On April 19, 2024, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published the final rule and interpretive guidance for implementation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The final rule becomes effective June 18, 2024.

Join Julie Proscia and Sara Zorich on April 24 at 10 AM as they discuss the trends of these new pay transparency laws.

In August 2023, the US Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule that became final last week, giving employees the ability to designate essentially any third-party as their “authorized representative” during OSHA workplace safety inspections --- even union reps and community organizers. This rule goes into effect on May 31, 2024. 

As legalization of cannabis has spread, profits have grown in the 25 states that allow for the retail sale of cannabis for recreational use, and labor unions have found great opportunity for getting a lift from the cannabis industry -- no pun intended.  Eight of those 25 states have passed legislation that encourage or even require cannabis industry employers to enter into labor peace agreements (LPA), often referred to as “neutrality agreements,” with labor unions, as a condition of obtaining or renewing a cultivation or dispensary license.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a controversial rule change to its longstanding “joint employer rule” in October of 2023, which dramatically lowered the thresholds by which a company could be deemed jointly liable and responsible under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) for another company’s unfair labor practices or collective bargaining obligations. In effect, the new rule could make unrelated, separate companies jointly responsible for violations of another employer under the NLRA.

The Illinois’ Genetic Information Privacy Act (“GIPA”) has been Illinois law for over twenty years. Yet, only in the last year or two has there been an explosion of lawsuits being filed against companies in various industries, all alleging violations of the statute. 

CAL/OSHA recently issued guidance on its Workplace Violence Prevention mandates that were created and implemented on September 30, 2023 when Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 553 (SB 553) into law and which go into effect on July 1, 2024.

In a case filed in the Northern District of Illinois (Staffing Services Association of IL, et. al. vs. Jane Flanagan, Director of the IL Department of Labor), a federal district court granted plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief thereby preventing the IL Department of Labor (IDOL) from enforcing a key provision contained in the 2023 amendments to the IL Day & Temporary Labor Services Act (IDTLSA). While the plaintiffs were not successful in their attempt to block other key sections of the amendments involving “notifying temporary workers of labor disputes” and “interested parties having standing to pursue private lawsuits on behalf of workers,” the court blocked the “equivalent benefits” piece to the “Equal Pay for Equal Work” section of the law.

The recently overhauled paid leave ordinances in Illinois include: Illinois Paid Leave For All Workers Act (effective January 1, 2024), Cook County Paid Leave (effective February 1, 2024) and the City of Chicago Paid Leave (effective July 1, 2024)/City of Chicago Sick Leave (amended) (effective July 1, 2024). Compliance is going to require more than an updated leave policy, so it is important to review your policies and practices to make sure you are compliant.

Join Sara Zorich and Beverly Alfon as they provide a timely webcast, where attendees will learn about this new law, how to ...

Conscientious objection in health care is the refusal of a health care professional to provide or participate in the delivery of a legal, medically appropriate health care service to a patient because of personal beliefs.  Federal conscience rights are contained in various federal statutes and regulations -- the Church Amendments, Section 45 of the Public Health Act, the Weldon Amendment, the Affordable Care Act and Medicare and Medicaid regulations – that collectively protect the right of health care providers to object to performing certain medical procedures if doing so would be contrary to the provider’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.

California’s equal pay data reporting law applies to private companies that have at least 100 employees nationwide on payroll and at least one California employee. The reporting deadline for the 2023 reporting year is May 8, 2024.

On Friday, February 9, 2024, Illinois’ General Assembly introduced legislation to eliminate the tip credit in Illinois by January 1, 2025. If passed, ALL Illinois employers will be required to pay ALL their employees at least the applicable minimum wage, including employees who earn or receive tips and gratuities. This would mean that Illinois employers would no longer be able to credit the tips and gratuities their tipped employees receive towards paying them minimum wage starting on January 1, 2025. 

On January 18, 2024, the City of Chicago Office of Labor Standards (OLS) issued proposed rules, FAQs, and a Flyer for its New Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance (Ordinance) effective July 1, 2024. 

California Assembly Bill 1076, passed last fall, added a new Business & Professions Code §16600.1. By February 14, 2024, California employers must notify in writing current and certain former employees that any noncompete agreement or clause to which they may be subject is void (unless it falls within one of the limited statutory exceptions). It also applies to customer non-solicitation requirements.

For H-1B visa holders, the logistics of traveling home for a wedding can be almost as challenging to plan as the wedding.

A man who traveled to India for a wedding had to remain there for weeks to get a visa to return to the US. He had to apply for the visa in India, have an interview, and then wait 3 weeks for the consulate to vet his application and return the passport with the visa foil. The waiting time caused him to postpone a major business deal.

Consulate and embassy waiting times have ballooned to eight, nine, or even twelve months in some places including Mexico and Canada – and that’s ...

Employers in each of the below states must be aware of new posters and ensure they are displayed in the workplace -- including, to the extent applicable, remote workplaces. Links to posters are provided below.

Alaska

Arizona

Flagstaff, Arizona

Arkansas

California

2023 is now “in the books” and organized labor is likely seething at seeing their numbers drop -- once again. Despite the media headlines in 2023 about union organizing drives, strikes and “wins” at the negotiating table for a few notable companies, workers represented by a labor union dropped to an all-time low for the second straight year.

On January 23, 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released figures showing that the percentage of workers who were part of a labor union, dropped to a new low of 10% in 2023 (down from the previous record low of 10.1% in 2022). Among ...

On January 10, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its Final Rule on the standard for determining who is an employee or independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Final Rule is set to take effect on March 11, 2024.

Background

The FLSA provides wage and hour protections to “employees” that do not apply to “independent contractors,” including minimum wage and overtime minimums. Accordingly, misclassification of workers has been and continues to be a major focus of the DOL. In light of the potential economic impact that changes to ...

Several new changes impacting Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (EPEWA) took effect on January 1, 2024. Employers with at least one employee located and working in Colorado must now comply with certain posting and notice requirements for all Colorado based employment opportunities, including for promotion opportunities. The EPEWA requirements apply only to an employer’s Colorado based employees.   

Several changes impacting employers in jurisdictions across the nation are summarized below. Read our blog below to determine if any of these laws apply to you.

California

  • California’s statewide minimum wage increased to $16.00 per hour for all employers on January 1, 2024. Some cities and counties in California have a local minimum wage that is higher than the state rate.

Illinois

  • Effective 11/17/2023 -- On November 17, 2023, Governor Pritzker Signed H.B. 3641 into law which, among other things, delays implementation of the equal pay for equal work mandate until April 1, 2024. IL ...

Amundsen Davis invites you to a webcast event on February 6, 2024 at 8:30AM CT. Join attorneys from our Labor, Employment, Benefits & Immigration, OSHA and Construction service groups as they highlight key issues impacting the construction industry in 2024.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Davis-Bacon and Prevailing Wage Updates
  • Inflation Reduction Act Projects
  • OSHA Updates for 2024
  • Updates to Construction Contracts

Who should attend? Construction Industry CEOs, COOs, CFOs, Accountants, Human Resource Managers, Safety Consultants, and Risk Managers.

OSHA recently announced a significant change in its head protection policy, and is transitioning from traditional hard hats to safety helmets for its employees. This move is more than just an internal policy shift, and signals a broader push that will soon affect all employers whose employees are required to wear head protection, likely leading to citations when employees wear traditional hard hats in lieu of the helmets—which OSHA specifically notes can fall off, do not protect the side of the head, and keep heat trapped inside.

While the announcement, on its face, focuses on OSHA ...

As we wind down 2023, your company may be sharing with its employees either through business closing periods or end-of-the-year bonuses. Employers must be cognizant that these generous gestures may carry compliance obligations for the business.

BONUSES

Employers must be careful when paying out bonuses at the end of the year to non-exempt employees. As with other bonuses, a holiday bonus must be included in overtime calculations for nonexempt employees unless it is completely discretionary or is a gift. If a bonus is promised or expected or is dependent on the quality, quantity or ...

With the January 1, 2024, effective date of the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (IPLAWA) quickly approaching, employers need to ensure they are analyzing their existing paid leave policies to determine what changes need to be made before the end of 2023.

The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has been providing more information regarding the “rules” for the IPLAWA. The IDOL has published additional guidance through FAQs --- which are not law, but should nonetheless be taken into consideration and reviewed carefully when finalizing paid leave policies for the purpose of ...

With the advent of the federal Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”), which requires filings by most newly formed and smaller existing corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, or other similar entities created by a filing with the Secretary of State or other similar office, businesses should be aware of the upcoming compliance changes going into effect on January 1, 2024.

Join corporate attorney Karen Tobin for a timely discussion on the changes to filing requirements going into effect at the beginning of 2024.

Early in the New Year we often see employees switching jobs, which can trigger disputes over restrictive covenants in their employment agreements. As 2023 draws to a close, here are some things to keep in mind to protect your company, its customers, and its information against unfair competition from departing employees:

Assume the worst. We tend to assume people will comply with their contractual obligations. Employers should not assume a departing employee will comply with a restrictive covenant. Some employees forget they even have an employment agreement. Some think the ...

Facing a stubborn backlog and an influx of immigrants seeking refuge, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed a rule featuring a new fee schedule in January 2023. The proposed fee schedule includes sharp increases in fees for H-1B visas, green cards, and naturalization.

USCIS has deferred the final ruling on the fees until early 2024. The steep increases are worthy of your attention now, by filing for your green card or naturalization before the fees rise.

Why Immigration Fees Are Rising

USCIS’s current fees went into effect on December 23, 2016. Fees ...

Certain states are prohibiting employers from entering into settlement agreements, while others have reduced family-leave insurance rates and prohibited employers from cooperating in any inquiry or investigation into an employee and abortion-related services. Read the full article to determine whether any of these laws apply to you.

CALIFORNIA

Under A.B. 352, employers are prohibited from disclosing certain information to any person, agency, or department from another state, if the disclosure would identify or is related to a person seeking or obtaining an abortion (or ...

On November 9, 2023, the Chicago City Council passed the Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance. Beginning on January 1, 2024, the new ordinance requires that all employers, with one or more employee, provide employees with 10 paid leave days. The new law is not only applicable to employers that are located in Chicago but also covers any employee that spends two or more hours performing work or traveling for work in the city.

Join Julie Proscia and Heather Bailey for a timely webcast on Wednesday, November 29 at 1PM CT, offering a clarifying look at the confusing new law and what ...

Happy holidays…Not really. On November 9, 2023, the Chicago City Council passed the Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance. The new ordinance creates a confusing set of requirements for employers to navigate. Beginning on January 1, 2024, the ordinance requires that all employers, with one or more employee, provide employees with 10 paid leave days. The new law is not only applicable to employers that are located in Chicago but also covers any employee that spends two or more hours performing work or traveling for work in the city. The traveling time must be compensable ...

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) prohibits covered employers from discriminating against employees based on disability and requires that employers reasonably accommodate an individual with a known disability. Of course, not all disabilities are “known” – they may not be obvious or observable to an employer and they may not be clearly disclosed by the employee. So when does the duty to accommodate on the part of the employer trigger? What of the employee who complains of physical ailments and requests an accommodation but does not submit documentation from his or her physician?

On September 29 the EEOC issued a press release declaring it filed “143 new employment discrimination lawsuits in fiscal year 2023, noting that is more than a 50% increase over fiscal year 2022 suit filings.” The release also emphasized that 25 of the cases were systemic prosecutions, more than double the number of such cases in the past 3 years.

Today the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) officially published its NEW Joint Employer Rule, that lowers the standard to an unprecedented level whereby an entity may be deemed jointly liable and responsible under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) for another entity’s unfair labor practices or collective bargaining obligations.

There have been several recent changes impacting employers in jurisdictions across the nation. Read the post to see if any of them apply to you.

On August 29, 2023, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released more guidance and proposed rules on key provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that requires employers to meet certain labor mandates involving apprenticeship mandates, prevailing wage requirements and possible forced unionization on green energy construction projects.

With the January 1, 2024, effective date of the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act (IPLAWA) quickly approaching, employers need to ensure they are analyzing their existing paid leave policies to determine what changes need to be made before the end of 2023.

On Friday, October 6, 2023, Chicago’s City Council passed the “One Fair Wage” Ordinance (“Ordinance”), which gradually phases out Chicago’s “tip credit” over a five-year period until it is completely eliminated by June 30, 2028. At which point, all tipped employees working in the City of Chicago will earn the same hourly minimum wage rate as non-tipped employees. Meaning, on and after July 1, 2028, Chicago employers will no longer be able to credit an employee’s earned tips and gratuities towards their hourly wage rate and will be required to pay all employees, including tipped employees, Chicago’s minimum wage rate.

