Election results halt minimum wage initiatives in two Maine cities

by Connor Beatty

On November 3, voters in Portland and Bangor rejected attempts to raise the minimum wage in those cities.

In Portland, voters rejected a proposal that would have increased the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. The ordinance would have required all businesses and franchises employing 500 or more employees to raise wages to $15 per hour by 2017, with all other businesses following suit by 2019.

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Houston fails to adopt HERO

by Jacob Monty
Monty & Ramirez, LLP

On November 3, Houston voters decided the fate of a controversial equal rights law by voting against the adoption of Proposition 1, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO).

The ordinance attempted to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in city employment, services, and contracts; public accommodations; and private employment and housing. In addition, HERO would have banned discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, genetic information, and pregnancy.

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Colorado’s new use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy sparks questions

The Colorado Division of Labor has taken a new position on enforcing wage claims based on an employer’s vacation policy, and the position is leaving employers with questions about whether use-it-or-lose-it vacation policies are lawful in the state.

In response to inquiries about whether policies that prohibit employees from rolling over some or all earned vacation or paid time off (PTO) from year to year, the division recently posted frequently asked questions (FAQs) on its website. The FAQs state that such policies don’t necessarily run afoul of the Colorado Wage Protection Act (WPA) and that if an employee challenges the validity of an employer’s policy, the determining factor will be when vacation is earned.

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Judge strikes down St. Louis minimum wage increase

October 15, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

St. Louis employers aren’t facing a phased-in $11 minimum wage now that a state judge has struck down a local ordinance that would have given the city a higher minimum wage than the rest of Missouri. The current minimum wage in Missouri is $7.65 per hour, 40 cents higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Steven Ohmer struck down the ordinance on October 14, a day before the first increase was to go into effect. In August, St. Louis passed the ordinance, which would have raised the minimum wage for workers in the city to $8.25 an hour on October 15. Under the ordinance, the minimum wage would have climbed to $9 an hour on January 1, 2016, $10 an hour on January 1, 2017, and $11 an hour on January 1, 2018.

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California getting tough law on gender wage gap

October 07, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers in California will have to comply with what’s being called the strongest equal pay law in the nation when it takes effect on January 1, 2016.

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., signed the California Fair Pay Act, Senate Bill 358, on October 6. A statement from the governor’s office says current law prohibits employers from paying a woman less than a man when they both perform equal work at the same establishment, but the new law will require equal pay regardless of gender for “substantially similar work.” The new law also will prohibit retaliation against employees who invoke the law and will protect employees who discuss wages.

The new law differs from current law in two key ways, according to Mark I. Schickman, an attorney with Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP in San Francisco. First, it requires employers to understand not only what the “same job” is but also what “comparable jobs” are. “That’s very different,” Schickman said. Plus, the law doesn’t provide employers guidance on how to figure that out. The second key difference is that the new law puts the burden of proof on the employer to justify differences in wages.

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Franchisee group calls ruling on Seattle wage law discriminatory

September 28, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Franchisers in Seattle are faced with phasing in the city’s $15-an-hour minimum wage more quickly than they had hoped now that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected their bid to be classified as small businesses, a decision the franchisers call discriminatory.

In 2014, Seattle passed a minimum wage law that requires employers to phase in the new $15 minimum wage over the next few years. Employers with 500 or fewer employees have more time to implement the change than employers with more than 500 workers.

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New Florida law offers employers protection against hackers

by Lisa Berg

Effective October 1, Florida business owners will have a new civil remedy in the event they’re harmed by unauthorized access to their computers or information stored on protected computers.

Under Florida’s Computer Abuse and Data Recovery Act (CADRA), businesses can pursue a civil action for “harm or loss” suffered as a result of unauthorized access to “protected computers.”

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New Connecticut law makes wage infractions more dangerous

by John Herrington

A new Connecticut law taking effect October 1 requires courts to award double damages plus court costs and attorneys’ fees for most employee wage claims.

Under the new law—Public Act 15-86, the “Act Concerning an Employer’s Failure to Pay Wages”—a court must award, as a baseline default, double damages plus court costs and attorneys’ fees if it finds that an employer has (1) failed to pay an employee’s wages, accrued fringe benefits, or arbitration award or (2) failed to meet the law’s requirements for an employee’s minimum wage or overtime rates.

Before the new law, which applies to all Connecticut employers, courts consistently held that awards for double damages and attorneys’ fees required the employee to establish facts sufficient to support a finding of bad faith, arbitrariness, or unreasonableness by the employer. Under the new law, that burden shifts from employees to employers.

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New Connecticut law protects interns from discrimination, harassment

by Ashley Harrison Sakakeeny

Employers in Connecticut should update their antidiscrimination and antiharassment policies to cover unpaid interns as a new state law becomes effective October 1.

The new law, Public Act 15-56, prohibits discrimination and harassment against interns much like current laws protect employees. It prohibits discrimination based on an intern’s race, color, age, and other protected characteristics. Also, the law makes it illegal to retaliate against an intern for filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment. It permits interns to file complaints with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and, ultimately, in Connecticut superior court.

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Connecticut employers need to be ready for new social media law

by John Herrington

Connecticut employers need to prepare for a new law taking effect October 1 limiting how they can access social media accounts belonging to employees and applicants.

The new law prohibits an employer from:

  • Requesting or requiring employees or applicants to provide a username, password, or any other authentication means for accessing a personal online account;
  • Requesting or requiring employees or applicants to authenticate or access a personal online account in the presence of the employer;
  • Requiring employees or applicants to invite the employer or to accept an invitation from the employer to join a group affiliated with a personal online account;
  • Discharging, disciplining, discriminating against, retaliating against, or otherwise penalizing employees who refuse to provide the means to access a personal online account; or
  • Failing or refusing to hire applicants based on their refusal to provide access to a personal online account.

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