Category Archives: Guidance for Human Resource Professional

NEW LAW: Philadelphia Passes Predictable Scheduling Law

The Philadelphia City Council recently passed the Fair Workweek Employment Standards Ordinance. Under this new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2020, bring predictable scheduling requirements to large retail, hospitality and food service employers in Philadelphia.

Who is considered a large retail, hospitality and food service employer?

For purposes of the new law, a “large employer” is any retail, hospitality and food service employer who employs 250+ employees (full-time, part-time, or temporary) and has 30 or more locations worldwide.

Most importantly, the law considers franchises with separate ownership, but part of the same chain of business (e.g. all McDonalds franchises in Philadelphia) as the same “large employer” for purposes of this law. This means that many (if not all) franchise businesses in Philadelphia will be subject to this new law. Continue reading NEW LAW: Philadelphia Passes Predictable Scheduling Law

NEW CASE: New Risk for Oregon Employers Encouraging Alcohol at After Work Gatherings

The Oregon Supreme Court recently held that the “social host” exemption that protects servers and bartenders from claims against them does not protect employers from other possible negligent acts related to events where alcohol is present.

In the case of Schutz v. La Costita III, Inc., 364 Or. 536 (March 14, 2019), the plaintiff filed claims against the restaurant that served her drinks, the supervisor who encouraged her to drink, and against her employer who she claimed did not adequately train the supervisor on appropriate team building events.

The Plaintiff, Ashley Schultz, claims that her supervisor regularly pressured workers to attend after work events where alcohol was involved. Fearing that she would not advance in the company if she did not participate in one of these events, Schultz finally decided that she would attend after numerous requests. During the event, the supervisor encouraged more drinking and was critical of employees who did not drink enough. Ashley wanted to please her supervisor, but in doing so became intoxicated. When she left the restaurant to return home, she got into a car accident which caused her serious injuries. Continue reading NEW CASE: New Risk for Oregon Employers Encouraging Alcohol at After Work Gatherings

NEW LAW: Cincinnati Passes Salary History Ban

On March 13, 2019, the  city of Cincinnati passed  Ordinance No 0083-2019 that prohibits employers from asking about or relying on the prior salary history of job applicants.

Under the new ordinance, which goes into effect on March 13, 2020 and applies to employers who have 15+ employees in Cincinnati, employers are prohibited from:

  • Inquiring about the salary history of an applicant for employment
  • Screening job applicants based on their current or prior wages, benefits, other compensation, or salary histories, including requiring that an applicant’s prior wages, benefits, other compensation or salary history satisfy minimum or maximum criteria; or
  • Relying on the salary history of an applicant in deciding whether to offer employment to an applicant, or in determining the salary, benefits, or other compensation for such applicant during the hiring process, including the negotiation of an employment contract; or
  • Refusing to hire or otherwise disfavoring, injuring, or retaliating against an applicant for not disclosing his or her salary history to an employer.

Continue reading NEW LAW: Cincinnati Passes Salary History Ban

NEW LAW: Important Changes To New Jersey SAFE Act

On February 19, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed A3975 into law.

In addition to modifying the New Jersey Family Leave Act and the New Jersey Paid Family Leave Insurance Program (see “NEW LAW: Important Changes To New Jersey Family Leave Act And The New Jersey Paid Family Leave Insurance Program”), this bill also modifies and greatly expands the employee leave protections under the New Jersey SAFE Act.

What Is The NJ SAFE Act?

Under the NJ SAFE Act, New Jersey employers with 25+ employees are required to grant eligible employees a 20-day leave of absence if the employee or the employee’s family member has been the victim of domestic violence or a sexually violent offense.

Under the amended version, there are several changes that took immediate effect:

  • Employees taking NJ SAFE Leave Act are eligible for NJFLI Benefits.
  • The definition of the following term has been expanded (the new language is indicated in italics):
    • “Family member” means the employee’s parent-in-law,   sibling,    grandparent,    grandchild, child,    parent, spouse,  domestic  partner,  or  civil  union  partner individual,  or  any other  individual  related  by  blood  to  the  employee,  and  any  other individual that  the  employee  shows  to  have  a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.
  • Employers may no longer require employees use their accrued paid time off for domestic violence leave.

It is recommended that employers prepare for these changes to the New Jersey SAFE Act and make any necessary policy revisions.

Federal Tip Credit and Tip Pooling Basics

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) outlines federal tip credit and tip pooling provisions.

What is tip credit and tip pooling under Federal Law?

  • Under a valid tip credit policy, employers are able to pay tipped employees an hourly rate that is less than minimum wage – provided that the tipped employee’s hourly wage plus tips equals or exceeds the required minimum wage.
  • A tip pooling agreement requires tipped employees to deposit a portion of their customer tips into a common “tip pool” to be shared with other employees. A valid Tip Pooling arrangement must meet all the requirements of the FLSA provisions (and any state requirements) for tipped employees.

Continue reading Federal Tip Credit and Tip Pooling Basics

Going Wild About Service Animals at Work

Animals as a public accommodation.

A growing public trend is the presence of service animals in places like stores, restaurants, schools, airports and job sites. The basis for this trend is not a new one. It comes from Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which guarantees people with disabilities the “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.”  This guarantee from the ADA allows for the use of service animals to help people with disabilities accomplish these public accommodations.

The difference between Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Animals.

Some employers react negatively to the idea of allowing service animals in the workplace. This might be due to a misunderstanding of the difference between service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals. These are entirely different categories of animals.

