Five Things Employment Lawyers Are Talking About (and Maybe You Should Too)
By: Lewis Brisbois' Labor & Employment Team
Within the Labor & Employment Advice and Counseling Group at Lewis Brisbois, we talk up a storm. We talk to each other and we talk to our clients, every day, about all the new changes being implemented by state and local lawmakers in many parts of the United States. While every employer, employee, and workplace is different and unique, you can’t help but spot some trends over time. So, what are we talking about, exactly? Here are my top five most-talked-about topics for 2022 – so far.
- Paid Sick Leave. If you thought this topic would eventually work its way out of the system, you’ll have to keep waiting. In an era where we hope to see COVID-19 infections wane and the work economy recover and improve, employees are using their paid sick leave more than ever and lawmakers are more than happy to add to their balances and create new rules for employers to follow. One of the most confusing, emerging requirements for employers is the rate that you pay for paid sick leave hours. If you haven’t checked out your paid sick leave requirements this year, it might be time to take a peek. Read more about paid leave laws here.
- Non-Competition. Some states have begun to intensely focus on non-competition agreements, while others won’t touch the stuff. If your state is in the first category, you might see massive restrictions on how these restrictive covenants are implemented. The newest trend, now moving through Washington and Colorado, is to include compensation restrictions on the use of non-competition requirements. Some new laws even include criminal sanctions. Read more about non-competition agreements here.
- Arbitration. The federal government has rolled up its proverbial sleeves and is taking on arbitration, front-and-center. Congress already limited mandatory arbitration for sexual assault and harassment claims, and the Supreme Court is set to issue a critical decision later this summer that could have an immediate impact on Californian businesses that maintain arbitration agreements covering so-called PAGA claims. The outcome may also influence state legislation, whether proposed or prospective, that seeks to convey rights such as those that lead to PAGA collective actions. Read more about the federal ban on mandatory arbitration for sexual assault and harassment claims here.
- Pay Practices. From equal pay to minimum wage, from meal periods to travel time, the last few years have seen an unprecedented increase in wage and hour legislation. As some states begin to take the reins overpay practices within their jurisdictions, employers juggle an ever-increasing framework of technical rules. Just one mistake could land you in the heart of a class action lawsuit. It’s best to have a thorough review conducted at least annually. Learn more about wage and hour developments here.
- Handbook Policies (Especially EEO and Harassment). The advent of movements such as #MeToo and a spike in accommodation requests (especially for religious beliefs and practices), as well as several federal questions about the scope and coverage of protected classes such as “sex,” were bound to increase local lawmakers’ focus on equal employment. Make sure you are up to date on any training requirements for your employees and that your policies include all the information (and in some places, even forms) that are required under either state or local law. If the lamination is peeling from your breakroom labor posters and their once white backgrounds have long since yellowed, you may need to free up some extra space on your wall for the additional posting requirements issued by some states in the past few years. Read more about employee handbook guidance here.
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