Over the next few weeks, Seattle, WA will be considering an ordinance to provide employees of large employers predictability and flexibility in the scheduling of their work hours. The ordinance, called the Secure Scheduling Proposal, will require giving workers advance notice of their work schedules, pay them for on-call hours, provide them the opportunity to work additional hours, and give them the right to refuse unscheduled hours. The City Council is expected to vote on the proposal in September.
Just as classes are getting started, the Obama Administration passed an order that forces public schools to allow students the choice of restrooms that match their gender identity. Schools can offer students single-use restrooms, but cannot require transgender students to use these single-use restrooms if other students are not required to do the same. Furthermore, schools cannot require a medical diagnosis, or any type of documentation that states the individual’s “internal gender identity” to use the restroom that matches the student’s gender identity.
This summer, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Final Rule that requires, among other things, certain employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from discrimination or retaliation. Employers under federal OSHA jurisdiction can meet this notice requirement by posting the current federal OSHA posting.
Although North Carolina is not under federal OSHA jurisdiction, North Carolina law provides for the automatic adoption of federal OSHA standards, including the anti-retaliation notice requirement. North Carolina employers will meet the notice requirement by posting the state’s updated OSH Notice to Employees, which has been updated to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from discrimination or retaliation.
On July 8, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed S.B. 2407, An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination, protecting individuals whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth. The emergency law was passed to extend protection of transgender people in places of public accommodations. Under the law, a lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement that lawfully segregates or separates access based on a person’s sex must grant all individuals admission to, and the full enjoyment of, such place of public accommodation or portion thereof consistent with the person’s gender identity. Transgender people have the right to access restroom and locker rooms that match their gender identity. Furthermore, the act authorizes the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination to adopt policies and make recommendations on when and how gender identity may be “evidenced.” The act also authorizes the Attorney General’s Office to issue regulations on referring any individual whose assertion of a gender identity is for an improper purpose to an appropriate law enforcement agency.
Last year, President Obama signed Executive Order 13706 (EO) to establish paid sick leave for federal contractors. The Executive Order requires certain federal contractors to provide their employees with up to 7 days (56 hours) of paid sick leave per year, including paid leave allowing for family care. By September 30, 2016, the proposed regulations that will implement the EO are expected to be finalized. The regulations will apply to contracts issued on or after January 1, 2017, but federal contractors may wish to review existing policies and procedures and begin preparing for upcoming administrative responsibilities.
During the 2016 Delaware legislative session, two new bills relating to employment discrimination were enacted. Both laws, which amend the Delaware Code, are scheduled to go into effect December 30, 2016. Under H.B. 316, an employer cannot discriminate with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against an employee because of a reproductive health decision. As defined in the text of the law, reproductive health decision is “any decision related to the use or intended use of a particular drug, device, or medical service, including the use or intended use of contraception or fertility control or the planned or intended initiation or termination of a pregnancy.”
Recently, Illinois became the second state – after Oregon – to officially mandate that employers provide their employees time off to grieve the loss of a family member. The Illinois Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA) took effect immediate effect upon Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature on July 29, 2016. The law permits employees who have suffered the loss of a child with up to two weeks (10 work days) of unpaid leave to:
- to attend the funeral or an alternative to a funeral
- to make arrangements necessitated by the death of a child
- to grieve the death of a child
The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) has been in place since 2014 and it also allows employees to take up to two weeks of job-protected leave when a family member passes away to make funeral arrangements, attend the funeral, or to grieve the family member’s death.
On March 7, 2016, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio passed Executive Order 16 providing transgender and gender non-conforming individuals access to single-sex facilities owned or operated by the City. The purpose of the Order is to ensure individuals are protected against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. As defined in the Order, gender identity is “one’s internal deeply-held sense of one’s gender, which may be the same or difference from one’s sex assigned at birth.” Gender expression is defined as “the representation of gender as expressed through, for example, one’s name, choice of pronoun, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, or body characteristics. Gender expressions may not be distinctively male or females and may not conform to gender based stereotypes society assigns to specific gender identities.” Individuals will not be required to show identification, medical documentation, or any other form of proof or verification of gender when using the facilities.
Illinois jobseekers who file new claims for unemployment insurance benefits need to get a jump start on the job hunt. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) recently announced that it is enhancing its enforcement of the requirement that unemployment insurance claimants register for employment services. Beginning July 17, 2016, new claimants will be required to complete the registration process and upload at least one resume to the state’s employment services website www.IllinoisJobLink.com before they can receive unemployment benefits. Registration is separate from the unemployment benefits application.
Pennsylvania is the latest state to join the U.S. Department of Labor Misclassification Initiative. As stated in the Memorandum of Understanding, the goal is to provide “clear, accurate, and easy-to-access outreach to employers, employees, and other stakeholders, and of sharing resources and enhancing enforcement by conducting coordinated investigations and sharing information consistent with applicable law.” The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry will work with the U.S. Department of Labor to ensure their agencies use resources effectively and efficiently to combat worker misclassification. In the last few years, many employees have been misclassified as independent contractors by employers trying to lower payroll costs. Misclassification of employees as independent contractors can deprive employees from workplace protections and employment benefits to which they are legally entitled to. The agreement is scheduled to expire on August 4, 2019. If mutual parties agree, the agreement may be modified and/or renewed.