OSHA’s Regional Emphasis Program on Reducing Exposure to Ammonium

Posted in GT Alert, OSHA, Workplace Safety

On Oct. 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a new Regional Emphasis Program (REP) to address hazards from exposure to fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) and agricultural anhydrous ammonia. The REP will be effective in the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. It is aimed at employers in the fertilizer storage, mixing/blending, and distribution industries whose workers can face hazards leading to serious illness, injury, and death from fire, explosions, and exposure to toxic gases and chemicals.

The REP was a result of a disaster at a facility several years ago in West, Texas, where at least forty tons of FGAN exploded and killed fifteen people, injured hundreds of others, destroyed the facility, and damaged other surrounding buildings.

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UPDATE: New Anti-Sexual Harassment Compliance Mandates for New York State and New York City in Full Swing

Posted in EEOC, GT Alert, Harassment, Retaliation, Sexual Harrassment, State Law

New York State and New York City have passed new legislation in an effort to strengthen prohibitions against sexual harassment in the workplace. Last month, we reported on those new developments (See GT Alert, “New Anti-Sexual Harassment Compliance Mandates for New York State and New York City in Full Swing,” September 2018).

By Oct. 9, 2018, all employers must adopt the state’s model anti-sexual harassment policy or a customized version meeting the state’s minimum standards. After issuing draft documents in August, the state issued, on Oct. 1, final model policy and training documents. As detailed below, many of the changes made last week to the draft policies and documents are worth noting.

To read the full GT Alert, click here.

Illinois Legislative Update: Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act and Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act

Posted in Wage & Hour

In the week of Aug. 24, 2018, Governor Bruce Rauner approved amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA). The IHRA amendments go into effect immediately and increase the timeframe for employees to file a charge; restructure the Illinois Human Rights Commission (the Commission); and allow employees to opt out of the Illinois Department of Human Rights’ (IDHR) investigative process. The IWPCA amendments go into effect Jan. 1, 2019 and require employers to reimburse employees for costs that are incurred in direct relation to their work for the employer.

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Recapping the Many Legislative Developments Affecting Private Employers in New York and New Jersey, So Far, in 2018

Posted in Legislation

There have been many significant legislative developments over the past year which have and will affect private employers in New York and New Jersey. Federal, state, and local legislatures have been busy in the employment arena, promulgating rules and regulations affecting a broad range of well-entrenched employment practices. For instance, in New Jersey, pending legislation affecting the resolution of discrimination cases could upturn the status quo on matters as fundamental as requiring claimants to hold terms of a settlement agreement in confidence and agree to waive claims. If you overlooked any of these developments, or need a quick and easy reference of all that has occurred or is on the horizon, we hope this topline recap will be helpful.

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New Anti-Sexual Harassment Compliance Mandates for New York State and New York City in Full Swing

Posted in Sexual Harrassment

For New York employers who may not have closely monitored legal developments in the human resources and sexual harassment sphere over the summer, now is a good time to become familiar with the significant legal changes in effect, especially those with pressing deadlines.

With increasing national media coverage of sexual harassment claims, both New York State and New York City have passed new legislation in an effort to strengthen prohibitions against sexual harassment in the workplace.

The laws place new mandates on New York employers, and in some cases, require compliance within a tight timeframe. It is therefore critical for New York State and New York City employers to be aware of these requirements and to develop an action plan for timely and strategic compliance.

As detailed below, the most pressing deadline is for the requirement that New York City employers must display a new sexual harassment prevention poster and distribute to new employees a sexual harassment fact sheet. That deadline is Sept. 6, 2018.

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Budding Use of Legal Marijuana Creates Sticky Situation for NJ Employers

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, Employee Policies, Labor, Legalization of Marijuana

Kristine J. Feher and Danielle E. Gonnella co-authored an article in the New Jersey Law Journal titled “Budding Use of Legal Marijuana Creates Sticky Situation for NJ Employers.” The article discusses the whole new arena of substance-related challenges faced by employers in states where marijuana has been legalized for medical and/or recreational use, or decriminalized.

To read the article, click here.


Significant Changes Ahead as Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act Signed Into Law

Posted in Legislation

On August 10, 2018, Governor Baker signed into law the Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act (the Act). The new law brings significant changes to the use and enforcement of noncompetition agreements in Massachusetts. The Act was passed as part of a comprehensive economic development bill and applies to noncompetition agreements entered into on or after October 1, 2018.

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California Supreme Court Holds California Statutes and Wage Orders do not Incorporate FLSA De Minimis Doctrine; Declines to Decide Whether De Minimis Principle May Ever Apply to Wage and Hour Claims

Posted in FLSA, Labor, Uncategorized, Wage & Hour

On July 26, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision in Troester v. Starbucks Corporation, in which it considered the applicability of the de minimis doctrine to claims for unpaid wages under the California Labor Code. The de minimis doctrine is an application of the legal maxim that “the law does not concern itself with trifles,” and has been applied in certain circumstances to excuse the payment of wages for small amounts of otherwise compensable time upon a showing that the units of time are administratively difficult to record.

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California Clarifies How Employers Can Use Salary History Information

Posted in Compensation, Legislation, State Law

On July 18, 2018, Governor Brown signed AB 2282, the Fair Pay Act Bill, into law to clarify Labor Code sections 432.3 and 1197.5 (also known as the California Equal Pay Act), which collectively dictate how employers can use salary history information of employees and applicants for employment. Existing law prohibits California employers from asking job “applicants” for salary history information and requires them to provide “applicants” with the “pay scale” for a position upon “reasonable request.” Existing law also prohibits employers from paying employees of one sex less than the other for substantially similar work and prohibits prior salary, by itself, from justifying any pay disparity.

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Massachusetts to Phase-In Minimum Wage Hike, Eliminate Sunday Premium Pay, and Provide Paid Family and Medical Leave

Posted in Compensation, Wage & Hour

On June 28, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Baker signed into law “An Act Relative to Minimum Wage, Paid Family Medical Leave, and the Sales Tax Holiday.” The new law will gradually increase the minimum wage over the next five years; phase-out premium Sunday pay for retail employees; and create a paid family and medical leave program for Massachusetts employees.

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