Category Archives: Mississippi

New Laws Effective July 1, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from the minimum wage increases, there are a number of new laws coming into effect on or after July 1, 2018.

State New Law
California SB 3 – Amends California’s paid sick leave law and extends California paid sick leave benefits to qualifying in-home supportive services (IHSS) workers.

Effective July 1, 2018

AB 1978 (California Property Service Workers Protection Act) – Requires all janitorial employers register with the DLSE on an annual basis.  Further requires all janitorial employers will also be required to maintain records with basic employee data (e.g. names and addresses, daily hours worked, wage information, and other conditions of employment) for three years and to educate their employees about the unlawfulness of sexual harassment and how to combat it.

Effective July 1, 2018

FEHA Regulations 2 CA ADC § 11027.1 & 2 CA ADC § 11028 – Expands California’s national origin protection regulations to include provisions regarding:

• a broad definition of national origin;
• language-restriction policies and English-only policies;
• accents;
• height and weight requirements
• immigration status

Effective July 1, 2018

Cal-OSHA Regulations – Amended to include a standard on “Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention” and requires affected employers to establish, implement, and maintain an effective musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP) that addresses hazards specific to housekeeping.

Effective July 1, 2018

Colorado HB 1229 — Expands state workers’ compensation law to clarify the definitions of “psychologically traumatic event” and “serious bodily injury.” This allows allow first responders to apply for mental impairment claim under Colorado workers’ compensation law after a “psychologically traumatic event.”

Effective July 1, 2018

Georgia HB 673 (Hands-Free Georgia Act) — Requires drivers (including employees driving for work purposes) to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

Effective July 1, 2018

Idaho HB 527 — Provides that for purposes of the state’s labor and employment laws, a franchisor is not an employer or co-employer of either a franchisee or an employee of the franchisee, unless the franchise agreement of the courts state otherwise.

Effective July 1, 2018

SB 1287 — Amends the state noncompete law so that a company seeking injunctive relief against a “key” employee or independent contractor must establish a likelihood of irreparable harm before an injunction can be issued.

Effective July 1, 2018

HB 466 — Exempts minors working for immediate family members from Idaho’s minimum wage laws.

Effective July 1, 2018

Indiana HB 1286 — Provides that marketplace contractors are considered independent contractors under all Indiana state and local laws if certain conditions are met.

Effective July 1, 2018

SB 290 — Imposes new time frames for completing certain tasks and changes the way penalties are assessed for failing to maintain worker’s compensation insurance coverage on an employer’s workers.  It also extends the renewal period for Second Injury Fund wage replacement benefits from 150 weeks to three years.

Effective July 1, 2018

Iowa HF 2383 — Lowers the minimum alcohol concentration that can be considered a violation of an employer’s written policy providing for alcohol testing from 0.04 to 0.02

Effective July 1, 2018

HF 2240 — Allows employers to provide employees with wage statements by electronic means.  Employers may still provide wage statements via mail or make them available at the employees’ normal place of employment during normal business hours.

Effective July 1, 2018

Maryland SB 134 (Small Business Relief Tax Credit Bill) — Authorizes a tax credit against the State income tax for certain small businesses that provide to qualified employees paid earned sick and safe leave.

Applicable to tax years beginning after December 31, 2017

Massachusetts S.2119 (Massachusetts Act to Establish Pay Equity) — Amends the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act to clarify what constitutes unlawful wage discrimination and further strengthens the existing law by adding protections to ensure greater fairness and equity in the workplace.

Effective July 1, 2018

Mississippi SB 2459 – Extends military leave rights to members of the armed forces of any state (previously protected military leave rights were only provided to members of the US or Mississippi Armed Forces).

Effective July 1, 2018

New Hampshire HB 1319 (An Act Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Gender Identity) — Amends the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination and prohibits employer discrimination because of an individual’s “gender identity.”
Effective July 8, 2018
New Jersey SB 104 (Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act) — Amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to expand its equal pay protections to all “protected classes.  Specifically, it prohibits, among other things, payment to any employee who is a member of a “protected class” at a rate of compensation, including benefits, which is less than the rate paid to employees who are not members of the protected class for substantially similar work.

Effective July 1, 2018

Oklahoma State Question 788 — Legalizes marijuana use for medical purposes in Oklahoma. Forbids employers from penalizing persons for holding a medical marijuana license unless failing to do so causes a loss of benefits under federal law. Allows employers to penalize license-holders who possess or use marijuana while at work.