In the immigration community, autumn brings a new-year sense of renewal. A new US government fiscal year beginning October 1 means a fresh start to the annual allocation of green cards for those looking to apply. But application backlogs which have grown for countries like mainland China and India have tempered that October optimism. A new wrinkle added to the application process this year has made it trickier.

On September 30, 2023, California enacted Senate Bill No. 553 (“S.B. 553”), which requires covered California employers to adopt a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan by July 1, 2024.  These plans may be stand-alone documents or incorporated as new sections of the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). 

On June 9, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed into law HB 3491 which amends the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (IPWA) to provide workers with the  rights against general contractors and sub-contractors. Effective January 1, 2024, any worker, laborer or mechanic performing construction work on a prevailing wage project can file a private cause of action against the employer for any differential between what was paid and what was required to be paid to them pursuant to the IPWA. Sounds reasonable, right? Of course.

Unsurprisingly, California is yet again changing its already very employee friendly employment laws. Currently, California leads the nation with its employee friendly laws, though states like Illinois are quickly catching up. The California Legislature’s latest move is a first for any US state by banning “caste” discrimination in the workplace under its civil rights and employment discrimination laws. Seattle passed a similar law in February.

On July 28, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed into law a number of amendments to Illinois’ Prevailing Wage Act (IPWA), including HB 3370, which amends the IPWA to include “power washing.” Specifically, the term “Public works” under the IPWA is now revised.

Employers in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin must now accommodate an employee’s work-schedule “if an employee's disability substantially interferes with his ability to travel to and from work … if commuting to work is a prerequisite to an essential job function, including attendance in the workplace, and if the accommodation is reasonable under all the circumstances.” Equal Emp. Opportunity Commission v. Charter Communications, LLC, 75 F.4th 729, 734 (7th Cir. 2023). 

Hold onto your hard hat! What you thought you knew about federal Davis-Bacon prevailing wage law is changing --- substantially changing decades of well-established rules, precedent and interpretations as to the applicability and scope of federal prevailing wage laws to construction projects and how contractors must comply with the legal mandates. Remember, federally funded projects that involve construction work in excess of $2,000, will trigger Davis-Bacon obligations. 

OSHA has been particularly busy and aggressive lately, making good on Biden Administration promises and talking points—hiring more inspectors, appointing new administrators, conducting more inspections, aggressively issuing citations, adopting and expanding emphasis programs, reviving old rules, and expanding existing rules.

On September 1st the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposed rule that would require nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid to comply with a first-ever federal staffing mandate. If adopted, the requirements would be phased in over two to five years. The comment period for the proposed rule closes November 6.

Entering 2023, the union membership rate dropped to a new historic low of 10.1%. Among private sector workers, the numbers were even more bleak for unions: just 6% of the overall private sector workforce is now unionized (compared to 33% in the public sector). The membership rate actually dipped in 2022 in both the private and public sectors. Organized labor has been in full panic mode and seeking assistance from its allies in D.C. while trying to organize as many young adults as possible working in coffee shops and cannabis stores.

On July 28, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed into law a number of amendments to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (IPWA), including HB 3792, which amends the IPWA to include, among other things, all work related to fixtures or permanent attachments affixed to traffic light and street light poles in the Act’s definition of the term “Public works” --- regardless if public funds are used or not. 

This summer seemed to fly by as quickly as the Illinois Legislature and Governor J.B. Pritzker enacted a dizzying slew of more new employment laws between the months of June and August. These changes are sweeping and require your attention now.

The current employment market is placing incredible stress on businesses, many of which are struggling to find enough employees to simply cover shifts. Pay increases and higher recruiting costs, consequently, continue to rise. On top of these challenges, inflation and other market pressures have resulted in higher operating costs, compounding the impact to the bottom line.

Today, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) just handed big labor a major assist when it comes to union organizing. In Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, LLC  and International Brotherhood of Teamsters 31-CA-238239, 372 NLRB 130, the NLRB ruled that an employer must essentially recognize a labor union claiming to represent a majority of its employees in an appropriate unit --- unless the employer promptly files a petition (an RM Petition) to test the union’s majority status or the appropriateness of the unit. The NLRB went on to explain that absent unforeseen ...

On June 30, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed HB 3351 into law, which amends the Illinois Power Agency Act (IPAA) to require certain projects under the Illinois Solar For All Program to be subject to the prevailing wage requirements of the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (IPWA). Effective June 30, 2023, all workers performing work on such projects must be paid in accordance with the IPWA. Of course, all owners, developers and contractors must become intimately familiar with the IPWA mandates. Since such work has been historically not covered by the IPWA, there is likely a giant learning curve. The IPWA sets forth very detailed and nuanced requirements well beyond simply paying workers in accordance with the local area wide collective bargaining agreement.

The possible uses of artificial intelligence (AI) have received much coverage lately. Now the risks of using AI to assist in the hiring process are in the spotlight since the EEOC just settled its first suit alleging discrimination in hiring through the use of AI.

On Wednesday July 19, 2023, the Chicago City Council introduced legislation to eliminate the city’s “tip credit” over a two-year period (if passed), in an effort to raise the city’s current hourly minimum wage rate for tipped employees to equal the city’s hourly minimum wage rate for non-tipped employees.

On August 4, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 2862 into law amending Illinois’ Day and Temporary Labor Services Act. This game changing legislation passed by State Legislature affects Illinois’ Staffing Industry as a whole and ALL EMPLOYERS that utilize temporary labor in Illinois. For more information about this new legislation, see our previous blog on House Bill 2862.

An employee complains to human resources, “I am a hamster from Venus and filing unfair labor practice charge because the pay policy of paying bi-weekly is chilling my Section 7 rights!” No, this is not a bizarre scene out of a Monty Python movie but now the potential absurd reality in workplaces across the country. Reality, reasonableness…. who needs them? Not the Biden NLRB.

Illinois employers need to be aware of additional notice and distribution requirements under the recently-signed House Bill 3733 (the “Bill”), which will become effective January 1, 2024 – particularly staffing agencies and employers with remote workers and/or workers who do not regularly report to a specific jobsite.

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a notice of proposed rulemaking to clarify the personal protective equipment (PPE) standard for the construction industry. In its press release, the Department argued that the current standard does not state clearly that PPE must fit each affected employee properly. The proposed change would clarify that PPE must fit each employee properly to protect them from occupational hazards. The Department went on to state that there have long been safety concerns regarding the failure of standard-sized PPE to protect physically smaller construction workers (especially women) properly.

Many states are prohibiting employers from entering into non-competes with their employees.  Read the full article to determine whether any of these new laws apply to you!

On August 1st, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will publish the new Form I-9 for employers to use to confirm a new employee’s authorization to work in the United States. Employers are encouraged to begin using the new form on August 1st for all new hires, but may use the current form (version 10/21/19) through October 31st. Starting November 1, only the new Form I-9 may be used for newly hired employees and reverifications. The new Form I-9 will be a single page and will include a checkbox for employers to indicate they examined Form I-9 documentation remotely under a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-authorized alternative procedure (see further information below). USCIS is moving the Preparer/Translator Certification and the Reverification/Rehire sections to stand alone documents. Thus, if either of those situations apply, employers must complete a separate document and maintain it with the Form I-9.

Resurrecting a rule that it attempted—but failed—to implement years ago, the Department of Labor has announced a new rule that will require certain employers in high-hazard industries to electronically submit injury and illness information. The rule applies to establishments with 100 or more employees in certain high-hazard industries including construction, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, warehousing, and utilities.

On July 17, 2023 in Adolph v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. S274671, 2023 WL 4553702 (Cal. July 17, 2023), the California Supreme Court held that an individual can maintain a class action in court under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) even when that individual’s California Labor Code claims are sent to arbitration. This decision breaks away from the ruling set forth in the Supreme Court Case – Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (2022) 596 U.S. [142 S.Ct. 1906], 213 L.Ed.2d 179.

OSHA is launching a new three-year initiative it claims is intended to prevent workplace hazards in warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centers, and high-risk retail establishments.  High-risk retail establishments covered by the program include:

Yep. You read that right. Not really sure how else to describe this little nugget. As Illinois continues to do all it can to help labor organizations, the latest assist is a real stomach turner. 

In a recent decision, Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for companies to face lawsuits in the state where they have registered to do business. The ruling stems from a case involving a Virginia-based former employee’s lawsuit against Norfolk Southern in Pennsylvania, despite the alleged injuries occurring in other states. The Court’s majority decision upheld the notion of “registration by consent” laws, allowing states to assert jurisdiction over out-of-state companies based on corporate registration.

Bias, and particularly unconscious bias, is tricky. It is present in the most well intentioned of individuals and can be challenging to identify and therefore manage. However, just because it is challenging to identify does not make it impossible, and it is important to fight. Identifying areas for potential bias in hiring and the employment relationship will not only greatly increase your candidate pool and support retention but will also reduce your legal exposure.

In Groff v. DeJoy, Postmaster General (No. 22-174, June 29, 2023 Slip Opinion), the US Supreme Court held that Title VII requires an employer that denies a religious accommodation to show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business. The Court opined that when courts review religious accommodations in the future they must take into account all relevant factors in the case, including the particular accommodations at issue and their practical impact in light of the nature, size, and operating cost of an employer.

With the rise of active shooters in workplaces and schools there is an ever increasing concern over workplace violence and related employee mental issues. When addressing these concerns a company is faced with a complicated legal matrix to navigate. Companies must closely analyze and comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and state workers’ compensation laws, among others.

Illinois temporary staffing agencies are already highly regulated under the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act (the “Act”). As it currently stands, the Act requires temporary staffing agencies to register with the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL), which requires proof of, for example, workers compensation insurance, as well as identification of client and employee data. The Act also currently restricts fees that temporary staffing agencies may charge their clients for converting the agency’s staff to permanent employees, and provides many additional safeguards pertaining to temporary workers’ pay and other terms and conditions of employment.

The final phase of the green card application involves an Adjustment of Status (AOS). While their AOS is pending, applicants cannot leave the US without permission, a document called Advance Parole.

Cyber fraud has been around as long as the internet itself, but cyber criminals are more sophisticated than ever. While any experienced email user can spot a phony “Nigerian Prince” a mile away, even the most vigilant businesses are vulnerable to business email compromise (called “BEC”) attacks by the new breed of internet fraudsters.

Effective June 1, 2023, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) allows regulated employers to use oral fluid testing as part of their drug testing programs. The change is pursuant to a final rule that was published on May 2, 2023. However, practically speaking, oral fluid testing cannot yet be implemented because, as of June 1, 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had not yet certified any laboratories to perform the testing – and two must be certified for any testing to be performed.

As part of his two-year spending plan, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has proposed mandating 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for many private and public sector workers by January 1, 2025. This proposal, if passed, would represent a marked change from existing state and federal laws which provide for job-protected leave on an unpaid basis to certain eligible employees of larger employers.

On January 1, 2023, we saw the Illinois minimum wage increase from $12.00 to $13.00. The City of Chicago and Cook County are also increasing their set minimum wages on July 1, 2023.

Following on the proposed rule of the FTC on non-competes, another federal threat to non-competes has emerged, this time from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). 

On June 1, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) held that federal law does not preempt the right of an employer to sue a striking union for damages in state court if the union failed to take reasonable precautions to protect the employer against foreseeable, aggravated, and imminent danger.

It is more and more common for employers to hear employee allegations of a “hostile work environment,” “harassment” or a “toxic workplace.” In some instances current or former employees are using those terms as a defense mechanism when their performance is being criticized or they are facing discipline or discharge. Often the terms are used to describe the behavior of supervisors or co-workers. It is important for employers to properly assess such allegations and determine whether there is the potential for employer liability.

Florida recently enacted significant legislation relating to employee immigration verification. Senate Bill 1718 (the “Bill”), which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law on May 10, 2023, makes using E-Verify mandatory for any private employer with 25 or more employees, imposes penalties for those employing undocumented individuals, and enhances penalties for human trafficking. Previously, only Florida’s public sector employers were required to use E-Verify. Effective July 1, 2023, all private sector employers in Florida with 25 or more employees must use E-Verify to confirm the work authorization status of newly hired employees.

While incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) into the corporate culture is not something that is new, it is something that has become increasingly important and complex. Activist consumers are leveraging their purchasing power, public and private contractors are requiring DEI efforts, and an increasing amount of legislation is being promulgated to govern employment practices related to compensation, hiring and employment. This trifecta makes navigating internal and external pressures challenging. In order to successfully navigate these waters, more and more companies are conducting internal DEI audits to analyze their culture, processes and procedures and implement targeted improvements when problems are identified. Although conducting internal DEI audits is incredibly important to building an inclusive culture, doing so without the aid of counsel is fraught with risk and can result in a legal nightmare.

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance makes it a civil rights violation “[f]or any employer, employee, agent of any employer, employment agency or labor organization to engage in sexual harassment.”  Municipal Code of Chicago, 6-010-040. As we previously discussed in a blog, last year, Chicago’s City Council amended the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance by expanding the definition of sexual harassment and adding various requirements related to harassment prevention training, policy, postings and recordkeeping.

Join Amundsen Davis attorneys Peter Hansen and Laurie Meyer for a webcast on May 31 at 12:00 PM CT to discuss recent changes to, and a comparison of, Illinois and Wisconsin employment laws, along with recent developments in Federal employment laws.

Several recent changes impacting employers in jurisdictions across the nation are summarized below. Many states and municipalities have increased their hourly minimum wage rates, some to as high as $18.07 per hour. Read the full article to determine whether any of these changes apply to you! 

On May 1, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) issued a decision, Lion Elastomers LLC, that provides employees with extensive cover for inappropriate workplace behavior under the guise of the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”). Moving forward, employers must carefully scrutinize the environment and circumstances under which bad employee behavior occurs and analyze whether levying consequences for such behavior could land it in hot water under the Act.

Last month, the Illinois Department of Labor (“IDOL”) fairly quietly released amended regulations affecting the interpretation and enforcement of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (“IWPCA”). A complete listing of the amendments appears on the Illinois Secretary of State website. (starting at p.5406).

There seems to be an almost daily litany of layoffs by large corporations that instantly become media fodder. For example, McDonald’s recent layoff, widely reported to have impacted hundreds of white collar employees, comes on the heels of mass layoffs by Amazon, Meta, and Disney. Given this climate, it is best for employers to take a look at their policies and procedures for terminating employees, whether individually or as part of a larger reduction in force to ensure compliance with state and federal law.

The National Labor Relations Board, as currently constituted, continues its efforts to kneecap employers who dare to resist unionization efforts. We have already seen NLRB General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo’s, scorched-earth approach to promote unionization through enforcement activities targeting employer conduct that for decades has been perfectly lawful, and then suddenly finding the same conduct to be unlawful and unfair labor practices (including attempting to remove employers’ rights to require a secret-ballot election, instead of accepting authorization cards, to determine union support by a majority of employees; and making it unlawful for employers to hold group meetings with employees during union organizing campaigns to educate employees about the union and the collective bargaining process). Now, not only is conduct that previously has been considered lawful been deemed unlawful, the NLRB is promoting enhanced penalties and damages for employers who commit unfair labor practices.

Proactive employers are well-versed in safeguarding against workplace discrimination based on race, gender, religion, age, or disability. But, what about lesser known forms of prohibited workplace discrimination like genetic information discrimination? The Federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and its Illinois counterpart, Genetic Information Protection Act (GIPA), both prohibit employers from disclosing genetic information or basing any employment decision on an employee’s genetic information. Both statutes contain private rights of action for violations. GIPA, however, contains a statutory damages provision that provides for penalties of $2,500 for each negligent violation, and $15,000 for each intentional or reckless violation. With these severe consequences for non-compliance in mind, we answer some questions on these statutes.

A prior article reviewed a decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court which dealt with the relationship between the workplace and an applicant’s prior domestic violence convictions (Cree, Inc., v. LIRC).  This article will discuss a case which followed later in 2022, a decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in Vega v. LIRC, et al.,  2021 AP 24, Petition for Review Denied, which dealt with whether an employee’s admission to his employer of the facts underlying two felony deferred prosecution agreements for sexual assault could serve as an independent basis to terminate the employment of the employee.

In a rare win for employers, on March 23, 2023 the Illinois Supreme Court issued its decision in Walton v. Roosevelt University, affirming dismissal of claims brought under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by a union worker trying to pursue a class action lawsuit against his prior employer due to the employer requiring employees to enroll a scan of their hand geometry onto a biometric timekeeping device in order to clock in and out for work. Specifically, the Court held that federal labor law -- Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) -- preempts BIPA claims brought by union workers where their underlying collective bargaining agreement (CBA) contains a broad management rights provision. The ruling requires workers, whose employment is controlled by a CBA containing a broad management rights clause (which is common), to proceed with BIPA claims through the collective bargaining process; not through the courts. This decision serves as a major blow to those pursuing class action BIPA lawsuits where a union contract is in place. To be more clear, this decision can effectively shut down and close out BIPA lawsuits and the dreaded class action lawsuit.

Check out some of the most recent local employment law updates in Illinois, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania regarding wages and paid leave.

On February 9, 2023 the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor (WHD) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) providing guidance to WHD field staff regarding proper compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and proper leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), for employees who telework or work away from an employer’s facility.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted to extend the public comment period for its proposed new rule that would ban certain employee non-competes. The new deadline for public comments on the proposed rule is April 19, 2023. The previous deadline was March 20th

Most employers with 50+ employees are aware that under the federal FMLA, eligible employees may, for qualifying reasons, take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. Employers are also aware that employees can, under certain circumstances, take this leave on an “intermittent” or “reduced schedule” basis. For instance, an eligible employee might work four rather than eight hours per day for many weeks or months for FMLA-qualifying reasons. In those cases, an employer might believe that since 12 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week equals 480 hours, the maximum amount of FMLA leave any employee can take in a 12-month period is 480 hours.

Although the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) has included arrest and conviction record as a category protected from discrimination since 1977, a decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court last year demonstrates that the contours of protection under the law are still being developed. In general, the law requires any Wisconsin employer (with some limited exceptions such as schools dealing with unpardoned felons) to establish that a “substantial relationship” exists between the circumstances of the arrest or charge (in order to suspend an employee) or the conviction (to refuse hiring or terminate employment).

It is almost certain that Governor Pritzker will sign the Paid Leave for All Workers Act (Act) passed on January 10, 2023. The Act is littered with potential pitfalls for employer policies and practices regarding attendance, evaluations/reviews and discipline.

Dust off your severance agreement template, again. This applies to all private employers – whether you have a unionized workforce or not. 

Right on the heels of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Tims, the Court delivered yet another crushing blow to Illinois businesses in Cothron v. White Castle System, Inc. Answering the crucial question of when a Biometric Information Privacy Act, 740 ILCS 14/1, et seq. (BIPA), claim accrues for the collection and disclosure of biometric “identifiers,” the razor thin majority found that a separate claim accrues “each time a private entity scans or transmits” an individual’s biometrics.

On February 15, 2023, in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. v. Bonta et al., a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) preempts a state rule that discriminates against the formation of an arbitration agreement, even if that agreement is ultimately enforceable. The law at issue, California Assembly Bill 51 (“AB 51”), made it a criminal offense for an employer to require an existing employee or an applicant for employment to consent to arbitrate specified claims as a condition of employment.  The court concluded that because the FAA preempts AB 51, AB 51 cannot be enforced. 

Check out some of the most recent state law updates on employee rights, leave and minimum wage.

A remote employee, Karlee Besse of Reach CPA, an accounting firm based in British Columbia, was terminated for theft of time, and then subsequently ordered to pay back approximately $2,750 to the firm for misrepresented wages discovered by time-tracking software. With the growing number of remote workers and the increased usage of productivity monitoring software, this case is an interesting study in the newest employment dynamics.

The BIPA hits keep coming for employers and companies in Illinois. Today, in a long-awaited opinion in Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc., the Illinois Supreme Court found that a five-year statute of limitations applies to all BIPA claims. This is not welcomed news for employers as it broadens the potential exposure under this biometric law that comes with the heaviest penalties for failure to comply—even if no injury is suffered.

The H-1B season is off and running! Though United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) has not specified the dates the online lottery will be open this year, we know it will occur in March. I recommend that all petitions be ready for submission by March 1.

2022 is now “in the books” and organized labor has to be reeling seeing the latest news. Despite all of those sensational headlines involving a few high profile employers facing union organizing drives last year, the union membership rate dropped to a new historic low in 2022.

On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed an omnibus appropriations bill into law that includes expanded protections for pregnant and nursing employees through two new acts: The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP).

The long-awaited SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 (“SECURE 2.0”), containing sweeping changes to workplace retirement plans, was signed into law on December 29, 2022 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. SECURE 2.0 builds on the revisions to retirement plan rules enacted by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the original SECURE Act), and makes even more aggressive changes. 

While we continue to absorb the impact of the National Labor Relations Board’s recent expansion of its authority to include awards for consequential damages in unfair labor practice (ULP) cases, there are  other significant pro-union decisions and directives that need to be on your radar. 

Non-compete agreements – contract clauses, usually in employment agreements, that ban an employee from working in a certain industry, or in a certain geographic area for a period of time following termination of employment – have been under increasing scrutiny by state legislatures over the last several years. Many states, including Illinois, have banned their use for workers below certain income thresholds, for example. 

On December 21, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a statewide pay transparency bill, Senate Bill S9427A, that will take effect September 17, 2023. New York’s Pay Transparency Law requires employers with four or more employees to disclose compensation or range of compensation to applicants and employees when posting any opportunities for hire, promotion, or transfer. The law defines “range of compensation” as the minimum and maximum annual salary or hourly range of compensation for a job, promotion, or transfer opportunity that the employer in good faith believes to be accurate at the time of the positing of an advertisement.

As labor unions continue to target banks and credit unions – employers that, as mentioned in our previous blog, unions historically avoided – employers in the financial industry must be aware of labor law developments.  It is critical that employers know and understand the rules of engagement in traditional labor law --- particularly as the law develops under the current administration.  What now will trigger an unfair labor practice charge or the ire of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is much different than a few years ago.  Additionally, the rules and procedures surrounding a union organizing drive is changing dramatically and evolving into a very pro-union process.

On November 21, 2022, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed Assembly Bill 8092B, amending the state's labor law to clarify that employers cannot retaliate against employees for “any legally protected absence pursuant to federal, local or state law.” 

To strengthen enforcement and improve compliance with workplace safety standards and reduce worker injuries and illnesses, the U.S. Department of Labor is expanding the criteria for placement in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (“SVEP”).

In another pro-union decision, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) recently held that employers are responsible for all “direct or foreseeable pecuniary harms” sustained by employees as a result of an unfair labor practice.  While such remedies have been ordered sparingly in the past on a case-by-case basis, the Board now mandates such an award in every successful unfair labor practice charge.

A 2019 study conducted by the U.S. Department of labor found that food production workers in Illinois and Ohio had significantly higher injury rates than the overall rates for manufacturers in the private sector. To try and correct this trend, OSHA started the Local Emphasis Program focused on more than 1,400 manufacturing facilities in both Illinois and Ohio.

With the holidays upon us, companies are assessing year-end to-do’s and considering what 2023 will bring. For companies employing California residents, compliance with the new California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) should be at the top of their list. Indeed, to date, companies that employed California residents had a reprieve from the consumer-facing rules and requirements of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA, which is, essentially, a data privacy “bill of rights” for Californians, even impacted many companies based outside of California but only as to their consumer-side relationships.

In 1986, the Reagan administration instituted use of the I-9 Immigrant form, requiring employers to verify their employees’ identity and eligibility to work. While the concept was simple and the current form was meant to be simple, compliance has been anything but simple and I-9 forms can feel like a minefield.

In another example of the Department of Labor (DOJ) pursuing criminal anti-trust cases against employers throughout the country, on October 27th, 2022, VDA OC, LLC (formerly Advantage On Call or AOC), a health care staffing company, pled guilty to conspiring with a competitor to assign and fix nurses salaries within a specific school district in Nevada, which violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act. We have previously written in more detail regarding the DOJ’s new commitment to criminally prosecute supposed labor market collusion amongst competitors. This guilty plea is essentially the DOJ’s first “win” in its criminal enforcement of labor violations under the federal antitrust laws, after incurring two prior losses.  If employers are not attuned to this area of the law already, this serves as yet another wake up call.

As we discussed in our previous blog post, in 2021 the EEOC issued a technical assistance guidance addressing employers’ obligations under Bostock v. Clayton County, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 landmark decision holding that Title VII prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We blogged about the Bostock decision in June 2020.

