State & Local Employment Law Developments: Q2 2022

Alabama

Leave Benefits for Adoption: Alabama’s Adoption Promotion Act (the Act) takes effect on July 1, 2022 and requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The Act also mandates that employers who provide paid leave benefits and additional leave considerations for the birth of a child provide similar benefits for adoption.

Marketplace Contractors: Effective July 1, 2022, marketplace contractors are not considered employees under workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance laws (if certain conditions are met). Marketplace contractors are persons/entities who enter into agreements with marketplace platforms to be connected with third parties seeking services — such as drivers for Uber and Lyft.

Arizona

Expansion of Employer Definition under Sexual Harassment Discrimination: Arizona enacted a change to the sexual harassment provisions of existing employment discrimination law, so that the law applies to any employers or their agents who commit sexual harassment or retaliate against someone for reporting it.

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Coming August 2022: Colorado Substantially Limits Noncompete Agreements

Beginning August 10, 2022, Colorado will drastically narrow the circumstances in which Colorado employers can seek to enforce noncompete and other restrictive employment agreements. Despite Colorado law already having a general restriction against the use of noncompete agreements, the Colorado General Assembly recently passed, and Gov. Jared Polis has now signed, HB 22-1317. With this bill, Colorado joins the growing number of states enacting increased employee protections against restrictive covenant agreements, including banning such agreements with workers earning below a certain threshold.

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U.K. Employment Law Update: Worker Status, Non-Compete Restrictions and COVID-19 Dismissal

Clarification on Worker Status

In Nursing and Midwifery Council v Somerville [2022] EWCA Civ 229, the Court of Appeal (CoA) considered whether an obligation on the part of a worker to perform a minimum amount of work was a prerequisite for worker status.

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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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EEOC, DOJ: Using AI Technology in Employment-Related Decisions May Violate ADA

Employers increasingly rely on computer-based tools to assist them in hiring workers, monitoring worker performance, determining pay or promotions, and establishing terms and conditions of employment. Automatic resume-screening software, hiring software, chatbot software, video interviewing software, analytics software, and employee monitoring and worker management software allow employers to find efficiencies in day-to-day employee management. Software may scan resumes and prioritize the use of certain keywords, rate employees based on their keystrokes, facial expressions or speech patterns, and obtain information about qualifications and cognitive abilities before a hiring manager ever takes a second look.

On May 12, 2022, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued separate guidance addressing employers’ use of algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) in employment-related decision-making. Both technical assistance documents focus specifically on how employers’ use of these technologies may adversely impact individuals with disabilities and violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Artificial Intelligence Briefing: Agencies Release Guidance on Employer Use of AI Systems

Significant new guidance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) advises employers that use of AI and algorithmic decision-making systems in employment-related decisions may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. In other AI news, automated decision-making and algorithmic bias became focal points at three major industry conferences held in the past month, as industry leaders work to get ahead of the rising tide of regulations targeting AI.

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