louisiana hotels are now required to display a new poster for employees.
Louisiana law currently requires certain business establishments to post information regarding the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline. The types of establishments that must post this information include every:
- massage parlor, spa, or hotel that has been found to be a public nuisance for prostitution;
- strip club or other sexually-oriented business;
- full-service fuel facility adjacent to an interstate highway or highway rest stop;
- outpatient abortion facility.
This listing of business establishments associated with sex offenders was amended to include hotels, which also must post notices related to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. The amendment defines “hotel” as “any establishment, both public and private, engaged in the business of furnishing or providing rooms and overnight camping facilities intended or designed for dwelling, lodging, or sleeping purposes to transient guests.” For purposes of this statute, “hotel” excludes bed and breakfasts with no more than 10 guestrooms and camp and/or retreat facilities owned and operated by nonprofit organizations exempt from federal income tax under sections 501(a) and 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, so long as the net revenue from the camp and/or retreat is devoted wholly to the nonprofit organization’s purposes.
Hotels, as defined in La. R.S. 15:541.1, must post the required information in the same location as employee notices required by federal and state law are posted. The posting shall be no smaller than eight and one-half inches by eleven inches (8½” x 11”) and shall contain the following wording in bold-typed print of not less than 14-point font:
“If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, whether it is commercial sex, housework, farm work, or any other activity, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to access help and services.”
Sex Offenders Barred From Soliciting Business Door-to-Door
It is now unlawful for a registered sex offender to work as a door-to-door salesperson. La. R.S. 15:553 pertains to the employment of certain sex offenders—specifically, those individuals required to maintain sex-offender registrations under Louisiana law on or after August 15, 2010. Under La. R.S. 15:553, it is unlawful for such individuals to do the following:
- operate any bus, taxicab, or limousine for hire;
- engage in employment as a service worker who goes into a residence to provide any type of service; or
- operate any carnival or amusement ride.
The 2016 revision to La. R.S. 15:553 adds a new subsection (D) making it unlawful for any person who is required to maintain a sex offender registration to “engage in employment as a door-to-door solicitor, peddler, or itinerant vendor selling any type of goods or services including magazines or periodicals or subscriptions to magazines or periodicals.”
If an individual is required to maintain registration as a sex offender under Louisiana law and is found to engage in any of the above type of work, that person (as opposed to the employing entity) shall be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for at least five years, though no more than ten years, at hard labor.