States approve minimum wage, paid leave ballot questions

November 10, 2016 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

States with employment-related ballot questions mostly approved them during the November 8 election, and employers have little lead time before many measures will be implemented.

All told, 14 states have new provisions with which companies must comply, some as early as January 1, 2017.

Minimum wage

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Arizona voters approve increased minimum wage, paid sick leave

by Dinita L. James
Gonzalez Law, LLC

On November 8, nearly 60% of Arizona voters cast ballots in favor of increasing the state’s minimum wage and providing mandatory paid sick leave. The measure ensures that employers will have to pay at least $10 per hour beginning January 1, 2017. Thereafter, the minimum wage will increase by 50 cents each year until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020.

Based on unofficial returns, Proposition 206, the Healthy Working Families Initiative, passed by healthy margins in 14 of Arizona’s 15 counties, with only Graham County in the southeast corner of the state voting against it.

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Arizona voters will decide minimum wage, recreational marijuana proposals

by Dinita L. James
Gonzalez Law, LLC

On August 18 and 19, two Maricopa County Superior Court judges cleared the way for two voter initiatives with significant implications for Arizona employers to appear on the November ballot. One would raise the statewide minimum hourly wage to $10 on January 1, 2017, and the other would make recreational marijuana legal for people 21 and older and establish a regulatory system like Colorado’s.

Opponents of both measures challenged the petition procedure through which hundreds of thousands of Arizona citizens had endorsed putting the proposed laws to a vote. The dismissal of both lawsuits on August 19 likely means voters will get their say on whether the two provisions will become law.

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New Arizona law allows independent contractors to declare their status

by Dinita L. James
Gonzalez Law, LLC

A new Arizona law going into effect on August 6 will allow independent contractors to provide a declaration of their independence to businesses using their services.

The law provides a form called a declaration of independent business status (DIBS) to help determine whether a worker should be classified as an independent contractor or an employee.

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Appeals court keeps hold on Obama’s immigration orders

May 27, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

No quick resolution is in sight to the uncertainty surrounding President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. On May 26, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to lift a temporary hold on Obama’s actions, which were designed to ease deportation worries for millions of undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for years.

“Employers will have to wait possibly months, or years, for the courts or Congress to resolve the status of undocumented immigrants who would have been eligible for work permits under President Obama’s executive action,” said Elaine C. Young, an attorney with the Kirton McConkie law firm in Salt Lake City and an editor of Utah Employment Law Letter.

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New Arizona law spells out employees’ victim leave rights

by Jodi R. Bohr

An amendment to Arizona’s law addressing leave rights for victims of juvenile offenses goes into effect on July 24, making the law on juvenile offenses mirror the law addressing leave rights for victims of criminal offenses.

During its second regular session, the 51st Arizona Legislature amended Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 8-420 regarding a crime victim’s right to take leave from work. Arizona has two statutes that address leave rights for victims of criminal and juvenile offenses at A.R.S. § 13-4439 and § 8-420, respectively. When the amendment to § 8-420 becomes effective, the statutes will match regarding the rights granted to employees.

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New Arizona law outlaws double-dipping unemployment benefits

by Dinita L. James

A new Arizona law going into effect July 24 means employees who are let go with severance pay won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits right away.

The law adds a new section to Arizona Revised Statutes § 23-621 to define severance pay, a term that was undefined in earlier legislation, which resulted in a laid-off employee of a beverage distributor receiving a year’s salary in addition to unemployment benefits.

The case began when Phoenix beverage distributor Hensley & Company implemented a reduction in force (RIF) in 2011. The company designed the RIF so that all laid-off employees would be paid two weeks of base pay and whatever benefits remained in the month of termination.

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Same-sex partners of state employees will keep benefits

by Dinita L. James

In a bit of housecleaning after its landmark rulings in two same-sex marriage cases on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Thursday not to hear an Arizona case that was one of 10 others that had been awaiting action raising similar issues. The Court’s action is significant to employees of state agencies, who will continue to be able to include their same-sex (but not opposite-sex) domestic partners on their state-provided health insurance.

We have covered the Arizona case, Brewer v. Diaz, extensively in Arizona Employment Law Letter, with articles appearing in the September 2010, April 2011, August 2012, and January 2013 issues. The controversy started back in 2008, when then-Governor Janet Napolitano’s administration began offering healthcare coverage to both opposite- and same-sex domestic partners of state employees. After the November 2008 election, Governor Napolitano went to Washington to become secretary of homeland security, and Jan Brewer succeeded her.

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Phoenix bans sexual orientation discrimination

by Dinita L. James

On February 26, the Phoenix City Council voted to amend its human relations ordinance to include lesbian, gay, and transgender persons as well as disabled individuals among the groups protected from employment discrimination. The 5-3 vote came after a nearly five-hour public hearing before an estimated 500 people in the city’s historic Orpheum Theatre.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton had fast-tracked the amendment, which was something of a sleeper until opponents, including the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, mobilized in the week before the vote. Phoenix had voted down a similar proposal 21 years ago.

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Minimum wage going up in 10 states

December 10, 2012 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

The 2013 minimum hourly wage is set to go up in 10 states.

  • Arizona. The rate goes from $7.65 to $7.80. The state’s minimum wage is adjusted annually based on a cost-of-living formula.
  • Colorado. The rate is going from $7.64 an hour to $7.78 based on an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Florida. The rate goes from $7.67 to $7.79 because of an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Missouri. The rate goes from $7.25 to $7.35 because of an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Montana. The rate rises from $7.65 to $7.80 based on a cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Ohio. The rate goes from $7.70 to $7.85.
  • Oregon. The minimum hourly rate goes from $8.80 to $8.95 because of an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Rhode Island. Governor Lincoln Chafee signed into law the state’s first minimum wage hike since 2007, raising the rate from $7.40 to $7.75 per hour.
  • Vermont. The rate goes from $8.46 to $8.60 based on an increase in the Consumer Price Index.
  • Washington. The rate goes from $9.04 to $9.19 because of an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Federal law requires employers in states that set their own minimum wage to pay whichever rate is higher.

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