State and local legislatures impose many new obligations on employers in 2013, some of which already have become effective. Staying abreast of these developments is vital for any employer, but especially for a multistate employer. Specific legislation of note is summarized below, and in most instances, further information is available by clicking on the accompanying links.
- A number of jurisdictions increased their minimum wage. State Minimum Wage Increases Effective January 1, 2014
- California enacted numerous laws and regulations, among other things expanding employees' protection from discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace and providing for additional protected absences. New California Employment Laws Effective in New Year
- An amendment to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) added military or veteran status as a class protected from employment discrimination under state law.
- Volunteer firefighters, reserve peace officers, and emergency rescue personnel in California will be entitled to temporary leaves of absence of up to 14 days per calendar year for the purpose of engaging in fire, law enforcement or emergency rescue training, under an amendment to the state's Labor Code.
- Protection from discrimination and retaliation has been extended to employees who are victims of stalking under another amendment to the Labor Code. The prior version of the law covered only victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
- A revision to the definition of sexual harassment under the FEHA makes clear that employees who assert claims of sexual harassment need not show the harassment is motivated by sexual desire.
- San Francisco's recent Flexible Work Arrangement ordinance provides that employees working in the City may request flexible work arrangements to care for a child, family member with a serious health condition, or parent over age 65 without retaliation. Employers must consider their employees’ requests and must provide business reasons for denying them
- Colorado and Nevada now restrict an employer’s right to obtain and use credit information to make employment decisions to situations where the information sought is substantially related to the current or prospective position. Ten states now impose such limitations and similar bills are pending in other state legislatures. Colorado Becomes Latest State to Restrict Use of Credit Checks for Employment Purposes; New Nevada Law Restricts Employers’ Access to Credit Reports of Employees, Applicants
- Delaware became the 17th state to prohibit gender identity discrimination. Delaware Enacts Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Law
- Florida joined the approximately 40 states that ban texting while driving. Florida Bans Texting While Driving
- Illinois became the 20th state in the nation (in addition to the District of Columbia) to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. It also joined numerous jurisdictions allowing qualified persons to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm, subject to a property owner's rights to post signage limiting such right. Medical Marijuana Legalized in Illinois; Illinois Firearms Concealed Carry Act Update
- Maryland and New York City imposed an obligation on employers to provide pregnancy-related accommodations. The New York City law requires notices of rights to be distributed to all employees. Maryland Employers to Provide Pregnant Workers with Accommodation under New Law; Employers Must Provide Pregnancy-Related Accommodations under New York City Law
- Minnesota and Rhode Island, joining other states and localities, enacted “Ban the Box” laws limiting private-sector employers' ability to obtain criminal background information from an applicant at the outset of the application process. In Maryland, such inquiries generally are not permitted until after selecting the applicant for an interview or, if there is no interview, after making a conditional offer of employment. In Rhode Island, such inquiry generally is allowed only during or after the first interview with the applicant. Massachusetts, Hawaii, Newark, NJ, Buffalo, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Seattle, WA impose similar limitations on private-sector employers.
- New Jersey enacted a domestic violence leave law and now requires employers to issue a prescribed gender equity notice. Jersey City enacted a paid sick days law. New Notice Requirements for New Jersey and Jersey City Employers; New Jersey Employers Must Post New ‘NJ SAFE Act’ Domestic Violence Leave Notification
- New York issued final regulations expanding allowable wage deductions if certain prerequisites are satisfied. New York City enacted paid sick leave legislation and anti-discrimination protections for the unemployed. New York City also imposed an obligation on employers to provide pregnancy-related accommodations. The New York City law requires notices of rights to be distributed to all employees. Regulations for New York’s Expanded Allowable Wage Deductions Issued; New York City Employers Must Prepare for Paid Sick Leave, Going into Effect April 1, 2014; New York City Enacts Legislation Prohibiting Discrimination against the Unemployed; Employers Must Provide Pregnancy-Related Accommodations under New York City Law
- Oregon amended its Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) to include bereavement among the permitted purposes for leave, expanded employee protections from domestic violence, joined other states in limiting an employer's right to request applicants to disclose social media passwords and modified wage payment laws to permit payment by direct deposit, unless the employee makes an oral or written request to be paid by check. Portland also implemented legislation providing for paid sick leave. New Year Means New Employment Laws in Oregon
- Rhode Island amended its temporary disability insurance program to provide for monetary benefits and a leave of absence for employees who need to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent or to bond with a newborn child, newly adopted child or new foster-care child.
Businesses, including those with operations in multiple states, must ensure compliance with all applicable state and local laws.