Proposed Amendment 1 to the Illinois Constitution creates many unknowns. However, it’s quite clear that the amendment accomplishes two major goals of labor organizations in Illinois. First, this will prevent Illinois from enacting any law that permits it to adopt “Right-to-Work” on any local or state level. Second, it will prevent lawmakers (in any level of government) from passing any law or local ordinance that attempts to reform, modify, moderate or in any manner address public union benefits and working conditions that are ultimately bargained for and agreed to in the past, current or future.

If companies that employ Illinois residents and use any type of equipment to scan fingers, hands, face, or eyes were not yet aware of and concerned by the Illinois’ biometric privacy law, the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA), they should be now. On October 12, 2022, after a week-long trial, a federal jury returned a verdict finding that one of the nation’s largest railway companies, BNSF, had violated BIPA—to the tune of a $228 million judgment.

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law a number of new bills impacting employers operating in California, who must remain vigilant with these developments as they are quickly going forward.  

On October 11, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it is proposing to do away with the existing independent contractor test that the Trump administration slipped into place in January 2021, in favor of a shift back to a “totality of circumstances” analysis.

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) recently held that employers must continue deducting union dues from workers’ paychecks (referred to as “dues checkoff”) as agreed in their collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”), even after those agreements expire.

Employers across all industries are concerned about employee retention in the continuing wake of the “Great Resignation” or the “Big Quit.” According to one of the largest global workforce surveys, 1 in 5 employees plan to quit in 2022.

On August 25, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to adopt the “pay-versus-performance” rule, requiring publicly traded companies (except foreign private issuers, registered investment companies, and Emerging Growth Companies) to provide clear disclosure to shareholders on the relationship between companies’ executive compensation and financial performance. The adoption finally implements Section 14(i) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), as added by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

The California State Legislature recently passed a Senate Bill 1162, a pay transparency bill intended to narrow the gender pay gap and differences in pay for Black and Latino employees. If the California Governor signs Senate Bill 1162 into law, California employers with 15 or more employees must include the pay scale for a position on all job postings and provide current employees with the pay scale for their position upon request. Moreover, employers with 100 or more employees must also submit an annual pay data report, including median and mean hourly rates for race, ethnicity and sex within each job category, to the Department of Fair Housing and Employment. Under this new law, employees and applicants would be able to access this pay information because the reports would be publicly accessible. The law includes civil pay penalties for employers in violation of these requirements.

Legislation aimed at expanding green energy construction projects is spreading throughout the United States. With it, prevailing wage mandates and project labor agreements tied to such projects are becoming more common. Construction contractors representing various trades and sizes need to be aware of the fine-print when considering bidding on these projects --- including simple repair and maintenance.

Recently, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a decision that expanded protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to people with gender dysphoria. While the case at issue was not employment-related, the implications of the decision are significant for all employers because it strengthens support for claims of ADA protection for individuals with gender dysphoria within the scope of employment, public accommodations, and government benefits and services.

On August 29, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) examined workplace restrictions on the display of union insignia where employers require employees to wear uniforms or designated clothing. In a 3-2 ruling, the NLRB decided that Tesla, Inc. violated labor law by restricting employees from wearing pro-union t-shirts because such restriction implicitly prohibits workers from substituting union attire for required uniforms.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that a contractual choice of law provision was irrelevant to whether workers were employees or independent contractors and to whether pay deductions were lawful.

Check out some of the most recent state law updates on COVID-19, employee rights, minimum wage and paid leave.

Join us on Wednesday, September 21 at noon for a live-stream of our Eighth Annual Labor & Employment Fall Seminar as we discuss hiring, onboarding and retention. Our attorneys will discuss everything from the initial interview to the written job offer and everything in between.

On August 16, 2022, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s  (EEOC) attempt to increase the level of scrutiny given to sex discrimination cases under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  With this ruling the Appellate Court affirmed a summary judgment award given to a large retail chain by a District Court in Wisconsin.

In a continuance of the labor-friendly trajectory of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) under the current administration, the 9th Circuit recently issued a decision upholding the right of the NLRB to award legal fees to a union incurred during the collective bargaining process. This ruling should put all unionized employers on notice of the ripple effects of decisions such as this one on their own bargaining.

In Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood v. NLRB, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit addressed the tension between a worker’s? Section 7 protected and concerted activity rights under the National Labor Relations Act and workplace harassment that’s forbidden by workplace anti-bias laws.  In a 2-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals held that the NLRB had adequate justification to rule that an employer violated federal labor law for firing a worker who wrote “whore board” on overtime sign-up sheets despite the employer’s contention that it was enforcing its anti-harassment policy.

States are becoming more focused on labor relations! Check out some of the most recent state law updates on employer-employee relationships, minimum wage and paid leave.

If we were to tell you that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) “Regarding Information Sharing, Cross-Agency Training, and Outreach in Areas of Common Regulatory Interest,” your response may well be “What?  Why?  And what ‘Common Regulatory Interest’ could they possibly share?”  Well, good questions.

Check out some of the recent updates in COVID-19 regulations, discrimination policies, minimum wage and more!

On July 12, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) - the federal agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws -  issued new guidance on when employers may require employees to screen/test employees for COVID-19.  The updated guidance can be found in What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws  (the “Guidance”).

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees essentially two paths to bring lawsuits for alleged FMLA violations:  retaliation claims and interference claims.  Employers are generally familiar with the concept of retaliation, and FMLA retaliation claims tend to fit a familiar mold:  If an employee suffers an adverse employment action (e.g., termination, unpaid suspension) that is causally connected to a request for FMLA leave or other FMLA-protected activity, the employee may have a claim for FMLA retaliation.

Illinois employers should update their leave policies in light of the new bereavement law going into effect on January 1, 2023.  On June 9, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed into law the Family Bereavement Leave Act (“FBLA”).  The FBLA amends the Child Bereavement Leave Act (“CBLA”) and expands upon an employer’s obligations to provide unpaid bereavement leave to its employees. 

As litigation costs continue to explode, more and more businesses have been including arbitration clauses in contracts with employees and customers. These clauses, which frequently include class action waivers, allow businesses to remove lawsuits from court to the more streamlined and cost-effective arbitration system. In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently enforced arbitration clauses in a wide variety of contexts.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade presents new challenges for employee benefit plans. By overturning the case establishing a constitutional right to abortion, the Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health allows individual states to impose restrictions or outright bans on abortion. The decision is quickly leading to a patchwork of state laws that plan sponsors must now consider.

Late last week, NLRB General Counsel Abruzzo issued yet another memorandum that she identified as an “Update on Efforts to Secure Full Remedies in Settlements.” She congratulated the Regional Directors for an “excellent job” implementing settlements in line with her September 2021 directives. The memorandum listed the various examples of the new make-whole remedies that Regions have secured through settlement agreements.

Learn about some of the most recent updates made to various state COVID-19 regulations!

Many states are updating their laws surrounding workplace rights and paid leave. This blog touches on some of the most recent and crucial updates made to local laws involving paid leave and worker rights.

On June 10, 2022 Governor Pritzker signed into law two new amendments to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (“Act”) that now expose non-union general contractors to liability for the wages of their subcontractor’s employees. Essentially, the amendments open up general contractors entering into construction contracts in Illinois to potential liability for claims brought under the Act against their subcontractors, for all contracts entered into on or after July 1, 2022.

Find out how some states have amended their state fair employment practices laws by redefining various key terms that have previously been consistent across the United States. 

On January 1, 2022, we saw the Illinois minimum wage increase from $11.00 to $12.00.  Not to be outdone, the City of Chicago and Cook County are increasing their set minimum wages on July 1, 2022.

On June 15, 2022, the United States Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) partially preempts a rule of California law that invalidates contractual waivers of the right to assert representative claims under California’s Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA).

USCIS has announced a few measures to ease the backlog of Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards. These may feel like baby steps. But they are steps in the right direction.

In today’s age of technology and innovation, more and more employers are hiring remote employees  who live and work in a geographic location outside of where their business is located.  Remote work offers advantages, including expanding access to a wider pool of employee talent and savings on overhead costs.  But managing a multi-state workforce can be challenging.

In today’s virtual world so much has changed – we work from home, we attend meetings from home, and now, many companies are hiring from home. Virtual interviewing is on the rise, and for good reason. Companies can interview from a wide-breadth of candidates across the country without having to fly interviewees to the main office. However, video conference platforms can also open business up to potential litigation and compliance risk. 

The Pandemic Era brought in droves of new challenges for employers, including The Great Resignation – an unprecedented trend of employees voluntarily quitting their jobs starting in 2021 and continuing to today.  The unemployment rate is low and employers’ demand for labor is high meaning that it is more important than ever for employers to implement strategies for employee retention. Employers may want to kick-start these retention strategies with an eye towards working parents. 

On April 7, CMS announced that it would be phasing out several temporary waivers enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic and restoring minimum regulatory requirements to protect residents’ health and safety.

Courts in the United States are split on whether a company’s acknowledgment of vicarious liability for an employee’s negligence, bars a claim of direct negligence against the company. Based on appellate court decisions, Illinois had been one of the states that barred direct negligence claims against a company when the company had acknowledged being vicariously liable for its employee’s actions. However, on April 21, 2022, in McQueen v. Green, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the earlier appellate court decisions and held that companies can be both vicariously liable for an employee’s negligence, as well as directly liable for the company’s negligence.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Commission on Human Relations (the “Commission”) recently amended and expanded the sexual harassment prohibitions set forth by the City of Chicago.  The Ordinance provides for many changes—it (i) expands the definition of “sexual harassment;” (ii) expands the requirement for written policy documents; (iii) increases the statute of limitations for reporting discrimination; (iv) increases the monetary penalty for discrimination; and (v) has caused additional “safety measures” to be implemented by employers. 

As employers continue to face staffing issues, using independent contractors has become more common. Health care entities need to be mindful of the special requirements that apply to such arrangements.

Perhaps flying under the radar of everyone except antitrust lawyers (and the employers who have been targeted), the Department of Justice (DOJ) has made a concerted push recently to use federal anti-trust laws as a tool to bolster workers’ rights, even going so far as to prosecute employers for alleged anticompetitive practices in labor markets. 

Here are some of the latest state and local employment law updates for May 13, 2022. 

Many—if not most—employment discrimination and retaliation lawsuits involve a company’s decision (a) to terminate or otherwise discipline an employee or (b) not to hire a particular applicant. And the reason why the company made its decision is quite possibly the most important fact in the majority—if not all—of these cases.

On May 2, 2022, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt, a case that deals with the Section 13(a)(1) and 29 C.F.R. § 541.601 highly compensated employee exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Employers with 100 or more employees in Illinois have begun receiving notice that it is time for their business to comply with obtaining their Equal Pay Act Registration Certificate (“EPRC”). In order to obtain the EPRC from the Illinois Department of Labor (“IDOL”) a business must complete an EPRC Compliance Statement, submit their Federal EEO-1 disclosure and provide pay data regarding their Illinois employees. 

Below are some of the latest state updates –

INDIANA

Indiana Code 24-4.9-3-3, which addresses “reasonable” delays in reporting data security breaches, was amended by H.B. 1351 to impose a forty-five (45) day limit on reporting breaches of certain personal information.  Effective July 1, 2022, employers must notify Indiana residents, including employees and applicants, no later than forty-five (45) days after discovering a breach of certain personal information.

MASSACHUSETTS

The COVID-19 Massachusetts Emergency Paid Sick Leave Program ended on March 15 ...

Board diversity requirements have hit the headlines again due to a recent ruling by a California Superior Court judge who struck down a 2020 California law (AB 979) that required companies headquartered in California to have from one to three board members who self-identify as a member of an “underrepresented community,” which includes Asian, Black, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander individuals, as well as those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It allowed the Secretary of State to fine companies who did not comply. The court found for the plaintiff ...

On April 11, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, filed a brief in a case pending before the NLRB, Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, seeking a return to the NLRB’s long-abandoned Joy Silk doctrine. Under that doctrine, unions may obtain representational status, simply by claiming to have the support of a majority of a private employer’s employees (typically through union card signing)—and putting the burden on the employer to affirmatively demonstrate a good-faith doubt as to that majority status in order to lawfully ...

