Tag Archives: Massachusetts

Salary History Inquiry Bill Down But Far From Out

Contributed by Noah A. Frank, September 19, 2017

wage

On June 28, 2017, HB 2462, an amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act, passed both chambers of Illinois General Assembly. The bill would have made an employer’s inquiry into an applicants’ wage, benefits, and other compensation history an unlawful form of discrimination. Even worse for Illinois employers, the bill would allow for compensatory damages, special damages of up to $10,000, injunctive relief, and attorney fees through a private cause of action with a five (5) year statute of limitations.

On August 25, 2017, Governor Rauner vetoed the bill with a special message to the legislature that, while the gender wage gap must be eliminated, Illinois’ new law should be modeled after Massachusetts’s “best-in-the-country” law on the topic, and that he would support a bill that more closely resembled Massachusetts’ law.

The bill, which passed 91 to 24 in the House, and 35 to 18 in the Senate, could be reintroduced as new or amended legislation following the Governor’s statement, or the General Assembly could override the veto (71 votes are needed in the House, and 36 in the Senate, so this is possible) with the current language.

Why is this important?

With the Trump Administration, we have seen an increase in local regulation of labor and employment law. This means that employers located in multiple states, counties, and cities must carefully pay attention to the various laws impacting their workforces. Examples of this type of “piecemeal legislation” we have already seen in Illinois and across the country include local ordinances impacting minimum wage, paid sick leave, and other mandated leaves. Additionally, laws that go into effect in other jurisdictions may foreshadow changes at home as well (e.g., Illinois’s governor pointing towards Massachusetts’s exemplary statue).

Had it become law, this amendment would have effective required employers to keep applications and interview records (even for those they did not hire) for five years to comply with the statute of limitations for an unlawful wage inquiry (the Illinois Equal Pay Act already imposes a five year status of limitations for other discriminatory pay practices). By contrast, under Federal law, application records must be kept for only one year from the date of making the record or the personnel action involved (2 years for educational institutions and state and local governments).

What do you do now?

While the law has not gone into effect as of the date of this blog, it is likely that some form of the salary history amendment will ultimately become law in Illinois. Businesses should carefully review their job applications, interview questions, and related policies to avoid inquiries that may lead to challenges in the hiring process.

Additionally, record retention (and destruction!) policies should be reviewed for compliance with these and other statutes – as well as to ensure data integrity and security.

Finally, seek the advice of experienced employment counsel for best practices in light of national trends to remain proactive with an ounce of prevention

Attention CA & MA Employers – Paid Sick Leave Goes Into Effect July 1!!

California

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1522, the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014.” Under this new law, effective July 1, 2015, California employers, with few exceptions, must provide at least 24 hours (3 working days) of paid sick leave per year to their employees.  Read more here!

Massachusetts

On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot referendum requiring Massachusetts employers to provide paid sick leave. The new law will take effect on July 1, 2015. Massachusetts joins California and Connecticut as states requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, along with cities such as San Francisco, Newark and New York City.  Read more here!

With A New Year Comes New Rules! Here’s Your State Employment Law Update

Contributed by Heather Bailey

California: Effective January 1, 2015, the required paid for rest periods are considered “hours worked” by the employee, and, consequently, are not subject to wage deductions by the employer.  (California also has special requirements for making any deductions from their paychecks that you should be aware of before making any).

Colorado: Minimum wage rose to $8.23 per hour on January 1 

Connecticut: As of the first of the year, CT’s minimum wage went to $9.15 per hour.  Are you aware there is a paid sick leave law in CT?  If not, be sure to contact your employment counsel or the blog author as some changes were made beginning January 1st.

DCAs of December 17, 2014, employers cannot ask applicants certain information about their criminal backgrounds and any rescinding of a conditional offer of employment must be backed up with a legitimate business reason.  Moreover, employers are required to reasonably accommodate pregnant women when their workload is affected by pregnancy, child birth and child-related medical conditions (i.e., breast feeding).

Massachusetts:  Effective January 1, minimum wage increased to $9 per hour.  July 1, 2015, employers with 11 or more employees will be required to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to employees.

MarylandMaryland’s minimum wage rose to $8.00 as of January 1st.

Missouri: Effective January 1, all equal-priority garnishments should now be prioritized by date of receipt.

New Jersey: NJ joined the other states starting March 1, 2015 to “Ban the Box” and prohibits job advertisements from stating only those without a criminal past can apply.

New York Effective December 31st this past year, minimum wage increased for NY to $8.75 per hour.  Effective immediately, employers will not be required to notify their employees in writing by February 1 about pay rates, pay days, etc. and get signed acceptance.  Employers do still need to abide by their obligation to notify employees of the same at time of hire.

Ohio:  Ohio has now given employers the ability to seek out protective orders when dealing with employees’ stalker or menacing issues when the conduct is directed at the employer.

Rhode Island: Your minimum wage increased to $9 an hour beginning this month.

Vermont: Your minimum wage increased to $9.15 an hour beginning this month.

Please keep in mind that the majority of states increased their minimum wages and you should contact your employment labor counsel or the blog author to confirm you are in compliance.

