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.

Many Arizona state employees become “at will”

September 14, 2012 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Most new state government workers in Arizona soon will be at-will employees thanks to a new law overhauling the state personnel system that goes into effect September 29.

The new law consolidates nine different personnel systems in the executive branch and converts new hires, attorneys, supervisors, and several other high-level employees to at-will status. Certain employees, such as peace officers and employees within the Arizona Department of Public Safety, will be exempt from the changes.

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SB 1070 conflicts with federal law on alien employment

U.S. Supreme Court BuildingBy Dinita L. James

Arizona’s attempt to make criminals out of those who work or seek employment while unlawfully in the United States suffered a fatal blow in the U.S. Supreme Court today. The 5-3 decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that Congress already has “decided it would be inappropriate to impose criminal penalties on aliens who seek or engage in unauthorized employment.” Thus, Section 5 of the 2010 Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (more commonly known as SB 1070), the only provision dealing directly with the employment of undocumented aliens, will never go into effect.

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Categories: Arizona / U.S. Supreme Court

December 30 Deadline Looms in Vote for Top ‘Blawg’

December 20, 2011 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Time is running out to cast your votes in the ABA Journal’s fifth Annual Blawg 100 contest to choose the most popular law blogs. To vote for your favorites, go to by December 30.

The blogs are divided into 12 categories, and voters are allowed 12 votes. But you are allowed to vote more than once in each category.

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Categories: Arizona / Commentary / Delaware / Texas

Supreme Court to Review Arizona’s Divisive Immigration Law

December 13, 2011 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

by Chris McFadden

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments in Arizona v. United States, the lawsuit concerning the constitutionality of the state’s controversial immigration enforcement measure S.B. 1070. The bill originally was scheduled to become law in June 2010. However, shortly before it went into operation, the U.S. District Court for Arizona issued an injunction preventing four key parts of the measure from taking effect. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, and the following provisions of the law have remained stalled since:

  • Undocumented workers may not apply for or perform work;
  • When applicable, individuals must carry “alien-registration papers”;
  • Police officers must make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of stopped individuals when they suspect that they are in the United States illegally;
  • Police may make warrantless arrests of individuals when they believe they have committed offenses that could lead to their removal from the United States.

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Arizona Minimum Wage Rising 30 Cents for 2012

December 05, 2011 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

By Dinita L. James

Arizona’s minimum wage will increase 30 cents to $7.65 for the 2012 calendar year, making it 40 cents higher than the federal minimum wage.
The increase is a result of Proposition 202, also known as the Raise the Arizona Minimum Wage for Working Arizonans Act, which was approved by state voters in 2006. The Act established a minimum wage for Arizona and provides for annual increases based on increases in the cost of living.

By law, the federal consumer price index for all urban consumers, U.S. city average (CPI-U), for goods and services during the 12 months ending each August 31 is the benchmark for whether the Arizona minimum wage will increase the next calendar year. The CPI-U increased 3.8 percent between August 2010 and August 2011.

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Categories: Arizona

Arizona Petitions U.S. Supreme Court to Review S.B. 1070

August 11, 2011 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

By Dinita L. James

Following through on the strategy announced in April, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer filed a petition yesterday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the lower court decisions blocking implementation of key provisions of S.B. 1070, Arizona’s tough immigration law.

A federal district judge in Arizona blocked four provisions of the law, formally known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, from taking effect in July 2010. The injunction allowed certain aspects of the law to go into effect but blocked other provisions, including one making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to solicit, apply for, or perform any work in the state.

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Employers Whose Employees Work in California Are Subject to State Overtime Laws

July 06, 2011 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

By Chris McFadden

CaliforniaEmployers that require workers to travel to and work within California may be subject to the state’s overtime laws even though their employees are nonresidents. The California Supreme Court decided last week that the California Labor Code applies to the overtime claims of three nonresident instructors who performed work within the state. The employees, who worked for Oracle, worked mainly in their home states (Arizona and Colorado) but were required to travel to California as part of their positions. The instructors alleged that Oracle’s failure to pay overtime for work performed in California was a violation of the state’s Labor Code as well as an unlawful business act under the state’s unfair competition law.

The court determined that California’s overtime law applies to all work performed in the state in excess of eight hours in one workday and 40 hours in one workweek regardless of the employee’s place of residence. The court noted that the state’s overtime laws were designed to serve important public-policy goals such as protecting the health and safety of employees from “the evils associated with overwork” and providing an incentive to spread employment to a greater number of individuals. These policies would not be served by excluding nonresidents from the state’s overtime laws. In addition, any extra burden on employers as a result of complying with California’s overtime laws would be incidental. The court held that the state’s overtime laws don’t apply to work performed outside California.

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