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The Bubbler – February 2018

Now that January has come to an end, and we’ve navigated compliance with our own resolutions and employment obligations (as discussed on our latest post on The Bubbler), we’re going to take a look at a few topics of legislation that are brewing on the state and local level. While federal law does not govern these areas, the activity within state and local governments should catch all of our attention, particularly as employers with operations in multiple states deal with the overlapping (and, at times, seemingly in conflict) provisions of these various laws. These will, quite undoubtedly, continue to expand.

  • PAID SICK TIME. While there are no federal laws that require employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees, Maryland just enacted a paid sick and safe leave law to hundreds of thousands of Maryland workers, thereby joining Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C. in providing this benefit. A number of cities, such as Jersey City, New York City, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Philadelphia, have also carved out paid sick leave protections. Employers should be cognizant of their state and local obligations to provide paid and protected sick time leave to its employees.
  • PAY INQUIRY. Inquiries about an applicant’s or employee’s pay history information are banned or limited (or will be banned or limited) in California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Orleans, New York City, Oregon, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Puerto Rico. A number of other states and cities are discussing the implication of salary history information in perpetuating gender disparity in the workplace, and employers should expect to see this trend continue on the national scale.
  • SEXUAL HARASSMENT. Sexual harassment allegations have been at the forefront of recent media cycles, and employers are coming under increased scrutiny to create and foster work environments free from all forms of discrimination and harassment, particularly in the form of non-harassment policies and training. Though there is no federal law around these obligations, many states have training requirements around sexual harassment in the workplace. These trainings are mandatory for all employers in California, Connecticut, Maine and Michigan; required of all state agencies in Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington; and strongly encouraged (including favorable consideration in the event of a lawsuit) in Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. The number of states that have no legislation around sexual harassment training is dwindling and, as a best practice, all employers should implement this training in the coming year.

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Natalie C. Groot is a Mintz attorney who litigates employment disputes on a wide variety of employment and labor matters. Natalie's litigation practice includes non-competition and non-solicitation agreements; discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation claims; and wage and hour compliance matters.