Below are some of the latest state updates and posters —

CALIFORNIA

Minimum Wage Poster

The City of Pasadena has updated its Minimum Wage Poster to reflect a $16.11 hourly minimum wage rate, effective July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.  The minimum wage requirement set forth in the Pasadena Minimum Wage Ordinance applies to adult and minor employees who work two (2) or more hours per week in Pasadena.

Employers must (1) display this poster in the workplace where it can be easily read by employees, and (2) translate its contents into languages spoken by five percent (5%) or more of their ...

Treat ‘em like mushrooms is an expression that is never actually uttered out loud by union organizers, but it’s certainly implied when it comes to organizing a workforce.  Keeping the worker in the dark concerning key facts and the fine print before casting an official vote for or against union representation is something organized labor tries to ensure. In fact, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), unions not only don’t have an obligation to share key information to prospects, they can also lawfully mislead workers and provide them with false ...

A recent case provides a refresher step-by-step guide on the  requirements of a lawfully administered disability accommodation policy under the Missouri Human Right Act.

See some of the latest state updates and posters – Fair Employment, Paid Leave and Minimum Wage Rates

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that is it ending the List B identity document flexibilities it had provided employers since May 2020. Starting on May 1, 2022, employers may ONLY accept UNEXPIRED List B documents.

In the past few years, a law was passed in Illinois that added annual reporting requirements for publicly held companies with their headquarters in Illinois.

Although labor unions have historically not targeted  banks and credit unions for organizing, desperate times call for desperate measures as union membership continues to fall in the United States with only 6.1% of the private sector workforce belonging to a labor organization. While just over 1% of all financial services employees are unionized, there has been an uptick in unionization hitting the financial industry since 2020; with signs of more aggressive action on the part of labor organizations not slowing down. 

Recent Union Organizing of Financial Institutions

Recent ...

On March 14, 2022, Judge Marcia Crone of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ordered that the Trump administration’s rulemaking regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) Independent Contractor Test (specifically Title 29, Part 795 of the Code of Federal Regulations) be reinstated effective March 8, 2021. The court ruled that the Department of Labor’s delay and subsequent withdrawal of the rule was a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).  It is unclear whether the Department of Labor will appeal the Texas court’s decision to the ...

Retaliation remains a top enforcement priority of the federal government. Last week the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new field assistance bulletin entitled “Protecting Workers from Retaliation” and pledged to “use every tool available” to “uphold the rights of workers to identify violations of the law without fear of termination or other threats to their reputation, safety or livelihood.” Making good on its pledge, this week the DOL ordered an Arizona manufacturer to pay nearly $600,000 and reinstate a former employee who claimed retaliation ...

Below are some of the latest state updates and posters –

NEW JERSEY

The State of New Jersey has issued a new Wage and Hour Law Abstract in connection with its amendment of the statutory minimum wage rate. Accordingly, employees are not to be paid less than the state minimum wage schedule provided.

Overtime is payable at a rate of 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. The following employees are exempt from overtime: (i) executive, administrative and professional; (ii) farm workers; and (iii) limousine drivers.

Employees ...

Below are some of the latest state updates and posters –

CALIFORNIA

The State of California has released various information on Covid-19 related paid sick leave for 2022:

  • According to the Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Poster, which became effective on February 19, 2022, covered employees in the public or private sectors who work for employers with at least 26 employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of 2022 COVID-19 related paid sick leave from January 1, 2022 through September 30, 2022. This leave is to be issued immediately upon any form of request to employers, and 40 of ...

President Biden, the self-described “most pro-union president,” is faced with the grim reality that despite his administration’s systematic efforts to boost union membership, union membership has, instead, fallen back to historic lows. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released figures that the rate of union membership, or the percentage of wage and salary workers who were part of a union, dropped to 10.3% in 2021, matching the record low in 2019. Among private-sector workers, the numbers were even worse: union members made up just 6.1% of that workforce, compared to 33.9% of ...

On December 27, 2021, the NLRB entered a formal Notice and Invitation for briefing from the public to aid in its consideration of: (1) overturning the independent-contractor standard established in SuperShuttle DFW, Inc., 367 NLRB No. 75 (2019); and (2) returning to the standard from FedEx Home Delivery, 361 NLRB 610, 611 (2014) either in its entirety or with modifications. 

The notice and invitation come as part of the Board’s review of a finding that certain makeup artists, wig artists, and hairstylists are employees of The Atlanta Opera, Inc. and not independent ...

Court decisions dealing with and interpreting the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act do not occur with great regularity. So when an interesting decision comes down, we feel it is worth reporting on and should be noted by those businesses that are subject to the Act.

The case is Rodriguez v. Simplex Grinnell LP and is from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, decided in August 2021. In that case, the court rejected plaintiffs’ (employees of Simplex Grinnell who worked on public projects in the State of Illinois) argument that testing andor inspecting work ...

Below are some of the latest state updates –

CALIFORNIA

The State of California has updated the following:

  • According to a Notice issued by the Los Angeles Office of Wage Standards on February 1, 2022, the city’s hourly minimum wage will rise from $15.00 to $16.04 as of July 1, 2022.
  1. Supplemental paid sick leave is now provided to covered employees under Senate Bill No. 114.  Such employees must be unable to work, in person or remotely, for reasons related to COVID-19.  The paid sick leave will be retroactive from January 1, 2022 until September 30, 2022.  The same provisions apply to ...

On February 10, 2022, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that prohibits mandatory arbitration for workplace sexual harassment or sexual assault claims. The bill, H.R. 4445, originated in the House, and later passed there on February 7, 2022. The Senate quickly passed the bill by large, bipartisan margins. President Biden has voiced support for the bill and is expected to sign it into law.

H.R. 4445, named the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, prohibits enforcement of contracts that mandate that workplace disputes alleging sexual assault or sexual ...

It depends where you stand. Here are some of the latest updates –

California:  Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill  that restores the expired supplemental paid leave requirements that he signed into law back in March 2021. In a nutshell, beginning February 19 (retroactive to January 1, 2022) and continuing through  September 30, 2022, California employers with more than 25 employees must provide up to two (2) weeks of paid COVID-19 leave to employees who are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19 reasons:

  1. First bank of hours:  An employee can receive up to 40 hours of ...

No employer is immune from staffing storages in today’s climate, but December 2021 unemployment data released this week by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), confirms what Indiana employers have been feeling for a while: it is harder than ever to recruit and retain talent.

According to the report, Indiana had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation in December 2021 at just 1.3% (tied with Utah), significantly lower than the national rate of 3.7%. Indiana also took the top two spots on the national list of metropolitan areas for December 2021 ...

The Illinois Supreme Court forever quashed one of Illinois employers’ last lines of defense to the onslaught of claims brought under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

As we reported on January 29, 2021, the Illinois Supreme Court granted leave to appeal the Illinois Court of Appeals for the First District’s ruling in McDonald v. Symphony Bronzeville Park LLC that held BIPA claims are not the type of injuries falling under the scope of the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) and its exclusivity provisions. Today, the Illinois Supreme Court in a 7-0 ...

Within the last week, the State of Illinois issued two new workplace posters and the District of Columbia issued a revised COVID-19 poster.  The State of Minnesota and the State of Colorado also updated their legislation on pregnancy accommodations and sentencing reform, respectively.

All posters are required postings and must be displayed in the workplace—including, to the extent applicable, employees’ remote workplaces.

ILLINOIS

The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has issued the following posters:

This poster details the ...

Despite the ever increasing concerns over privacy and data breaches, both externally and internally, it may become more difficult for employers to legally protect their confidential and proprietary information. As explained in our November 8, 2021 article, “Employers’ Rights Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) Narrowed after Supreme Court Decision in Van Buren,” the United States Supreme Court significantly narrowed the interpretation of the CFAA and therewith employers’ means of seeking remedies for the misuse of confidential data. In essence, the Court ...

If you’re wondering what to do in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision striking down the OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard mandating COVID-19 vaccination and testing, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, there is no short answer for many employers – it largely depends on your industry, and where you’re located. 

First and foremost, you need to verify that you are not subject to any other COVID-19 vaccination mandates. Employers in the health care industry that fall under the reach of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), for ...

On December 7, 2021, we brought to you the news that U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker in the Southern District of Georgia put a nationwide halt on the federal contractor vaccination mandate. On January 21, 2022 Judge Jeffrey V. Brown of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas agreed with Judge Baker. The judge opined that this case was not about the importance of being vaccinated or not, because the judge agreed it was important that everyone should get vaccinated.  “It is instead about whether the President can, with the stroke of a pen and without the input of ...

As of January 2022, the State of California and the State of Oregon have issued new workplace posters and updated certification forms related to various labor laws. The materials addressed below are mandatory postings for all employers, whether that be in the workplace or provided in employee handbooks. Businesses that fail to comply may be subject to fines or sanctions.

CALIFORNIA

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has issued multiple new posters and certification forms in connection with the expansion of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and ...

Signed into law on October 7, 2021 by California Governor Gavin Newsom and effective January 1, 2022, the “Silenced No More Act” amends and expands the previous Stand Together Against Non-Disclosures (STAND) Act. 

The STAND Act was passed in 2018 in the wake of the #MeToo movement and focused specifically on claims of sexual harassment and discrimination or retaliation based on sex.  The new law goes beyond the STAND Act’s focus on sex discrimination and harassment, and expands its protections to any characteristic protected under California law. For example, this would ...

On January 14, CMS issued guidance regarding when the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers will be enforced in the 24 states affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling issued the previous day. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

By February 15, 2022, covered facilities must demonstrate that:

  • Policies and procedures are developed and ...

President Biden announced on January 10th that the Biden-Harris Administration is requiring insurance companies and group health plans to cover the cost of over-the-counter (OTC), at-home COVID-19 tests. Beginning January 15, 2022, individuals with private health insurance coverage or covered by a group health plan who purchase an over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized, cleared, or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be able to have those test costs covered by their plan or insurance. Insurance companies and health plans are ...

Ending months of uncertainty, today the Supreme Court issued its decision allowing CMS to enforce its vaccine mandate for health care workers. The Court’s decision stays the injunctions entered by federal courts in Missouri and Louisiana. CMS may now enforce the rule nationwide. Before today’s decision, the CMS rule could only be enforced in 26 states. 

As a refresher on what the CMS rule requires, see our previous summary of the rule. Further guidance should be issued by CMS before compliance is required. We will continue to keep you updated.

In another opinion issued ...

In a 6-3 decision just released, the Supreme Court blocked OSHA’s Emergency COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Standard (“ETS”) from taking effect, which required employers with one hundred or more employees to conduct weekly testing of all unvaccinated employees, amongst other things. 

While procedurally, the ruling merely reinstituted the stay of the ETS, the ruling signaled the final outcome for the ETS, finding more broadly that the ETS went beyond OSHA’s authority. The Court stated: “[a]lthough Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate ...

On January 6, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) detailing the agencies’ most recent pact to enforce federal labor and employment laws.

The partnership intends to ensure that workers receive proper wages and are able to take collective action to improve working conditions without fear of retaliation. The MOU outlines several procedures on information-sharing, joint investigations and enforcement activity, and training meant to strengthen the agencies’ ...

With the New Year upon us, it is time to begin the initial H-1B process for any interested companies or organizations with foreign workers. Now is the time to see if anyone will need assistance with an H-1B petition. 

In 2019, USCIS implemented a new electronic registration system for employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for foreign national employees. Last year, the registration period for foreign nationals ran from March 9 to March 25, 2021. We anticipate a similar timeframe this year. Once the registration period is over, the US Citizenship and Immigration ...

On December 17, 2021, in a 2-1 decision, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the stay of OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) previously ordered by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Therefore, OSHA’s ETS mandating workplace vaccination and testing on all private employers with 100 or more employees is back on. While the 6th Circuit did not address timing issues, the day after the decision was released, OSHA announced that it will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before January 10, 2022 and will not issue citations for ...

In the ongoing saga of the federal government’s attempts to impose vaccine mandates on certain sectors, on Wednesday, December 15, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concluded that the nationwide injunction issued by a Louisiana District Court was overbroad and could only apply to the 14 states that were plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The court stayed the injunction for the 26 states that were not parties to the lawsuit before it or covered by the 10-state injunction issued by the Eastern District of Missouri on November 29. Therefore, the CMS vaccine ...

If you have frequented the Amundsen Davis Labor & Employment Blog, you may recall that we previously reported on one of the very first actions taken by Governor Pritzker immediately following his inauguration in January 2019. Gov. Pritzker signed into law additional amendments to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (IPWA). Amongst the changes made to one of the most onerous prevailing wage laws in the United States, was a new mandate that required all contractors to submit their monthly certified transcript of payroll via the Illinois Department of Labor’s (IDOL) electronic ...