Effective July 26, 2018

Oregon SB 828 (Predictable Scheduling Law) — Requires large employers (500+ employees worldwide) in food service, hospitality, and retail industries provide new employee with estimated work schedule and to provide current employee with seven days’ notice of employee work schedule.

Effective July 1, 2018

HB 2017 – Requires employers to withhold and remit 0.1% (one-tenth of one percent) of an employee’s wages to fund public transit projects throughout the state.  Applies to (1) all wages paid to any employee who is an Oregon resident, regardless of where he or she works and (2) all wages paid to any employee who is an Oregon resident, regardless of where he or she works.

Effective July 1, 2018

Rhode Island H.5413 (Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act) – Requires Rhode Island employers to provide sick leave benefits to eligible employees.  For employers with 17 or fewer employees, the sick leave benefits are unpaid; while for employers with 18+ employees the sick leave benefits are paid.

Effective July 1, 2018

South Dakota SB 62 — Requires an employer to disclose a data breach within 60 days of discovering it to any South Dakota resident whose personal or protected information was or is reasonably believed to have been acquired by an unauthorized person.

Effective July 1, 2018

Tennessee SB 1967 — Provides that marketplace contractors are considered independent contractors under all Tennessee state and local laws if certain conditions are met.

Effective July 1, 2018

Vermont H.294 – Amends the Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act and prohibits employers from making salary history inquiries during the hiring process.

Effective July 1, 2018

H.333 — Requires all single-user bathrooms in public buildings or places of public accommodation to be marked as gender-neutral.

Effective July 1, 2018

H.511 — Legalizes the use (and possession) of marijuana for recreational purposes.  However, the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes does not create any employment-related protections.

Effective July 1, 2018

H.707 — Makes numerous changes to Vermont’s laws related to sexual harassment, including:

·         Requires that a working relationship with a person hired to perform work or services be free from sexual harassment;

·         Prohibits employment contracts from containing provisions that prevent an employee from disclosing sexual harassment or waive an employee’s rights or remedies with respect to a claim of sexual harassment;

·         Prohibits agreements to settle a sexual harassment claim from including provisions that prevent an employee from working for the employer or an affiliate of the employer in the future;

·         Requires an agreement to settle a claim of sexual harassment to state that it does not prevent the employee from reporting sexual harassment to an appropriate governmental agency, complying with a discovery request or testifying at a hearing or trial related to a claim of sexual harassment, or exercising his or her right under State or federal labor law to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection; and

·         Permits the Attorney General or Human Rights Commission to inspect a place of business or employment for purposes of determining whether the employer is complying with the law related to sexual harassment

Effective July 1, 2018

Virginia HB 146  — Extends the rights regarding (i) leaves of absence from nongovernmental employment, (ii) reemployment, and (iii) employment nondiscrimination that are currently provided to members of the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force and residents of Virginia who are members of the National Guard of another state to any person who is a member of the National Guard of another state who is employed or seeking employment in Virginia.

Effective July 1, 2018

HB 1527 — Requires state and private employers to allow officers or employees who are volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol to provide “Civil Air Patrol Leave” on all days during which such officer or employee is (i) engaged in training for emergency missions with the Civil Air Patrol, not to exceed 10 workdays per federal fiscal year, or (ii) responding to an emergency mission as a Civil Air Patrol volunteer, not to exceed 30 workdays per federal fiscal year.

Effective July 1, 2018

SB 672 – Amends Virginia’s mini-COBRA law to exclude covered employees terminated for gross misconduct.

Effective July 1, 2018

HB 1293 — Increases the penalty for failing to file quarterly unemployment wage or tax reports from $75 to $100.

Effective July 1, 2018

Wyoming HB 0010 — Limits workers’ compensation coverage of nonresident (out-of-state) employers.

Effective July 1, 2018

 

 

2018 MINIMUM WAGE CHECK-UP

With various cities and counties having enacted local minimum wages and 18 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York*, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington) are increasing their own minimum wages on January 1st (December 31st for New York), employers should take time to verify that they are meeting the minimum wage requirements of their state/city/county.

