New York fast-food employers bracing for $15 minimum wage

July 24, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

New York fast-food workers may be celebrating the likelihood of a $15-an-hour minimum wage phased in over the next few years, but others are questioning the justification offered for the raise.

A three-member wage board appointed by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recommended the new minimum wage for fast-food workers July 22. It won’t take effect without an order from the state’s acting labor commissioner, which is expected.

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North Dakota eases PTO payout rules

by Lisa Edison-Smith

Because of new legislation taking effect August 1, private-sector employers in North Dakota will find it easier to avoid paying out unused paid time off (PTO) or vacation time when employees quit.

Under the old law, an employer was required to pay a departing employee for any PTO or vacation time that was “available for the employee to use” at the time of separation. The old rule could be expensive for employers. For example, an employee who was entitled to 12 days of PTO per year and was eligible to take the entire 12 days at the time of her separation from employment was entitled to be paid for all 12 unused days, even if she quit on January 2. That was true even if the employer had a policy saying that PTO was “earned” at a rate of one day per month.

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Expanded data security breach laws taking effect in Washington

by Joelle Hong and Amelia Morrow Gerlicher

Washington’s expanded data security breach notification laws are set to take effect July 24, meaning employers must make sure they have safe and effective privacy practices in place and are ready to respond in the event of a security breach.

Under the old law, businesses that own or license computerized data containing personal information about Washington residents must disclose any breach involving unencrypted personal information. But beginning July 24, the requirement will expand to include both computerized and hard copy data containing personal information that is not “secured” as well as encrypted information if the person who gains unauthorized access to the data has access to the encryption key or an alternative means of deciphering the data.

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Wyoming employers need to be ready for strengthened data breach law

by Brad Cave

Wyoming’s new data breach notification law takes effect July 1, meaning employers need to be ready for beefed-up notification requirements.

Wyoming law requires that any entity or person who conducts business in Wyoming and owns or licenses computerized data that include personal identifying information must notify affected consumers of a data breach. Because personal identifying information includes such things as Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and health insurance and medical information, most employers have data covered by the law.

Under the old law, breach notifications needed to include only a toll-free number consumers could use to contact the business that was collecting their data so it could provide the telephone numbers and addresses of the major credit-reporting agencies. Under the new law, notifications must provide much more information.

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Massachusetts final sick leave regulations make substantial changes

by Susan G. Fentin

Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey recently issued final regulations for the state’s new earned sick time law that aren’t quite what employers were expecting. As a result, employers are scrambling to update their sick time policies before the July 1 compliance deadline.

Language in a “model notice” that the AG posted earlier in June turned out to be misleading in two significant ways: read more…

Employers need to examine policies, laws in light of Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling

June 26, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 2 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage means employers across the country need to take a look at their policies as well as the effect the ruling has on various laws dealing with employment.

The Court’s 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges struck down prohibitions on gay marriage in states covered by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals—Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. But it has the effect of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

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Oregon employers must prepare for statewide paid sick leave law

by Cal Keith

Paid sick leave will be the law in Oregon as of January 1, 2016, now that Governor Kate Brown has signed legislation passed by the state legislature in mid-June.

The statewide law mostly mirrors Portland’s sick leave law, which took effect January 1, 2014. It provides that covered employers must allow employees to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees may carry over up to 40 hours of paid sick time to the next year, but they can use only 40 hours in any one year.

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Virginia online privacy law takes effect July 1

by Sara Sakagami

Virginia’s new law placing restrictions on the circumstances in which employers may access their employees’ social media accounts takes effect July 1.

Virginia Code § 40.1-28.7:5 prohibits employers from requiring current or prospective employees to either (1) disclose login information for a personal social media account or (2) add an employee, supervisor, or administrator to the list of contacts associated with a personal social media account. The law defines a “social media account” as a “personal account with an electronic medium or service where users may create, share or view user-generated content.” Included in the definition are videos on sites such as YouTube, photographs on sites such as Instagram or Photobucket, blogs, podcasts, messages, e-mails, and website profiles and locations.

The law prohibits employers from using inadvertently obtained login information to access an employee’s social media account. The law also makes it illegal for employers to fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee for exercising his rights under the law or threatening or taking actions to discharge, discipline, or penalize a current employee for exercising his rights.

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Next phase of Houston’s equal rights law set

June 24, 2015 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

As of June 27, more employers will be covered by the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). The ordinance adds to the protected classes covered under federal and state civil rights laws.

HERO took effect on June 27, 2014, covering employers with 50 or more employees. On June 27, 2015, the law will cover employers with 25 or more employees. On the next anniversary of the law, it will cover employers with 15 or more employees.

HERO protects employees from discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, and pregnancy. Sexual orientation protection extends to both real and perceived sexual orientation.

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Changes to California Family Rights Act regulations take effect July 1

by Marc A. Koonin, Sedgwick LLP

Updated regulations for the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) take effect July 1. The new regulations represent the first significant revisions to the CFRA in 20 years and include a number of changes, many of which are designed to bring the regulations into greater conformity with their federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) counterparts.

Although there was a rough parity between the implementing rules for the CFRA and the FMLA rules for many years, coordinating them became increasingly difficult with the adoption and implementation of new FMLA regulations effective January 16, 2009, March 8, 2013, and March 27, 2015, as well as the modification of the CFRA in 2011.

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