IDOL’s Proposed Rules for the Illinois Equal Pay Registration Certificate Provide Additional Insight for Covered Employers

In June 2021, the Illinois Equal Pay Act (IEPA) was amended to add a requirement for certain Illinois businesses to obtain an equal pay registration certificate (EPRC). The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) issued its long awaited proposed rules regarding the EPRC requirements on May 20, 2022. The proposed rules are subject to a 45-day comment period, which has now passed, followed by an internal review, and a public hearing on August 9, which may result in additional changes before they become final.

However, some Illinois employers have already received notice of a deadline to file their Application for Certification before the rules are finalized. Therefore, a careful review of the proposed rules is helpful as we anticipate issuance of the final rules. While the proposed rules largely mirror statutory requirements (the basics which were laid out in prior posts here and here), IDOL has clarified or provided additional information on a number of topics.

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Michigan Court Reinstitutes Higher Minimum Wage and More Generous Paid Sick Time Laws, Effective Immediately

On July 19, 2022, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled that the “adopt-and-amend” strategy the Michigan Legislature used in 2019 to enact minimum wage and paid sick time laws was unconstitutional. Those laws were regarded as more favorable to businesses, but they amended and substantially differed from the voter-initiated laws the Legislature adopted earlier in the same legislative session. For example, the amended laws reduced the increase of the minimum wage from $12 to $10.10 per hour, lowered the required amount of paid sick time from 72 to 40 hours, exempted employers with fewer than 50 employees, and exempted certain employees, such as executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees. Part-time employees who worked an average of fewer than 25 hours per week were also exempted from the paid sick leave law. The laws are known as the Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA), which the Legislature amended and renamed the Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act (MPMLA), and the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (IWOWA), which was amended under the same name.

According to the court, the Michigan Legislature has only three options in response to a proposed law initiated by voters: (a) adopt the initiative as presented, (b) reject the petition, or (c) propose an alternative law. The Michigan constitution does not permit the tactic used by the Legislature to amend the voter-initiated laws which, in the court’s review, “effectively thwarted the intent of the People.” As a result, the laws that have governed Michigan employers since 2019 have been “voided,” and the original voter-initiated laws are effective immediately.

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California Supreme Court: Unpaid Meal and Rest Period Premiums Can Lead to Wage Statement and Waiting Time Penalties

On May 23, 2022, the California Supreme Court ruled in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc. that unpaid meal and rest period premiums can form the basis of claims for wage statement violations under California Labor Code section 226 and waiting time penalties under California Labor Code section 203.  This is yet another significant decision by the Supreme Court impacting California employers in California particularly since the Court overruled the Court of Appeal, which had held that meal and rest period premiums are not “wages” and therefore cannot lead to wage statement or waiting time penalties.

Background

California law generally requires that employers provide non-exempt employees a reasonable opportunity to take an unpaid, off-duty and uninterrupted meal period of at least 30 minutes before the end of their fifth hour of work, and a second meal period before the end of their tenth hour of work.  Employers also generally must provide 10-minute uninterrupted, paid rest periods to non-exempt employees for every four hours worked (or major fraction thereof).  If an employer does not provide a compliant meal or rest period, the employee in question is entitled to payment of one hour of wages at the employee’s regular rate of pay.  That extra hour of pay is often referred to as a meal or rest period “premium.”

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Massachusetts Employers Be Warned: Telling Employees “Your Wages are Coming, Your Wages are Coming” May Lead to Treble Damages

On April 4, 2022, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held, in Reuter v. City of Methuen, that employers are strictly liable for treble wages as liquidated damages if they fail to make timely payments upon an employee’s termination of employment in compliance with the Massachusetts Wage Act. With its holding, the Court rejected a longstanding trial court precedent that employers who failed to make timely wage payments were liable only for treble interest.

The Massachusetts Wage Act

Section 148 of the Massachusetts Wage Act requires employers to pay unpaid wages to any employee discharged from employment “in full on the day of [the employee’s] discharge.” Mass. Gen. L. C. 149 § 148. As an enforcement mechanism, the Act provides a private right of action for employees and mandates that employees who prevail on § 148 claims “shall be awarded treble damages, as liquidated damages, for any lost wages and other benefits and shall be awarded the costs of litigation and reasonable attorneys’ fees.” The Act specifically defines “wages” to include, among other things, “any holiday or vacation payments due an employee under an oral or written agreement.”

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State & Local Employment Law Developments: Q1 2022

The first quarter of 2022 continued the trend of increasing regulation of the workplace by state and local governments. Although it is not possible to discuss all state and local laws, this update provides an overview of recent and upcoming legislative developments to help you and your organization stay in compliance. (Please note that developments related to issues such as minimum wage rates and COVID-19 are not included.)

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Employer Beware: New California Employment Laws for 2022

*Originally published by CalCPA in the January/February 2022 issue of California CPA.

To borrow from both the Grateful Dead and Miley Cyrus, “… what a long, strange trip it’s been …” and “there’s always gonna be another mountain … ain’t about what’s on the other side, it’s the climb.” Among the lasting 2021 impacts of politics, aberrant weather and wildfires—and COVID-19— is increased regulation of California employers. More than 330 bills introduced in the most recent California legislative session mention “employer,” compared to about 560 bills in 2020. While most bills did not pass the Legislature, many were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, bringing more rules and risks for employers in our state dealing with COVID-19, workplace safety, wage and hour rules, worker classification, working conditions, leaves of absence, posters, Department of Fair Employment and Housing matters, settlements and nondisparagement agreements, and wage rates.

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