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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Boeing’s Right to Relocate Some Operations to South Carolina before NLRB

June 13, 2011 - by: HR Hero Alerts 1 COMMENTS

Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will begin its unfair labor practice case against Boeing, insisting that the company may not move some of its operations from Washington to South Carolina because the move might somehow violate workers’ rights. The outcome of this case goes well beyond South Carolina, but it is vitally important to the state — in particular, the Charleston area.

The complaint alleges that Boeing’s decision to move some operations to South Carolina was made in retaliation against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) for work stoppages in the past. According to the complaint, the IAM had engaged in strikes against Boeing in 1977, 1989, 1995, 2005, and 2008. The union hasn’t represented Boeing employees in North Charleston since 2009, when employees at the facility voted to decertify it. The complaint asks the NLRB to require Boeing to relocate the production line to the Puget Sound facility.

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Six States Increase Indexed Minimum Wages for 2011

December 27, 2010 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

As the new year approaches, a number of states will see index-driven increases to their minimum wage rates. Specifically, Arizona, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington will each add around 10 cents per hour to their existing wage rates, based on an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of a little more than one percent from August 2009 to August 2010. Two other states, Florida and Missouri, have chosen not to adjust their indexed wages.

In Arizona, the state minimum wage will increase from $7.25 to $7.35 per hour and will remain at that rate throughout the next year. Tipped employees’ hourly wages also will increase 10 cents, from $4.25 to $4.35. The new minimum wage must be posted in an area where employees can read the poster, such as the break room.

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