On June 20, 2022, Puerto Rico’s governor signed into law Act No. 41-2022 (“the Act”). The Act rolls back certain changes brought about by the Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act (“LTFA”). The LTFA was enacted in 2017 in an effort to reenergize the island’s economy following its effective bankruptcy.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Employers face new challenges in navigating state and local pay equity laws. New York City joins a number of other jurisdictions that now require employers to disclose pay ranges when advertising job postings – including for incumbents as well as new hires. This law is set to take effect on May 15, 2022 (unless delayed by pending legislation discussed below). The New York City Commission on Human Rights (the “NYCCHR”) recently published a fact sheet providing guidance with regard to Local Law 32 of 2022 (the “NYC Law”). The NYC Law requires all covered employers to include a minimum and a maximum salary in any advertisement for a job, promotion, or transfer opportunity.
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.)