In September President Biden’s Executive Order 14042 was blessed by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force requiring certain federal contractors to have all of their contract and related workers vaccinated against COVID-19 by the new deadline date of January 4, 2022 (it was previously set for December 8, 2021 but with the OSHA and CMS mandates, the federal contractors’ date was extended). Just like President Biden’s Orders to get both health care workers and employees who work for companies with 100 or more employees vaccinated, the federal contractor vaccination ...

On Tuesday, November 30, Louisiana federal district Judge Doughty issued a nationwide injunction against implementation of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) vaccine mandate for health care workers. Judge Doughty’s decision was issued just a day after Missouri federal district Judge Schelp issued a preliminary injunction against the mandate in 10 states. Unlike the Missouri decision, the Louisiana court issued a nationwide injunction due to that court’s conclusion that there was a need for uniformity and protection of unvaccinated health care ...

With the help of the US Department of Labor (DOL), the Biden Administration made good on its promise to increase the minimum wage for workers who work on new or updated federal contracts (including extended, renewed, or exercise of an option on an existing contract). The President’s full Executive Order may be found on the White House website.

This was carried out by the DOL on November 22, 2021 with its Final Rule requiring that such workers’ minimum pay will now be $15.00 an hour starting January 30, 2022. Keep in mind if your local or state minimum wage is more, you have to pay the ...

In the past several months there has been a flurry of Executive Orders and other legally binding rules regarding vaccine mandates. Standing first and above the rest are the Executive Order by the Biden Administration mandating federal contractors have a vaccinated workforce without the option for testing (we previously blogged on this topic on September 13, 2021 and on September 27, 2021), and the imminent Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to be issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

In the wake of those federal mandates many states have ...

In September, the Biden Administration directed OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) requiring employers with one hundred or more employees to ensure their employees are either fully vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.  That promised ETS was published on November 5, 2021, and linked here are OSHA’s summary of the ETS and the FAQ’s relating to the ETS.   

One week later, on November 12, 2021, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issuing a scathing opinion staying the enforcement of the ETS.  In the week that followed, legal challenges were ...

In December 2018, I got an unpleasant surprise: My first – and only – H-1B petition denial in my over 20+ years of practicing immigration law.

The petition was on behalf of an operations research analyst. I had done the same petition for other operations research analysts at this company. USCIS had approved them all, some all the way to green cards.

In this case I prepped the client, submitted a thorough petition, and responded to all requests for evidence. Unfortunately, this unpleasant surprise was not a shock. USCIS’s scrutiny had intensified and as many thought it was ...

Today the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its interim final rule requiring all employees and certain suppliers of most Medicare and Medicaid certified providers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they receive an exemption due to a disability, medical condition or sincerely held religious belief (the “Rule”) (the text of the regulations starts on page 171 of the CMS publication). The Rule is effective upon official publication, which is targeted as November 5.

Covered Health Care Entities

The Rule applies to the following types of CMS ...

The United States Department of Labor released a long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) for private employers with over 100 employees. The 490 page interim final rule answers a number of questions employers have had since the Biden Administration announced its plan in September, including:

What is the application to employers?

The ETS applies to employers with 100 or more employees as of November 5, 2021, regardless of the number of employees working at a specific location. The ETS does not, however, apply to employers covered by the CMS rule or federal ...

The executive compensation clawback rule mandated by Congress in Section 954 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), is back.  In the event of corporate misconduct, it will enable the SEC to recoup executive compensation (i.e., bonuses or other incentive-based pay), regardless of whether the executive was directly involved in or accused of any wrongdoing.

Section 954 of the Dodd-Frank Act

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed an initial draft of Section 954 in 2015. Under Section 954, the SEC was to issue rules ...

On October 29, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor published its final rule regarding tipped employees with dual jobs (i.e., employees who perform both tipped and non-tipped work), rejecting the Trump-era approach to determining when tipped employees may be paid subminimum wages. The final rule reinstates the dreaded “80/20” rule that employers with tipped employees are likely familiar with, and adds a new “substantial amount of time” component to the determination. If you are an employer covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, listen up!

The 80/20 Rule

Under the ...

As many employers begin implementing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, they are receiving a large number of employee requests for exemption from the vaccine for religious reasons. Before this week there was no direct guidance from the EEOC on this point, but that changed when the EEOC added this topic to its COVID-19 guidance. The following summarizes key points from that guidance.

An employer should assume that a request for religious accommodation is based on sincerely held religious beliefs. However, the employer may ask for an explanation of how the employee’s religious belief ...

Good, bad or otherwise… no matter your own personal or professional viewpoint, the fact is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is poised to usher in new reforms and implement pro-labor priorities with the intent of reversing the modern-day trend of unions losing members in the private sector and penalizing employers under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) who attempt to push back against labor unions and related union organizing.  While Big Labor continues to push the PRO-Act in Washington, D.C., there are many changes being implemented at the NLRB by recently ...

As discussed in our September 9, 2021 blog, the Biden administration has directed OSHA to implement an Emergency Temporary Standard that will require employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are either fully vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19. While employers anxiously await OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard and guidance on who it applies to and what it entails, federal courts are upholding vaccine mandates that employers have chosen to voluntarily implement.

In August, New York City announced it was implementing a vaccine mandate requiring ...

As soon as the Biden administration announced it would ease travel restrictions in early November, my phone began ringing non-stop and email notifications started pinging like popcorn. If you work in Human Resources, you may know what I mean because it is likely your phone and email were ringing first.

HR clients were sending the messages on behalf of their foreign national workers and students who were asking if they could travel. Questions like “Can I go home for Christmas?” and “Is it safe to travel home in late November?”

Unfortunately, while the easing of restrictions is ...

In an aggressive effort to pressure employers into complying with the Biden Administration’s promised vaccine mandate, House Democrats buried an approximate five-fold increase to OSHA fines in their $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, seeking to increase the maximum fines for a “serious” citations from $13,653 to $70,000 and for “repeat” and “willful” citations from $136,530 to $700,000. The incredible fine increase stems from OSHA’s concern that employers are ignoring its COVID-19 guidance and standards because the risk of non-compliance is ...

Employers with tipped employees, take note: the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its long-awaited final rule on tip regulations, which was officially published on September 24 and becomes effective November 23, 2021. The final rule makes a number of changes that will impact tipped employees and their employers, including:

Civil Money Penalties

The DOL may assess a penalty  up to $1,100 per violation against employers who take tips earned by their employees – regardless of whether the violations are repeated or willful. This means a penalty could be assessed on an ...

On September 24, 2021, as instructed by President Biden’s Executive Order 14042, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”) published its COVID-⁠19 Workplace Safety for Federal Contractors Guidance. We first updated you on this Executive Order in our blog published on September 13: Who is a Federal Contractor for Purposes of the Biden Vaccine Mandate? But does the Task Force’s new guidance actually assist us in determining what federal contractors are covered under the Executive Order? Unfortunately, certainty as to who is covered by the Executive ...

As a part of Missouri’s new Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA), employers in the state with at least 20 employees must now provide unpaid leave to employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence, or who have family or household members who are victims of the same.  Effective August 28, 2021, all covered employers are required to notify employees of their right to unpaid leave under the law by or before October 27, 2021.  The Missouri Department of Labor has published a poster which, if prominently posted, will meet this requirement. 

The new mandate is ...

Last week, the EEOC filed a federal lawsuit in Georgia against an employer that did not allow an employee with a medical condition to work from home.  Employers should carefully consider the circumstances at issue in this lawsuit when evaluating work-from-home accommodation requests as we anticipate litigation of this sort will arise more frequently in the coming months.

The employee at issue (“Moncrief”) worked as a Health Safety & Environmental Quality Manager at a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.  She has a number of physical impairments, including chronic ...

On August 23rd Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2021-20 requiring  health care workers, school personnel, higher education personnel and students, and state-employees and contractors who work at state-owned or operated congregate facilities to get their first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series, or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, within 10 days and be fully vaccinated within 30 days, subject to applicable medical and religious exemptions under federal and state law.

On September 9, 2021 President Biden announced sweeping new vaccine mandates for federal employees, federal contractors, and an upcoming OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard Rule for companies with more than 100 employees.

The recent announcement that Delta Airlines will begin imposing a $200 per month health insurance surcharge on unvaccinated employees has prompted many employers to consider whether a similar surcharge may be an alternative to mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for employees.

Now that the Delta variant is surging, employers are venturing into the arena of mandating that their employees take the COVID-19 vaccine. But deciding to mandate vaccination and actually implementing such a requirement is no easy feat.

Wisconsin employers discounting the possibility of organizing campaigns and unionization in their workplace.

On August 13, 2021, the Illinois Second District Appellate Court upheld the Illinois Human Rights Commission’s determination that Hobby Lobby violated the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) by refusing to allow a transgender employee to use the restroom that matched her gender identity and awarded $220,000 in emotional distress damages against Hobby Lobby.

The Fight for Restroom Rights – Illinois Courts Follow National Trend in Prohibiting Sex Discrimination of Transgender Employees and Requiring Equal Access to Bathrooms

President Biden announced recently that those suffering “Post-Acute Sequelae of Sars-Cov-2 Infection,” aka long haul COVID-19, may qualify for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Our understanding of the aftereffects of COVID-19 continue to evolve. The CDC currently lists the most common post-COVID symptoms on their website. These symptoms include:

  • Dyspnea or increased respiratory effort
  • Fatigue
  • Post-exertional malaise andor poor endurance “Brain fog,” or cognitive impairment
  • Cough
  • Chest ...

The short answer is, private sector employers can very likely terminate the employee.  If the employee is at-will, they can be fired for any non-discriminatory reason (or no reason at all); and, intentionally using the wrong name or pronoun to refer to a coworker is certainly a non-discriminatory reason.  Even if the employee has “for cause” protection through an employment contract, there’s a pretty good chance that intentionally misgendering their coworker is sufficient cause to terminate, especially if they’ve been previously warned about similar behavior.

The issue ...

“This” is a no-call/no-show policy, the terms of which are generally something like:  “An employee who is absent from work for three consecutive days without giving proper notice to the Company will be considered to have voluntarily abandoned their position and resigned from employment with the Company.”  

A recent Michigan state appellate court decision illustrates one reason why employers should have a no-call/no-show policy disseminated to all employees. In that case, an employee who was terminated after being absent for three consecutive days without calling-in to ...

Employers who require employees to undergo mandatory security checks, health screenings, or similar pre- or post-shift activities take note:  a growing number of courts have determined time spent waiting to undergo and actually undergoing the check or screening may be compensable under state law. 

The most recent example is the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which concluded that the time Amazon employees spent on their employer’s premises “waiting to undergo, and undergoing, mandatory security screening” was compensable time under state law.  That “state law” ...

On July 23, 2021, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule to increase the minimum wage for employees of covered federal contractors and subcontractors to $15.00 per hour. This rule follows President Biden’s Executive Order calling for an increase to the minimum wage for federal contractors. The rule suggests that the minimum wage increase go into effect January 30, 2022 and increase annually beginning in 2023 based on inflation. 

The Proposed Rule is not final and may be revised. The DOL is accepting comments until August 21, 2021 and will publish its ...

Just when we were starting to let loose and enjoy the summer without masks, as a result of rising number of COVID-19 cases and the Delta variant, the CDC revised their guidance for fully vaccinated individuals on July 27, 2021 with the following changes:

  • Fully vaccinated individuals are recommended to wear masks when indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive ...

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled 3-1 on July 21, 2021 that labor unions may continue to use large, inflatable balloons–usually in the shape of an ugly rat–to aid in publicity of labor disputes, whether connected with traditional picketing activity or without.  The inflatable rat balloon used by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 has been nicknamed “Scabby.”  Scabby was the subject of the NLRB’s ruling.  In that case, Local 150 erected Scabby and banners at the entrance to the parking lot at an RV tradeshow.  The rat and signage identified ...

On June 15, 2021, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance on “Protections Against Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.”  This resource reviews the impact of the Supreme Court’s Bostock v. Clayton County case and provides the EEOC’s position on what constitutes unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The EEOC’s answers to key questions on this issue are summarized below. 

Does Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination extend to treatment based on ...

On June 25, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed into law additional amendments to the IL Equal Pay Act of 2003. 