The below chart sets forth the minimum wage effective January 1, 2018.

employer PAYS $1.50/hr towards medical benefits$11.91

Federal $7.25
State City/County  Amount?
Alabama  $7.25
Alaska*  $9.84
Arizona* — all cities/counties except …  $10.50
Flagstaff* $11.00
Arkansas  $8.50
California* — all cities/counties except …                                  small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $11.00
Berkeley  $13.75
Cupertino* $13.50
El Cerrito*  $13.60
Emeryville                                           small employer (55 or less) $14.00
large employer (56 or more) $15.20
Los Altos* $13.50
Los Angeles                                         small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $12.00
Malibu                                                  small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $12.00
Milpitas* $12.00
Mountain View* $15.00
Oakland $12.86
Palo Alto* $13.50
Pasadena                                             small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $12.00
Richmond*                                             employer does NOT pay $1.50/hr towards medical benefits $13.41
employer PAYS $1.50/hr towards medical benefits $11.91
Sacramento*                                      small employer (100 or less) $10.50
large employer (101 or more) $11.00
San Diego $11.50
San Francisco $14.00
San Jose* $13.50
San Leandro $13.00
San Mateo*                                                 For-profit organizations $13.50
Non-profit organizations $12.00
Santa Clara* $13.00
Santa Monica                                       small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $12.00
Sunnyvale* $15.00
Los Angeles County                            small employer (25 or less)

unincorporated areas                            large employer (26 or more)

$10.50

$12.00

Colorado* $10.20
Connecticut $10.10
Delaware $8.25
Florida* $8.25
Georgia $7.25
Hawaii* $10.10
Idaho $7.25
Illinois — all cities/counties except … $8.25
Chicago $11.00
Cook County

(except for the Village of Barrington)

$10.00
Indiana $7.25
Iowa $7.25
Kansas $7.25
Kentucky $7.25
Louisiana $7.25
Maine* — all cities/counties except … $10.00
Portland $10.68
Maryland — all cities/counties except … $9.25
Montgomery County $11.50
Prince George’s County $11.50
Massachusetts $11.00
Michigan* $9.25
Minnesota* — all cities/counties except … “small employers” (employers with an annual sales volume of less than $500,000) $7.87
“large employers” (employers with an annual sales volume of $500,000+) $9.65
Minneapolis                                         large employer (101 or more) $10.00
Mississippi $7.25
Missouri $7.85
Montana* $8.30
Nebraska $9.00
Nevada $8.25
New Hampshire $7.25
New Jersey* $8.60
New Mexico — all cities/counties except … $7.50
Albuquerque*                                             employer provides benefits $7.95
employer does NOT provide benefits $8.95
Las Cruces* $9.45
Santa Fe $11.09
Bernalillo County*unincorporated areas                                             employer provides benefits $7.85
employer does NOT provide benefits $8.85
Santa Fe County unincorporated areas $11.09
New York**  “Upstate” employers (excluding fast food employees) $10.40
“Downstate” employers (excluding fast food employees) $11.00
“Small” NYC employers (excluding fast food employees $12.00
Fast food employees outside NYC $11.75
“Large” NYC employers (excluding fast food employees) $13.00
Fast food employees inside NYC $13.50
North Carolina $7.25
North Dakota $7.25
Ohio* $8.30
Oklahoma $7.25
Oregon — all cities/counties except … $10.25
Portland $11.25
Nonurban Counties 

(Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klmath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa Wheeler counties)

$10.00
Pennsylvania $7.25
Rhode Island* $10.10
South Carolina $7.25
South Dakota* $8.85
Tennessee $7.25
Texas $7.25
Utah $7.25
Vermont* $10.50
Virginia $7.25
Washington* — all cities/counties except … $11.50
City of SeaTac* (hospitality and transportation workers) $15.64
Seattle* $14.00
small employer who does not pay towards medical benefits

(500 or less)

small employer who does pay towards medical benefits

(500 or less)

$11.50
large employer who does not pay towards medical benefits

(501 or more)

$15.00
large employer who does pay towards medical benefits

(501 or more)

$15.45
Tacoma* $12.00
Washington DC $12.50
West Virginia $8.75
Wisconsin $7.25
Wyoming $7.25
 * = increase in minimum wage effective January 1, 2018

** = increase in minimum wage effective December 31, 2017

 

Caveat: Please be advised that this information is being provided as a courtesy and that ePlace Solutions, Inc. does not track local laws and ordinances and will not update this information with changes in local laws and ordinances.