It’s Spreading Like the Flu – Massachusetts Becomes the 3rd State to Require Employers to Provide Paid Sick Time

Contributed by John Lynch

On November 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot referendum requiring Massachusetts employers to provide paid sick leave.  The new law will take effect on July 1, 2015.  Massachusetts joins California and Connecticut as states requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, along with cities such as San Francisco, Newark and New York City.StethescopeGavel

Under the new Massachusetts law, employers with 11 or more employees must allow all employees (whether full or part time) to earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year.  Employees accrue paid sick time at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.  (Employers with 10 or fewer employees must allow their employees to use unpaid sick time, accrued at the same rate as paid sick time by employees at companies with 11 or more employees.)

Employees may use sick time for their own physical or mental illness or condition, for a spouse, child, or parent’s (or spouse’s parent’s) illness or condition, or to address the psychological, physical or legal effects of domestic violence.

An employer and employee can mutually agree, but the employer may not require that an employee who takes time off for a covered reason may make up the time by working an equivalent number of hours during the same or next pay period rather than use accrued sick leave.  (Note, however, that if a different workweek is used, there could be overtime implications if those “additional hours” put the employee over 40 hours for that particular workweek.)

When the need for paid sick time is foreseeable, the employee must make a good faith effort to provide advance notice of the leave (e.g., a doctor’s appointment, a court appearance for domestic violence, etc.)  For an absence that covers more than 24 consecutive scheduled work hours, an employer may require certification from a health care provider that the absence was necessary for a covered reason.

An employer may not interfere with, or retaliate against an employee for, the use of sick time under the new law.

Employees begin earning sick time on their first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.  But an employer may require a waiting period of 90 calendar days after commencement of employment for an employee to begin using sick time.

Employees may carry over up to 40 hours of accrued but unused sick time, but an employer may place a limit of 40 hours of sick time that may be used per year.  Importantly, employers are not required to pay employees for accrued but unused sick time upon termination of employment.

The law requires the Massachusetts Attorney General to create a Notice, which employers must post in a conspicuous place in the workplace as well as provide a copy to employees.

What Should Employers Do?

Between now and July 1, 2015, Massachusetts employers should update their sick leave, PTO leave, and record-retention policies to ensure compliance and proper record keeping.  Employers should also ensure that all managers and supervisors are trained in the application of the new law and the employer’s revised policies.

Finally, employers should update their new hire packets and Employee Handbooks to reflect compliance with the new law.

Paid Sick Leave? Ban The Box? Pregnancy? Equal Pay? Smoker Retaliation Poster? Here’s Your State Employment Law Update

Contributed by Heather Bailey

Reminder: EEO-1 Surveys Due To Be Filed By September 30th! 

US Map

Arizona:  In July, the Attorney General confirmed that the AZ smoking restrictions do not apply to e-cigs.

California: Employers, get ready to start having to offer paid sick leave beginning July 1, 2015 if you aren’t already!  See our September 16, 2014 post for more details.  Also, beginning January 1, 2015, unpaid interns and volunteers are getting the same nondiscrimination and harassment treatment as paid workers, including non-harassment training.

Connecticut:  Starting October 1, 2014, workers may obtain certificates of rehabilitation related to their arrests and convictions of which employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees and applicants when they present one for initial or continuing employment.

Delaware:  Your minimum wage increased to $7.75 per hour on June 1, 2014!

Illinois:  In case you missed our other blog posts, effective January 1 2015, Illinois joined the ranks of the “Ban the Box” campaign, which prohibits employers (with 15 or more employees) from asking applicants about criminal records on a job application.  You cannot do so until they have either been selected for an interview or been given a conditional offer of employment (with a few select exceptions).  Also effective January 1, the Illinois Human Rights Act related to pregnancy was expanded (more than any other state) so employers must now reasonably accommodate any condition related to pregnancy.

Indiana:  On September 2, 2014, the right to work law was upheld once again – this time by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

MassachusettsPlease note your minimum wage hikes: January 1, 2015, $9 per hour ($3 an hour for tipped employees); $10 an hour ($3.35 for tipped employees) on January 1, 2016, and to $11 ($3.75 for tipped) beginning January 1, 2017.

Michigan: Your minimum wage increased to $8.15 per hour on September 1, 2014.

Missouri: The Missouri Supreme Court recently held that the state’s statutory cap on punitive damages is unconstitutional as is applied to certain common law claims. (Lewellen v. Franklin, case SC92871). The holding is limited to common law causes of action that existed when the Missouri Constitution was adopted in 1820.  In the short-term, this decision may raise the cost of litigation as plaintiff’s attorneys will undoubtedly try to add common law claims to employment lawsuits hoping that the threat of unlimited punitive damages will result in more generous settlements.  However, given that traditional common law claims have been increasingly difficult to sustain in the employment context and have been largely supplanted by statutory and more recently-recognized common law actions, Lewellen is ultimately unlikely to raise the stakes for Missouri employers.  Read more about this here.

New Hampshire:  Beginning January 1, 2015, employers have a new mandatory poster requirement for equal pay and smoker rights non-retaliation, as well as, employers may not prohibit employees from discussing pay wages or retaliate against them for doing the same.

Oklahoma:  OK jumped on the band wagon by prohibiting employers from requiring employees to give up their personal social media log-ons and passwords, effective November 1, 2014.

Vermont: Vermont’s smoking ban includes at least 25 feet from buildings and entrances.  Your minimum wage obligations also increase: January 1, 2015 = $9.15 per hour; January 1, 2016 = $9.60; January 1, 2017 = $10 and January 1, 2018 = $10.50.  All tipped employees must be paid at least one-half of the minimum wage effective January 1, 2015.