March 2021 Amendments (Recap)

As outlined in our March 23, 2021 blog article, Will Employers Have to Give 1% of their Total Gross Profits to the State of Illinois? Gov. Pritzker Signs into Law Unprecedented Changes to IL Equal Pay and Corporate Laws, the March amendments to the Act require businesses with 100 or more employees to obtain certification of compliance with the Equal Pay Act from the IL Department of Labor (IDOL).

The certification process requires employers to ...

It’s that time of year (again) for increases in minimum wage. However, this year is slightly different! In spite of the Cook County written notices that some employers may have received, the Cook County Minimum Wage for non-tipped employees is NOT increasing, as the unemployment rate for Cook County during the prior year was greater than 8.5%. However, the Cook County Minimum wage for tipped employees will increase on July 1st  from $6.00 to $6.60 to match the increase under Illinois law. For City of Chicago employers, the minimum wage for both tipped and non-tipped ...

On June 21, 2021, the US Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it has proposed new rulemaking, and is seeking input on significant limits to an employer’s ability to utilize the tip credit. 

Under the current law, the Fair Labor Standards Act and many state laws allow employers to pay employees in tipped positions a lower cash wage, and take a credit against the tips earned by the employee to make up the balance for the applicable minimum wage.  The proposed changes impact when the tip credit is applicable.

The proposed rule places the work that a tipped employee performs into three ...

On June 10, 2021 OSHA issued its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for the health care industry, along with general guidance for all other employers, which we already touched on in a previous post. However, there remains a lot to unpack, as there are many unanswered questions, especially for the health care field.  Below we dig a bit deeper into the ETS and its practical implications for health care providers.

Are you covered? The first question—and it is not as clear cut as it may seem—is whether the ETS applies to your business. OSHA has issued a flowchart to ...

Employers of all sizes and industries, operating anywhere in the U.S., need to conduct HR Audits regularly. In 2021 and beyond, it is critical to carefully evaluate all aspects of how to properly and lawfully administer and manage personnel issues. Workplace laws, rules and regulations are constantly changing – what was lawful yesterday may be unlawful tomorrow. Annual HR Audits conducted by those with intimate knowledge and understanding of the latest legal developments, including enforcement, must be part of any employer’s regular processes.

Amundsen Davis’s ...

A federal judge in Texas on June 12, 2021 dismissed a lawsuit brought by Texas health care workers challenging their hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The scathing opinion by U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes left no doubt that he believed the claims of the 117 plaintiffs were without merit.

The lawsuit was brought by employees of Houston Methodist Hospital, who had refused the vaccine, after the hospital in April announced a policy requiring  vaccination of all employees.  In early June, over 170 employees of the hospital were suspended for two weeks without pay over their ...

As reported in prior blogs, the Illinois legislature for several months has been considering amendments to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act that apply to non-compete and non-solicitation restrictions. Amundsen Davis attorneys worked closely with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to protect the interests of employers as much as possible during the legislative process. 

The legislature has now passed SB672. It is generally viewed as a compromise between employer and employee interest groups. It is not a ban on restrictive covenants, but it does impose important limits on them.

On June 10, OSHA issued its long-promised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).  Surprisingly, the ETS relates only to the health care industry, but updated guidance has been issued for all other industries, as outlined below:
 
Non-Health Care Industries: For non-health care industries, including manufacturing and construction, OSHA only intends to continue issue guidance relating to COVID-19, including updated guidance on complying with the CDC’s latest recommendations. Notably, the updated guidance exempts fully vaccinated workers from wearing ...

Effective May 25, 2021, the State of Nevada enacted amendments to the Nevada Unfair Trade Practice Act that address non-compete agreements. Prior to the new amendments, Nevada law provided that a non-competition covenant is deemed void and unenforceable unless: it is supported by valuable consideration, it does not impose any restraint that is greater than required for the protection of the employer, it does not impose any undue hardship on the employee, and it imposes restrictions that are appropriate in relation to the valuable consideration supporting the non-competition ...

On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance regarding employers offering incentives for employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The updated guidance also clarifies issues related to whether employers can mandate that employees be vaccinated before entering the workplace.

Interestingly, the EEOC’s guidance on vaccine incentives is broken into two parts: (1) incentives for employees voluntarily providing proof that they received a vaccination on their own, and (2) incentives for employees who voluntarily receive a ...

With the upcoming Memorial Day holiday offering an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifice made by military families, it seemed a fitting time to revisit the legal nuances of providing preference in hiring veterans with disabilities. Veterans report high instances of service-connected disabilities, including blindness, deafness, missing limbs, major depressive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Some laws require employers to provide preference to disabled veterans. Some employers voluntarily create affirmative action programs for ...

Over the past several years, the State of Oregon has enacted significant statutory limits on non-compete agreements. Under ORS 653.295, as in effect until recently, a non-compete was “voidable and [could] not be enforced by a court of this state” unless:

  • The employer advised the employee in a written employment offer at least two weeks before the first day of employment that a non-competition agreement is required, or the non-competition agreement is executed upon the employee’s bona fide advancement;
  • The employee is exempt from Oregon minimum wage and overtime law;
  • The ...

***On May 17, 2021, OSHA updated its web page regarding “Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” to state the following:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance relating to recommended precautions for people who are fully vaccinated, which is applicable to activities outside of health care and a few other environments. OSHA is reviewing the recent CDC guidance and will update our materials on this website accordingly. Until those updates are complete, please refer to the CDC ...

On May 13, 2021, the CDC issued new guidance stating that those who are fully vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or social distancing. Following the CDC’s announcement, President Biden lifted the mask mandate that was required by staff and visitors of the White House.  

While the CDC has issued this guidance, a patchwork of state and local policies or rules are popping up making clear that we are not going to be mask free quite yet. More importantly, the CDC’s announcement contained a big “EXCEPTION” by stating “except where required by federal, state ...

Historically, a majority of states have allowed employers to use restrictive covenants with physicians—and only a handful of states (among them: Delaware, Massachusetts, and Rhode island) have prohibited that practice in whole or in part. However, as discussed in recent blogs, the current trend is for state legislatures to pass new laws that regulate and limit non-compete agreements, often as they relate to lower wage employees or employees below certain income thresholds.

Now, in what may be a harbinger of future legislative efforts to regulate restrictive covenants in the ...

Contractors beware – the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has ramped up audits of contractors as labor unions and related organizations flood the IDOL with “complaints. Remember, under the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (IPWA), a prevailing wage “complaint” need not be verified or even submitted to the IDOL under penalty of perjury. The IDOL will investigate each and every “complaint” regardless of merit and, while historically the main focus of the IDOL was to ensure proper and full payment of the actual prevailing wage, it is now seeking to issue violations and debar ...

In the typical non-compete lawsuit, an employer seeks to block the defendant, often an ex-sales representative, from calling on or doing business with the company’s clients. However, in some cases, the defendant succeeds in taking some business, thereby raising the issue of monetary damages.  So, how are damages calculated in a non-compete case? 

In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois addressed this issue. In Zurich American Ins. Co. v. Hill, the defendant insurance salesman admitted that he improperly did business with a certain ...

For the past several years, we have periodically reported regarding the proliferation of class actions and other litigation under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Under BIPA, entities may not “collect, capture, purchase, receive through trade or otherwise obtain” or store a person’s biometric information without informing an individual in writing about the collection or storage of said information. Entities collecting biometric information must also specify the purpose for its collection and storage and how long it will be kept. Finally ...

The Illinois General Assembly is considering a bill (H.B. 117) that would make several amendments to the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act, including extending the requirement to offer employees a retirement savings plan to employers with 5 to 24 employees. H.B. 117 was passed by the Illinois House of Representatives earlier this month and is currently pending in the Illinois Senate.

Currently, Illinois employers that have 25 or more employees and have been in business at least two years are required to participate in the state-run Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program ...

COVID-19 Pandemic Allows Unions to Make Inroads with Health Care Workers

For health care workers, the issues of staffing, wages and benefits are typically what unions have focused on in their organizing campaigns. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, these issues are heightened with the added urgency of worker safety. The realities created by the pandemic have and will likely continue to make their impact on health care workers – even prompting some who never may have considered union representation – to reconsider their position. For example, in ...

As we previously discussed, Illinois has moved beyond “ban-the-box” and now significantly restricts employers’ ability to consider criminal convictions when making employment decisions. (For more details see our employer’s guide and join our complimentary webcast on April 29, 2021.)

Illinois is not an outlier. Several states have enacted or are considering similar legislation. Below is a short summary of these state laws applicable to private employers. All of these statutes have exceptions. Note too, the fact that a state is not listed does not necessarily ...

In recent years, many states have enacted legislation directed at employment contracts containing non-compete and non-solicitation clauses. Illinois first did so in 2016 with the Freedom to Work Act (the Act), which bans certain Illinois employers from entering into non-compete agreements with low-wage employees.

Now, the Illinois General Assembly has taken the matter up again with additional proposed amendments to the Act.

Although the new legislation has not been finalized, some provisions that appear likely to be included in the final version are: income thresholds for ...

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) EEO-1 Component 1 Online Filing System is set to open on Monday, April 26, 2021. Private employers with at least 100 employees, and federal contractors with at least 50 employees and a contract worth $50,000 or more, must file their EEO-1 data for years 2019 (previously postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and 2020, by Monday, July 19, 2021. Employers will be required to first file for 2019, then file for 2020 – after the 2019 report is submitted and certified.

As a reminder, EEO-1 reports require data from a ...

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, included a COBRA Subsidy covering 100% of COBRA premiums for “Assistance Eligible Individuals” during the period of April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.  The 100% premium subsidy will be reimbursed to employers through their quarterly payroll tax returns. 

Pursuant to ARPA, employers are required to notify certain individuals about potential eligibility and details of the subsidy by May 31, 2021. Individuals then have 60-days to elect.  And although Notice 2021-01 described ...

The short answer is: Be careful what you wish for!  During this COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinations have been at the front of everyone’s mind. Now, with the mass rollout of vaccinations across the country, employers’ main questions have been: i) Can we mandate vaccinations for our workforce or, alternatively, ii) can we ask employees whether they have been vaccinated or not (and to show proof of vaccination)? Our Labor & Employment blog has been at the forefront for the first question and provides more information on COVID-19 vaccination developments and what legal risks come ...

Big Labor continues to use local, state and federal prevailing wage laws to target contractors they have a “beef” with.  Since most prevailing wage audits are triggered by a complaint (including 3rd party complaints), trade unions and certain union-friendly organizations can easily turn in a contractor with the general assertion that the contractor is not complying with applicable prevailing wage law. While contractors and merit shop trade associations could do likewise, they typically don’t for obvious business reasons.  Having concentrated my practice on ...

As we previously blogged about, the Illinois legislature passed Senate Bill 1480, which, in relevant part, provides that unless otherwise authorized by law, an employer may only consider an individual’s criminal conviction history if there is a substantial relationship between the criminal history and the position sought or held, or if the employer can show that the individual’s employment raises an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public. Governor Pritzker has now signed the bill into law – which went into ...

Private employers in Illinois now have more landmines to navigate as the state’s legislature pushed through SB1480 during its most recent “lame duck” session.  Gov. Pritzker just signed the legislation into law today!  While there are many substantive provisions and amendments to various laws contained in SB1480 (including new restrictions on the use of criminal convictions as we blogged about previously), the law also amends the Illinois Business Corporation Act (IBCA) and the Illinois Equal Pay Act (IEPA); resulting in unprecedented compulsory reporting of race ...

As the 2021 construction season gets underway, and with an increasing number of construction projects being completed with a mix of union and non-union subcontractors, many workers have legitimate questions about their rights and responsibilities on such mixed-staffed projects. These questions especially can arise when a “dual-gate” system has been established (creating a “neutral” gate for union contractors and a separate, “reserved” gate for non-union contractors), or when a union is involved in different types of activities at the jobsite, such as ...

Commercial air pilot and Air Force reservist Eric White filed a class action against United Airlines under the United Services Employee and Reemployment Right Act (USERRA) claiming United violated USERRA by not providing paid military leave to the same extent as other paid leave. The district court dismissed White’s lawsuit, but last month the 7th Circuit ruled that paid leave falls within the definition of “rights and benefits” employees are entitled to pursuant to USERRA. The case has been sent back to district court.

Generally, USERRA provides that any person who is ...

Almost one year after the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), and with the second extension of pandemic unemployment assistance about to expire for millions of workers on March 14, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “Act”) was signed into law by President Biden on Thursday afternoon, March 11, 2021. 