 

 

Employer Dos and Don’ts for Elections

In a previous article (Does Your State Require Voting Leave?), we broke down which states require employers to provide employees with time off to vote. In addition to these voting leave laws, many states have other laws in place that regulate what employers can, and more importantly, what an employer cannot do with respect to an election.

Below is a summary of the applicable laws for each state:

Alabama Employers may not:

·         Use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election and

·         Seek to examine an employee’s ballot.

Alaska Employer may not threaten to inflict damage, harm, or loss to induce an employee to vote or refrain from voting in an election.
Arizona Employers may not

·         Coerce employees to support (or not) a referendum or recall;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Arkansas Employers may not use threats or efforts to intimidate individuals with respect to whether and how they choose to vote.
California Employers may not

·         Prevent an employee from participating in politics;

·         Direct the political activities or affiliations of an employee; or

·         Threaten to discharge an employee for engaging or refusing to engage in certain political activity.

Colorado Employers may not

·         Threaten to discharge employees because of their political party affiliation;

·         Create or enforce a policy to prevent an employee from participating in politics; or

·         Discharge an employee for voting in an election or advocating for a particular candidate or political viewpoint while off duty.

Connecticut Employers may not discipline or discharge employees for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Delaware Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Florida Employers may not

·         Discharge or threaten to discharge employees for how they voted in an election.

·         Use coercion to get an employee to register to vote or support a certain candidate.

Georgia Employers may not

·         Coerce employees to support (or not) a recall;

·         Use threats or efforts to intimidate individuals with respect to whether and how they choose to vote.

Hawaii Employers may not use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election.
Idaho Employers may not use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election.
Illinois Employers may not

·         Use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election

·         Keep records relating to employees’ off-duty political activities, unless the employee gives authorization and/or provides those records to the employer

·         Punish an employee for his off-duty use of “lawful products” (which could include comments made on social media).

Indiana Employers may not

·         Coerce employees to support (or not) a referendum or recall;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Attempt to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Iowa Employers may not use coercion to get an employee to register to vote, to support a certain candidate, or to sign a petition.
Kansas Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Kentucky Employers may not

·         Use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election

·         Distribute any materials stating that employees are expected to vote for a particular candidate; or

·         Attempt to induce employees to vote a certain way in a state election.

Louisiana Employers may not

·         Threaten to discharge employees or otherwise intimidate employees because of their political party affiliation;

·         Allow an employee’s political contributions to affect his employment (including compensation)

Employers with 20+ employees may not

·         Prevent employees from participating in politics;

·         Control employees’ political activities or affiliations; or

·         Threaten to discharge employees if they support certain political parties or activities

 

Maine No laws relating to politics in the workplace
Maryland Employers may not

·         Influence employees’ voting activity through intimidation or bribery;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace

Massachusetts Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Michigan Employers may not

·         Use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election

·         Keep records relating to employees’ off-duty political activities, unless the employee gives authorization and/or provides those records to the employer or the records pertain to activities that took place at work

Minnesota Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Mississippi Employers may not interfere with the political rights of employees.
Missouri Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his or her political activity or

·         Prevent employees from engaging in political activities.

Montana Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Nebraska Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity or

·         Close the business as a result of election results.

Nevada Employers may not

·         Prohibit employees from engaging in politics or serving in public office

·         Punish an employee for his off-duty use of “lawful products” (which could include comments made on social media).

New Hampshire Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
New Jersey Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees;

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace; or

·         Require employees to attend employer-sponsored political meetings.

New Mexico Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
New York Employers may not punish an employee for his off-duty political activities.
North Carolina Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Punish an employee for his off-duty use of “lawful products” (which could include comments made on social media).

North Dakota Employers may not punish an employee for his off-duty political activities.
Ohio Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity; or

·         Attempt to influence an employee’s political beliefs.

Oklahoma Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Oregon Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Pennsylvania Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Rhode Island Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

South Carolina Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
South Dakota Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Tennessee Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Distribute materials intended to coerce employees to vote in a certain way

Texas Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Utah Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Vermont Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Virginia Employers may not

·         Require employees to donate money to political action committees as a condition of employment; or

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.

Washington Employers may not

·         Interfere with an employee’s efforts to support or oppose a political effort

·         Use payroll contributions or salary increases for the purposes of funding political activities; or

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.

