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Workplace Initiatives and Strategies for Employers

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In an opinion letter released on April 29, 2019 the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) provided guidance on the standards for establishing an employment relationship in today’s modern gig economy. In doing so, the WHD took a narrow view, and found that digital platforms that connect individual service providers to customers are better characterized as “referral services,” than employers. The letter addressed a question posed by an unnamed internet/smartphone gig economy platform,…
On Wednesday, April 24, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court struck another blow to employees who seek to arbitrate class claims against their employer under employment arbitration agreements.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that class arbitration should not be allowed unless the arbitration agreement clearly authorizes class claims.  This case stems from a 2016 phishing attack against Lamps Plus, Inc., which resulted in the theft of employee tax and income statements. Frank Varela, a…
Most New York employers know about the state’s election leave law, but may have never thought much about it since hanging the required poster in the break or copy room. However, new changes passed by the state legislature will require employers to give this law their attention soon, and that poster will need an update. Under the prior version of N.Y. Election Law 3-110, employees registered to vote had a right to “up to two…
A federal judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit last week where a former employee alleged that she was fired because she was a lesbian, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The judge dismissed the case by upholding Third Circuit precedent (to which Pennsylvania federal courts are bound) from 2001 holding that Title VII does not protect employees because of their sexual orientation. The case is Doe v.…
On April 9, 2019, the New York City Council approved a bill which will prohibit employers from testing prospective employees for marijuana in a pre-employment drug test. While there are exceptions in the bill for safety sensitive positions and other specific types of employment, this bill demonstrates a change in pre-employment drug testing in New York City and employers should take note. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Mayor DeBlasio imminently. …
On March 28, 2019, the General Assembly overrode the gubernatorial veto to enact the Minimum Wage Act, which raises Maryland’s minimum hourly wage to $15.00 by 2025. Maryland now becomes the sixth state to enact a $15.00 hourly minimum wage. It is estimated that around 570,000 Maryland workers (about 22 percent of the state’s workforce) will receive a raise under the new law. The annual raises in minimum wage are: January 1, 2020: $11.00/hour January…
New Jersey Employers May Not Discriminate For Employees’ Use of Medical Marijuana On March 27, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division reversed the lower court’s dismissal of a complaint that alleged discrimination based on an employee’s use of medical marijuana. In doing so, the Appellate Division held that employers may be required to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana. Accordingly, employers should take note of this decision in New Jersey regarding an employee’s medical…
New Jersey Governor Signs Bill Impacting Non-Disclosure Agreements in Harassment Settlements and Arbitration Provisions Over a year after its initial introduction, and after enough time to draw speculation (and perhaps some dust) on Governor Murphy’s desk, the Governor has signed Bill S121 into law.  The primary function of the law, which passed the Senate in June of 2018 with a near-unanimous 34-1 vote, is to prohibit and render unenforceable non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts or…
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for specified family and medical reasons. It is the employer’s obligation to designate leave as FMLA-qualifying. The employer must provide notice to the employee within five business days after the employer has information to determine that the leave is being taken for a FMLA-qualifying reason.  The FMLA also permits employers…
On March 1, 2019, the New York State Department of Labor announced its withdrawal of proposed predictive scheduling regulations, which comes as a relief to businesses state-wide. Two years ago, the Department announced its intent to adopt predictive scheduling regulations. In 2018, the Department issued revised proposed regulations regarding “call-in” scheduling. The regulations aimed at limiting “on-call” scheduling practices and provided employees premium pay if shifts were changed and/or canceled. After receiving “extensive feedback” during…