The estimated cost of the Act is $1.9 Trillion, with $1,400 Recovery Rebate checks for each qualifying individual, the extension of supplemental unemployment benefits through September 6, 2021, as well as billions in ...

n a previous blog article, we alerted readers to the extension of deadlines related to COBRA, Special Enrollment, Plan Disclosures and more. The prior Joint Notice from the DOL and IRS provided suspension of all deadlines until 60 days after the expiration of the National Emergency, referred to as the “Outbreak Period.”

The issue requiring clarification arose due to the unanticipated length of the Outbreak Period.  Much like all of us, the IRS and DOL did not foresee an Outbreak Period continuing well over a year later.  As the one-year anniversary of the Outbreak Period ...

Given the “new normal” of remote work for many employees throughout the country, the question as to whether to allow an employee to work in another state – either permanently or temporarily – has become something employers are now scrambling to answer.  However, it is not as simple as determining whether the employee can do the work remotely, there are numerous considerations and implications employers should be aware of if they have employees working in a different state than the location of their main operations. 

First, employers should have clear guidelines and policies ...

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are starting to roll out, employees who have been vaccinated are beginning to question whether they are still required to wear face masks, practice social distancing, etc.  In short, yes they are – according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with numerous state agencies, “it is important to wear a face covering and remain physically distant from co-workers and customers even if you have been vaccinated because it is not known at this time how vaccination affects transmissibility.”

So, the same workplace protocols ...

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently published final regulations implementing changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) to Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code (Section 162(m)) expanding the scope of Section 162(m)’s compensation tax deduction limitation. Publicly held companies that already exceed or that may soon exceed the Section 162(m) $1 million deduction limit will need to carefully consider the impact of amended Section 162(m).

Section 162(m) generally disallows a tax deduction for compensation paid in excess of $1 million in any taxable ...

With H-1B season upon us, it is time to review the visa status expirations for foreign national employees. There may be some who will need to change visa status to H-1B for continued employment with your company. For example, an F-1 international student who is employed based on his/her optional practical training may need H-1B sponsorship. Now is the time to see if anyone will need assistance with an H-1B petition. 

As you know, last year USCIS implemented a new electronic registration system for employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for their foreign national ...

On February 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced three new categories of individuals eligible to collect federally-funded unemployment benefits as the COVID-19 Pandemic continues.  They are:

  • Individuals who refuse to return to work that is unsafe or to accept an offer of new work that is unsafe;
  • Certain individuals providing services to educational institutions or educational services agencies; and
  • Individuals experiencing a reduction of hours or a temporary or permanent lay-off.

These changes are expected to take effect in late March, but could take longer to ...

Contractors, developers, architects, owners, project managers and even public bodies often ask the same obvious question when dealing with any type of prevailing wage ordinance or law, “what are my obligations?”  While everyone involved in public construction projects want to comply with prevailing wage mandates, more often than not those involved in such projects are either oblivious to their responsibilities or are mistaken in their belief as to such responsibilities. This is not surprising in light of the great variance in prevailing wage laws, related rules and ...

A question that employers often ask when someone in the workplace reports COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test is, who is the employer required to notify? Typically common sense and CDC guidelines have been that employers must engage in contact tracing and notify individuals who were in “close contact” with the person. In recent months and weeks, local and state departments of public health have continued to issue guidance, and mandates, that employers must also identify and observe and sometimes try to interpret despite conflicting statements.

For example, in December 2020 ...

In follow up to our previous blog, the March 31, 2021 deadline is quickly approaching for employers to provide their California Pay Data Report to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Required reporting applies to private employers who meet the following three (3) requirements: (1) 100 or more total employees, (2) required to file a federal EEO-1 report and (3) at least 1 employee in California. 

DFEH recently updated its FAQ’s related to the California EEO reporting requirements.  The FAQ’s, along with DFEH’s User Guide, make it clear that ...

Congress is turning its attention to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package, which is called the American Rescue Plan.  Because the package includes enhanced unemployment benefits that are currently set to lapse in mid-March, Congress is under pressure to take action by then.

The following aspects of the proposal have a specific impact on employers:

  • Restoration and expansion of emergency paid leave
    • President Biden has proposed reinstating and expanding the paid sick and family leave benefits passed as part of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act ...

Illinois has long limited employers from considering the criminal history of an applicant or employee in making employment decisions. The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits employers from considering an employee’s arrest history, for example. In recent years, Illinois’ “Ban the Box” law disallows employers from asking about criminal convictions prior to a job offer or before a candidate is selected for an interview and, therefore, assumed to be otherwise qualified for the position in question. Now, Illinois is poised to go a step further in banning the use of criminal ...

In response to an executive order signed by President Biden, OSHA recently issued updated COVID-19 guidance recommending that all employers adopt a formal COVID-19 prevention plan, incorporating the following activities and elements:

  • Conducting a hazard assessment relating to COVID-19 exposure;
  • Identifying control measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 (such as distancing, masks, barriers, work-from-home, staggered shifts, etc.);
  • Adopting policies that encourage sick workers to stay home and not come into work;
  • Communicating and training employees on the ...

The mis-named Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) was reintroduced in the U.S. Congress on February 4, 2021. The PRO Act, which originally was introduced in 2019 and passed the House of Representatives in 2020, would completely change the landscape in the labor-relations world. You may recall that our recent blog post advised that reintroduction of the PRO Act likely was a priority of the Biden Administration and the revamped U.S. Congress.

Billed by Democrats as legislation to support workers’ rights, the PRO Act is less worker-friendly than Union-friendly. If ...

Last November I mentioned that the Trump Administration enacted over 400 immigration policy changes during its tenure. The changes added burdens to visa petitions, delayed processing, and made life more challenging for everyone in the immigration community.

Executive Order Highlights

President Biden signed a slew of prepared executive orders when he took office. Some of the orders that affect the immigrant community include:

  • the preservation and plans to “fortify” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program;
  • cessation of border wall construction; and
  • a ...

2020 was certainly a unique year for employers and employees. This includes complications with wage reporting. 

Most employers have issued wage reports to their employees by the January 31st deadline and prior to the publication of this alert. These employers must now determine whether they are required to issue corrected Form W-2s.

Thanks to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (which required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick and family leave for certain COVID-related reasons) certain employees received paid sick leave when unable to ...

Back in October 2020, we reported on the McDonald v. Symphony Bronzeville Park LLC decision,where the Illinois Court of Appeals for the First District ruled that the state Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) and its exclusivity provisions do not bar claims for statutory damages under BIPA. The decision found that while the WCA provides remedies to workers that have sustained an actual injury, BIPA provides statutory, liquidated damages to employees who allege privacy right violations even when there is no injury and as a result, employees could continue to pursue BIPA ...

After the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that it had extended its ACT Mediation pilot program, the EEOC reversed course yesterday and abruptly concluded pilot programs relating to the EEOC’s conciliation and mediation efforts.  The ACT Mediation pilot, which launched on July 6, 2020, expanded the categories of charges eligible for mediation, generally allowed for mediation to take place throughout an investigative process (rather than only before the investigation begins as is traditionally the case outside the pilot), and expanded ...

On the last day of 2020, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter impacting employers using telework arrangements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  While a vaccine is now rolling out and we will hopefully get the pandemic under control in 2021, this opinion letter provides guidance to employers that have had to institute remote and hybrid work policies and/or arrangements with their workforce. 

Specifically, the opinion letter addressed two general scenarios: 

  1. Employee has a parent-teacher conference in the middle of the day and works from the office, attends the ...

They say that the only constant in life is change.  Here is a quick overview of the shift that we expect to see in the realm of labor and employment after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.  

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

The NLRB is expected to have a Democratic majority as early as August 2021.  The five-member Board currently has three Republican members, one Democrat, and one vacancy.  The expectation is that the Biden administration will move quickly to fill the vacancy.  In addition, the term of William Emmanuel, a Trump appointee, will expire in August 2021 – opening the ...

A Wisconsin state court recently issued a helpful reminder to employers operating in Wisconsin – and employers with employees working outside of their home state:  always check local and state conviction records laws before using them in making any employment-related decision.

In Cree, Inc. v. LIRC, the employer rescinded a job offer to Derrick Palmer after discovering that he had multiple convictions for “domestic incidents,” including “2012 convictions for strangulation/suffocation, fourth-degree sexual assault, battery, and criminal damage to property ...

On December 22 the Federal Department of Labor (DOL) published a Final Rule changing the FLSA regulations for tipped employees. The Final Rule takes effect 60 days after publication. A caveat before we dig into the Final Rule; the change affects only federal law. As with all things wage-and-hour-related, many states, and some local governments, enforce more stringent requirements. Some jurisdictions prohibit tip credits entirely. This post focuses on the federal standard only. Employers must adhere to the requirements applicable to their particular business in each ...

A $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress late last night is expected to be signed into law by President Trump later today. In addition to an assortment of aid for individuals and businesses, the bill extends several provisions of the CARES Act passed in March, including the tax credit for employers providing paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). However, the bill does not extend the mandate for employers to provide paid leave, set to expire December 31, 2020.

What Does This Mean?

Employers are not required to provide paid sick leave or paid ...

While it has not yet been fully passed and enacted into law, the full text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 was released days ago and announced as having bipartisan support. Within the over 5,500-page Act, are several provisions designed to assist smaller businesses and those hardest hit by the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. As is common with legislation, the Act essentially presents only an outline of Congress’ intent and leaves relevant agencies to fill in the details of that outline. Pursuant to mandates in the Act, most agencies, such as the ...

In follow-up to our previous blog regarding mandating the COVID-19 vaccine in the workplace, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has now issued guidance addressing that very issue. According to the guidance, employers may ask employees if they have had the COVID-19 vaccine and require the vaccine pursuant to U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or other federal or state guidelines. However, any mandates must allow exemptions for employees who are unable to receive the vaccine due to disability or a sincerely held religious belief or practice.

The key ...

On November 17, 2020, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) proposed an update to its Compliance Manual’s section on Religious Discrimination. The proposed Manual is open for public comment until December 17, 2020, after which the EEOC will take those comments into consideration before publishing the finalized updated Compliance Manual. The EEOC Compliance Manual is not binding and has no force of law. Nonetheless, employers should take note of the Manual as it provides insight on how the EEOC may consider charges alleging religious discrimination claims in the future, as ...

The California Occupational Health & Safety Standards Board adopted rules implementing Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) that went into effect on November 30, 2020. The ETS regulations apply to all employers, employees, and to all places of employment except the following:

  • Workplaces where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people
  • Remote employees
  • Employees covered by California’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation

In an effort to assist all impacted by the ETS regulations, California’s Department of Industrial Relations has ...

In a press conference held on December 2, 2020, the CDC announced their anticipated endorsement of a shortened quarantine time. Individuals without symptoms may end quarantine after seven (7) days, followed by a negative test result. Alternatively, and as a second option, individuals without symptoms may also end quarantine after ten (10) days without the need for a negative test. In regard to the seven (7) day option, a PCR or rapid test is acceptable and should be taken within 48 hours of the end of the quarantine period. Until now, the CDC has recommended a 14-day quarantine ...

Have you seen the 2019 viral video and articles about the young African American wrestler being told by a Caucasian referee that he either had to cut off his locs or forfeit the match? Or the resulting public outcry and negative media attention the referee and school received?

Since 2019, CROWN Act legislation has been gaining momentum. The CROWN Act stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” and is legislation that specifically prohibits discrimination in employment based on hair texture, protective hairstyles – including braids, locs, twists, and ...

The Trump administration has enacted more than 400 immigration policy changes. That’s one change every 3.65 days the administration has been in office.

Weary from the whiplash of changes and weight of additional work, many are wondering how President-Elect Joe Biden will approach immigration policy.

Here are my thoughts on four issues affecting clients:

The Quickest Change Will Likely Be Better Visa Processing Times

COVID-19 will still slow processing as many U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) employees are working from home. But without the anti-immigration ...

New COVID-19 cases are surging in Illinois, and Illinois is ramping up more restrictions by instituting additional measures throughout the state. Generally, these measures have the objective of limiting gatherings and encouraging people to stay at home, but do not rise to the level of a stay-at-home order. Illinois’ Phase 4 remains in place with the following new restrictions:

  1. Manufacturing (Implementation of safety guidelines): 
    • Additional COVID-19 training for all employees (even if previous training occurred)
    • Employers to coordinate with IDPH to implement testing ...