Washington DC Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
West Virginia Employers may not

·         Require employees to donate money to political action committees as a condition of employment; or

·         Influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Wisconsin Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity; or

·         Influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Wyoming Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.

 

Does Your State Require Voting Leave?

With the 2016 Election under three weeks away (Tuesday, November 8, 2016), employers should anticipate that employees will request time off to vote. Depending on the state, an employer may be required to provide voting leave to an employee.

The below table shows which states provide voting leave and which states do not.

No Voting Leave Provided Unpaid Voting Leave Paid Voting Leave
·         Connecticut ·         Alabama ·         Alaska
·         Delaware ·         Arkansas ·         Arizona
·         Florida ·         Georgia ·         California
·         Idaho ·         Kentucky ·         Colorado
·         Indiana ·         Massachusetts ·         Hawaii
·         Louisiana ·         Mississippi ·         Illinois
·         Maine ·         New Mexico ·         Iowa
·         Michigan ·         North Dakota ·         Kansas
·         Montana ·         Ohio ·         Maryland
·         New Hampshire ·         Wisconsin ·         Minnesota
·         New Jersey   ·         Missouri
·         North Carolina   ·         Nebraska
·         Oregon   ·         Nevada
·         Pennsylvania   ·         New York
·         Rhode Island   ·         Oklahoma
·         South Carolina   ·         South Dakota
·         Vermont   ·         Tennessee
·         Virginia   ·         Texas
·         Washington   ·         Utah
·         Washington DC   ·         West Virginia
    ·         Wyoming

In states where voting leave is required, state law dictates the conditions under which voting leave must be provided, if at all. The laws also set forth the amount of time that an employee must receive for this type of leave. As demonstrated above, depending on the state, the leave may be paid or unpaid.

It is recommended that all employers check the voting leave laws in their states prior to election day and provide training to managerial employees on compliance with this law.

Mississippi Employers – Check Your Workplace Weapons Policies

A recent answer given by the Mississippi Supreme Court gives Mississippi employers reasons to review their policies regarding weapons on Company property.

In Swindol v. Aurora Flight Sciences Corp., a Mississippi employee had been terminated for parking his personal vehicle in the Company parking lot with his firearm locked inside the vehicle. When Management found out about the gun, the employee was terminated. The employee later filed a wrongful termination claim against the Company in federal court – claiming that the Company’s policy conflicted with a Mississippi state law that allowed employees to store handguns in a locked (personal) vehicle on an employer’s property.

The federal court sent a certified question to the Mississippi Supreme Court inquiring “Whether in Mississippi an employer may be liable for a wrongful discharge of an employee for storing a firearm in a locked vehicle on company property in a manner that is consistent with Section 45-9-55” (Mississippi’s law addressing the storage of firearms on an employer’s property).

The Mississippi Supreme Court responded that this statute can make an employer liable for wrongful discharge – which mean that the employee could proceed with his wrongful termination claim against the Company.

Take home for Mississippi employers

In light of this decision, Mississippi employers should review their policies regarding weapons on Company property and verify that those policies are in compliance with Mississippi law. Under Mississippi law, employers are generally prohibited from having a policy or rule that “has the effect of prohibiting a person from transporting or storing a firearm in a locked vehicle ….” If your company’s policy does not comply with Mississippi law, it is recommended that you revise your policy.

Minimum Wage Mid-Year Check-Up

With various cities and counties enacting local minimum wages and 4 states increasing their own minimum wages this summer, employers should take time to verify that they are meeting the minimum wage requirements of their state/city/county.

The below chart sets forth the minimum wage effective July 1, 2016.

 