Service animals are not considered to be pets. These are trained animals that must qualify in two categories to be protected as service animals under the ADA: Continue reading Going Wild About Service Animals at Work

NEW EEOC Case Reminds Employers That Sex Discrimination Isn’t Just for Women – Men Can Be Victims Too

Generally, when one thinks about sex discrimination what comes to mind is a woman being discriminated against by her employer because of her gender.  While that is typically the case, employers should remember that sex discrimination isn’t reserved for women – men can be victims too.  A recently settled EEOC lawsuit (EEOC v. Park School of Baltimore Inc.) makes this point clear to employers with a $41,000 price tag.

In this case, a private school in Maryland had hired a man to coach its softball team.  The coach was given a one-year contract in 2014, which the school then renewed for two additional years (2015-2016).   At the end of the 2016 season, the coach was informed that, despite his good performance, the contract would not be renewed for 2017 because the school preferred “female leadership” for its softball team.

The coach filed a claim with the EEOC alleging that he had been discriminated because of his gender and the EEOC agreed, filing a lawsuit against the school for gender discrimination.

While the case was quickly settled, it serves as an important reminder to all employers that “Title VII protects both men and women from unequal treatment based on gender.”

NEW LAW: Suffolk County, New York Bans Salary History Inquiries

New York’s Suffolk County recently passed a county ordinance prohibiting employers from inquiring into an applicant’s salary history as a part of the hiring process.

Under this new law, which goes into effect on June 30, 2019, employers are prohibited from

  • Inquiring about a job applicant’s wage or salary history, including but not limited to, compensation and benefits.
    • “to inquire” means to ask an applicant or former employer orally, or in writing, or otherwise or to conduct a search of publicly available records or reports.
  • Relying on the salary history of an applicant for employment in determining the wage or salary amount for such applicant at any stage in the employment process, including at offer or contract.

By passing this new law, Suffolk County becomes the fourth locality in New York State to enact a salary history ban law (joining New York City, Westchester County, and Albany County).  To date, New York State has NOT enacted a statewide salary history ban law.

It is recommended that employers in Suffolk County verify that all employment application materials are updated to remove any requests for salary history – including job applications and job interview scripts.  In addition, all employees who are involved in the hiring process are trained about the new requirement and informed that they are not allowed to inquire into applicant’s salary history.

NEW LAW: Coming Soon to Westchester County – Sick Leave

Attention employers in Westchester County, New York – Under the Westchester County Earned Sick Leave Law, starting April 10, 2019 you will be required to provide sick leave benefits to employees who work more than 80 hours in a year.

How much sick leave must be provided?

 Starting April 10, 2019, eligible employees of Westchester County employers will start accruing sick leave. Employers with less than 5 employees may provide unpaid sick leave, while employers with 5 or more employees must provide paid sick leave benefits.

Unused sick leave can be carried over from year-to-year, but employers are not required to allow an employee to use more than 40 hours of sick leave in one year. Continue reading NEW LAW: Coming Soon to Westchester County – Sick Leave

California Employers — Are You Providing School Activities Leave?

Did you know that in California, companies may be required to grant leave to employees to attend their children’s school activities.

School is back in full swing after the holidays, which also means parent teacher conferences, school assemblies, and other school-related activities are being scheduled.

With employees requesting time off to attend events at their child’s school, California employers may not be aware of two lesser known statutes (California Labor Code sections 230.7 and 230.8) that give parents (and other parental figures) of school-aged children protected time off to attend their child’s related school activities.

Who is a covered employer and employee?

Labor Code section 230.7 applies to all California employers regardless of size.  While Labor Code section 230.8 only applies to employers employing 25 or more employees at a single location.

What is a “parent”?

A “parent” is defined as a natural parent, guardian, stepparent, foster parent, or grandparent of a child of the age to attend kindergarten or grades 1 through 12 or a licensed child care provider.   It is important to note that this does not apply to adult children.

What types of leave may an employee be entitled to?

Under Labor Code section 230.7, employers are required to provide parents of school-aged children with time off to appear at their child’s school for disciplinary purposes.

Under  Labor Code section 230.8 , parents of covered employers may take up to 40 hours per year of job-protected time off to find, enroll, or reenroll their children in school or with a licensed child care provider, or to participate in activities of the school or child care provider. In order to take the protected time off, reasonable notice must be given to the employer before the scheduled absence.

In addition, any time taken for the reasons described above must not exceed eight (8) hours in any calendar month of the year. The code does not define child related school and care activities; however broad enough to suggest field trips, parent- teacher conferences and school assemblies are included.

Parents may also be entitled to 40 hours of job-protected leave for unscheduled absences for “emergency” situations.  Emergency situations are defined as a situation where a child cannot stay in the care of the school or child care provider for the following circumstances:

  • the school or child care provider has unexpectedly requested that the child be picked up,
  • behavioral or discipline problems,
  • unexpected closure or unavailability of the school or child care provider,
  • natural disasters such as fire, earthquake, or flood.

Taking leave for this purpose does not negate the parent’s obligation to inform employers of their unscheduled absence as soon as practicable.

 Can employers require Documentation?

An employer may request the employee provide documentation from the school or child care provider to prove the employee took time off for the reasons described above on a particular date and time.

How does other employment policies apply?

Employees may use any accrued/unused vacation or PTO for scheduled time off related to enrollment or school and child care organized activities. Employers are not required to offer paid time off independently to accommodate absences under section 230.8.