Seattle employers should be ready for new background check law

by Amy Kunkel-Patterson

Seattle’s new law restricting the use of criminal background checks takes effect November 1. The Job Assistance Ordinance prohibits employers from requiring applicants to disclose arrest or conviction records as part of initial job applications. It also restricts how employers may use arrest and conviction records that eventually are disclosed.

A number of steps will help employers comply with the new law. Here are a few: read more…

Federal government eases stance on state marijuana laws

August 30, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement updating the federal marijuana enforcement policy means the federal government won’t sue to keep states from allowing controlled recreational use of marijuana, but the effect on employers isn’t yet clear.

The DOJ announced on August 29 that it was revising its policy because of state legislation in Colorado and Washington legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The announcement emphasized, however, that marijuana use remains unlawful under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and federal prosecutors will continue to enforce that law.

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Washington state latest to pass social media privacy law

Employers in Washington state should take note of a new law prohibiting them from requiring current or prospective employees to provide access to their social media accounts.

Washington is the eighth state to pass such a law, and the National Conference of State Legislatures says 33 states are considering similar bills this year. The federal government may soon follow suit. A bipartisan group of representatives recently introduced a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Under the Washington state law, which goes into effect July 28, employers are prohibited from: read more…

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.

New Washington marijuana law doesn’t require employers to change policies

by Javier F. Garcia

Washington’s new law concerning recreational marijuana use takes effect December 6, but it doesn’t require changes in employer policies.

Initiative 502 (I-502), approved in the November 6 election, is intended to make the production and sale of marijuana a regulated, state-licensed system similar to that for controlling hard alcohol. It means that adults over 21 no longer will be prosecuted under state law for possessing limited amounts of marijuana and using it in private.

Marijuana use remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal contractors and employers receiving federal funding will want to avoid policies that allow consumption of marijuana on the premises to prevent loss of funding and federal prosecution. Also, many employers have drug-free workplace policies and/or collective bargaining agreements that prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana in the workplace.

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Seattle’s paid sick and safe time leave law takes effect September 1

August 29, 2012 - by: HR Hero Alerts 5 COMMENTS

Seattle’s new law requiring paid sick and safe time leave is set to take effect September 1, and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) has published final rules defining some of the responsibilities of employers that have employees working in Seattle.

Read Seattle’s new sick and safe time rules

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Categories: Washington

U.S. Supreme Court rules drug reps are exempt as “outside salesmen”

By Nancy Williams

Pharmaceutical representatives who persuade physicians to prescribe specific drugs don’t make any actual sales. They can’t because the products they promote can be sold legally only through a doctor’s prescription to an individual patient. Yet for years, it has been a common industry practice to categorize such employees as outside sales representatives under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and thus exempt from federal overtime pay requirements.

A lawsuit by pharmaceutical reps challenged the practice, raising the specter of huge potential overtime pay liability for the industry. Today that concern evaporated with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that the historical classification of pharmaceutical representatives as outside sales reps is correct under the FLSA.

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IRS Offering Employers Break on Misclassification

September 22, 2011 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

Employers worried that they may have misclassified independent contractors may find relief in a new program from the IRS.

The Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) was announced September 21 and offers employers the opportunity to get into compliance by making a minimal payment covering past payroll tax obligations rather than waiting for an IRS audit.

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Employer Groups Fighting Back Against NLRB

September 19, 2011 - by: HR Hero Alerts 2 COMMENTS

Recent actions taken by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have sparked enough anger among employers to prompt a lawsuit, an ad campaign, and support for a bill in Congress that’s seen as a way to curb what one employer group calls a “rogue agency.”

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) filed a lawsuit on September 10 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop the NLRB from moving forward with a recently approved plan to require most employers — both union and nonunion — to display a new poster outlining worker rights.

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Congressional Subpoena Flap Amplifies Criticism of NLRB

August 18, 2011 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena is a sign of increasing rancor stemming from the Board’s case against the Boeing Co.

The NLRB refused to comply with an August 5 subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that set an August 12 deadline for the agency to turn over documents related to the Board’s actions against Boeing.

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