Federal $7.25
State City County  Amount?
Alabama  $7.25
Alaska  $9.75
Arizona  $8.05
Arkansas  $8.00
California — all cities/counties except …  $10.00
Berkeley Alameda County  $11.00
El Cerrito* Contra Costa County  $11.60
Emeryville* Alameda County
small employer (55 or less) $13.00
large employer (56 or more) $14.82
Long Beach* LA County $10.50
large employer (26 or more)
Los Angeles* LA County $10.50
large employer (26 or more)
Mountain View Santa Clara County $11.00
Oakland Alameda County $12.55
Palo Alto Santa Clara County $11.00
Pasadena* LA County $10.50
large employer (26 or more)
Richmond Contra Costa County $11.52
San Diego San Diego County $10.50
San Francisco* SF County $13.00
San Jose Santa Clara County $10.30
Santa Clara Santa Clara County $11.00
Santa Monica* LA County $10.50
large employer (26 or more)
Sunnyvale* Santa Clara County $11.00
Los Angeles County* $10.50
large employer (26 or more)
Colorado $8.31
Connecticut $9.60
Delaware $8.25
Florida $8.05
Georgia $7.25
Hawaii   $8.50
Idaho $7.25
Illinois — all cities/counties except … $8.25
Chicago* $10.50
Indiana $7.25
Iowa — all cities/counties except … $7.25
Johnson County $9.15
Kansas $7.25
Kentucky — all cities/counties except … $7.25
Lexington Lexington-Fayette County $8.20
Louisville $8.25
Louisiana $7.25
Maine — all cities/counties except … $7.50
Portland $10.10
Maryland* — all cities/counties except … $8.75
Montgomery County $9.55
Prince George’s County $9.55
Massachusetts $10.00
Michigan $8.50
Minnesota “small employers” (employers with an annual sales volume of less than $500,000) $7.25
“large employers” (employers with an annual sales volume of $500,000+) $9.00
increases 8/1/2016 “small employers” (employers with an annual sales volume of less than $500,000) $7.75
“large employers” (employers with an annual sales volume of $500,000+) $9.50
Mississippi $7.25
Missouri $7.65
Montana $8.05
Nebraska $9.00
Nevada $8.25
New Hampshire $7.25
New Jersey $8.38
New Mexico — all cities/counties except … $7.50
Albuquerque $8.75
Las Cruces $8.40
Santa Fe $10.91
Bernalillo County $8.65
Santa Fe County $10.91
New York $9.00
North Carolina $7.25
North Dakota $7.25
Ohio $8.10
Oklahoma $7.25
Oregon* — all cities/counties except … $9.75
Portland* $9.75
Nonurban Counties* (Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klmath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa Wheeler counties) $9.50
Pennsylvania $7.25
Rhode Island $9.60
South Carolina $7.25
South Dakota $8.55
Tennessee $7.25
Texas $7.25
Utah $7.25
Vermont $9.60
Virginia $7.25
Washington — all cities/counties except … $9.67
City of SeaTac (hospitality and transportation workers) $15.00
Seattle $12.00
small employer (500 or less)
large employer (501 or more) $13.00
Tacoma $10.35
Washington DC* $11.50
West Virginia $8.75
Wisconsin $7.25
Wyoming $7.25
 * = increase in minimum wage effective July 1, 2016

 

Caveat: Please be advised that this information is being provided as a courtesy and that ePlace Solutions, Inc. does not track local laws and ordinances and will not update this information with changes in local laws and ordinances.

 

State of the Right to Bear Arms at Work in Mississippi

The Mississippi Supreme Court recently rendered a decision (Swindol v. Aurora Flight Services Corporation) that impacts an employer’s ability to forbid the firearms at the workplace.

In this case, the Company had a policy that prohibited employees from bringing guns onto Company property. This prohibition included an employee storing a gun in his/her vehicle when it was parked on Company property. The Company terminated the plaintiff after it learned that the employee had a gun stored in his car, which was parked in the Company’s general access parking lot.

Following his termination, the employee filed a lawsuit against the Company claiming that he was wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy. The public policy at issue – a Mississippi law (Mississippi Code Section 45-9-55) that prohibited employers from making and/or enforcing any policy that prohibits workers from transporting or storing a firearm in a locked vehicle in any parking lot, parking garage, or other designated area.

While Mississippi’s does not recognize a general cause of action for wrongful termination, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that Mississippi Code Section 45-9-55 provided a legislatively created exception to the employment at-will doctrine. As a result, the plaintiff was able to proceed with his lawsuit.

What is the impact on Mississippi employers?

The ruling does not eliminate an employer’s ability to restrict firearms in the workplace. Instead, it sets forth limited circumstances when employers make take actions limiting guns at work. Employers may restrict firearms in vehicles under the following circumstances:

  1. If an employer has a restricted access parkng lot (i.e. access is limited by a gate or a security station), then the employer may still maintain and enforce a “no firearms” in vehicles policy;
  2. Employers may prohibit the transportation or storage of firearms in company vehicles; and
  3. Employees may not transport or store a firearm on any premises where the possession of a firearm is prohibited by state or federal law.

