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Federal Labor Laws vs State Labor Laws and Why the Difference Matters Protecting the legal rights of employees is complicated. One of the biggest complexities involves the overlap of federal labor laws and state labor laws. Generally, when a state’s labor laws are more protective of workers’ rights, then the state law will control for workers in that state. Take, for example, the difference between state and federal law with respect to whether employees should…
There is a trend in pro-employee legal protections emerging in states across the nation. Among these emerging protections are laws under the Right of Recall movement. In brief, when new employment opportunities become available, right of recall legislation requires employers to notify previously laid-off employees of the new openings and to rehire, or recall, those employees in order of seniority. These statutes and ordinances are particularly important for industries like food service, hospitality, and for…
In a “win” for workers, the federal Department of Labor has proposed new regulations regarding tipped employees, including reinstatement of the 80/20 rule for side work. The new regulations are more “pro-worker” and would make it more difficult for employers to use the tip credit. See here for the newly proposed regulations. Tip credits can be somewhat difficult to understand. But, in simple terms, employers must pay their workers at least the federal minimum wage…
Generally, federal and state labor laws mandate that any tip or gratuity received by an employee is money that belongs exclusively to the employee who earned the tip. There are some well-understood exceptions for such activities as tip pooling arrangements. But, under no circumstances, can an employer share in employee tips or convert such tips to their own use. Illegal tip sharing or tip pooling is a form of wage theft. Employers that engage…
New York Passes Wage Theft Protections for Construction Workers New York recently enacted a new wage theft law aimed at enhancing protections for construction workers. See the news report here. Nationally, wage theft results in the loss by workers of billions of dollars in wages and benefits. Wage theft occurs in every industry but is more prevalent in the restaurant and hospitality industries where there is often a high turnover of workers. This is…
Virginia Enacts Pro-Worker Overtime Law for Salaried Employees In 2020 Virginia amended its Wage Theft Law, which we wrote about here. This year, to further bolster employee’s rights to be paid a fair wage, Virginia recently enacted a new law called the Virginia Overtime Wage Act (“VOWA”). In most respects, Virginia’s new law is similar to other overtime laws across the country and similar to federal law with respect to overtime. For example, under the…
Colorado Says Vacation Pay Must Be Paid Upon Employee Separation Colorado recently joined a growing list of states and localities that mandate employees must be paid the equivalent of their wages for earned-but-unused vacation days when an employee separates from employment. The decision was made by the Colorado Supreme Court in the case of Nieto v. Clark’s Market, Case No. 19S553 (Colo. Supreme Court June 14, 2021). Most states do not mandate that employers…
New Sexual Harassment Laws  The Texas Legislature has recently passed two laws modifying and enhancing protections for workers with respect to sexual harassment in the workplace. The new laws are effective as of September 1, 2021. Tex. Lab. Code, §§ 21.201(g) and 201.202(a-1). Of particular importance are these provisions: Small employers — even those with only one employee — will now be required to comply with Texas anti-sexual harassment laws including being required to provide…
Beyond the right to be paid and paid fairly, workers have many other rights that are provided and protected by statutes, regulations, and court precedent. For example, under safety statutes and regulations, workers have a right to work in an environment that is reasonably safe and hazard-free. Likewise, workers have a right to work in an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination. Biometrics and Workplace Privacy Rights Workers also have privacy…
Pay Equity Laws are a Growing Trend Among States Generally, in the United States, your employer must pay the same compensation — including wages/salary, benefits and bonuses — for the same work regardless of gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability or other protected characteristics. These general protections for equal pay are provided by federal law. In order to strengthen protection for workers, most states have enacted “equal pay”