Employers who wish to limit firearms at work should check their policies and see if they can rely on any of these exemptions.

The Boss Is Not Alone, Pennsylvania Governor Also Responds To Recent North Carolina And Mississippi Laws

On April 8, 2016, Bruce Springsteen (aka “The Boss”) issued a statement cancelling his Sunday, April 10, 2016 concert in Greensboro, North Carolina in protest to North Carolina’s recent enactment of the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2), which dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use in public buildings.

Well, the Boss is not alone in his protest. On April 7, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed two anti-discrimination executive orders related to the rights of transgender people. In a statement released on April 6th, the Governor’s office made it clear that these orders were in response to the North Carolina and Mississippi laws, saying that “What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now.” (For our previous discussion on the North Carolina and Mississippi laws, please see “Does North Carolina’s New Public Facilities Law Impact Private Employers?” and “Impact of Mississippi’s New Religious Freedom Law on Mississippi Employers”)

The first (Executive Order: 2016-04 – Equal Employment Opportunity) bans discrimination against employees or job applicants based on gender expression or identity in addition to the other protected categories set forth in the order (race, color, religious creed, ancestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability.

The second (Executive Order 2016-05 – Contract Compliance) requires any company that has a contract with the state to eliminate discrimination in hiring employees and requires the companies to treat them fairly.

Employers doing business in Pennsylvania should review their policies and practices verify that they are not discriminating against applicants/employees on the basis of gender identity.

Impact of Mississippi’s New Religious Freedom Law on Mississippi Employers

On April 5, 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 (the “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act”) into law. This new law will go into effect on July 1, 2016.

Under the guise of protecting a Mississippi citizen’s religious freedom from government intrusion, this law protects religious organizations, persons, and public employees from legal liability if they act on these three sincerely held religious beliefs:

  1. That marriage should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
  2. That sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage; and
  3. That an individual’s sex is determined by anatomy and genetics at birth.

What are religious organization and persons for purposes of this law?

Both “religious organization” and “person” are broadly defined under this new law.

The term “religious organizations” is defined to include houses of worship; religious groups, corporations, associations and schools; and the owners or employees of those entities.

The term “person” spans from natural persons to religious organizations, and includes companies and similar business entities that harbor any of the above-mentioned sincerely held religious beliefs.

What is the impact on private employers?

Under the new law, the state will not take any “discriminatory action” (which includes assessing a monetary fine, fee, penalty or injunction) against a person who establishes sex-specific standards or policies concerning:

  1. Employee dress or grooming, or
  2. Access to restrooms, spas, baths, showers, dressing rooms, locker rooms, or other intimate facilities or settings.

In light of this new law, one may think that Mississippi employers can allow their personal religious beliefs to motivate certain employment decisions and avoid a discrimination claim. Well think again.

While justifying a discriminatory action (like taking an adverse action against employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or because of an employee’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy; or mandating restroom use based on one’s biological sex) based on sincerely held religious beliefs might shield a Mississippi employer from a discrimination claim under state law, Mississippi employers are still required to comply with federal employment laws.

For example, Title VII (applies to employers with 15+ employees) prohibits discrimination on the basis of one’s sex, which has been interpreted by the EEOC and several federal courts to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Therefore, taking an adverse action against an employee because of his/her sexual orientation or gender identity or implementing a policy that discriminates against a transgender person would violate Title VII.

It is recommended that employers evaluate whether a decision/policy will violate federal law and consult with an HR Professional or competent legal counsel before making an employment decision in reliance on Mississippi’s new religious freedom law.

ADA: No Nexus Required Between Requested Accommodation and Essential Functions of Job

The Fifth Ciruit Court of Appeals held that an employee does not need to show a nexus between their request for a reasonable accommodation and their ability to perform the essential functions of their job.  Under the ADA, a reasonable accommodation may include: “(A) making existing facilities used by employees readily accessibleto and usable by individuals with disabilities…”  Accordingly, the court found that an employee’s request for a free on-site parking space to accommodate her disability should not have been dismissed simply because it was not related to her ability to perform the essential functions of her job..  The court did not decide whether the requested accommodation was reasonable: the lower court will have to make that determination.