Tag Archives: Rhode Island

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.

 

 

NEW LAW – Rhode Island Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law

On September 28, 2017, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act (H5413) into law.  This new law requires most Rhode Island employers provide paid sick leave to their employees.

Starting July 1, 2018, Rhode Island employers who employ 18 or more employees will be required to start providing employees with paid sick leave.

With the enactment of the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act, Rhode Island joins Oregon, California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington, and Connecticut as states that provide paid sick leave to employees. (Washington DC and numerous cities in the US also require employers to provide paid sick leave benefits).

Who is covered by the Rhode Island Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act?

All Rhode Island employers who employ 18 or more employees will be required to provide employees with paid sick leave.

Are any employees excluded from paid sick leave?

While the law generally covers all employees, the following types of employees are excluded from coverage:

  • Individuals not considered employees under the Rhode Island Minimum Wage Act (e.g., outside salespeople, golf caddies, certain seasonal resort employees);
  • Independent contractors;
  • Subcontractors;
  • Federal work-study participants; and
  • Licensed nurses employed by a health care facility on a per diem basis.

How much paid sick leave must be provided?

Starting July 1, 2018, eligible employees of Rhode Island employers will start accruing paid sick leave. Paid sick leave benefits will accrue at a rate of 1 hour for every 35 hours worked by the employee. For new employees, accrual begins on the first day of employment.

For the first three years of paid sick leave, the minimum amount of paid sick leave employees must be allowed to accrue (and use) per year increases as follows:

  • 2018 – employees must be allowed to accrue 24 hours per year
  • 2019 – employees must be allowed to accrue 32 hours per year
  • 2020 (and beyond) – employees must be allowed to accrue 40 hours per year

Instead of tracking annual accrual, employers will be allowed to “frontload” an employee’s paid sick leave allotment on either a monthly or annual basis (i.e. provide an employee with the full sick leave allotment at the start of the year or a proportional amount at the start of the month).

When the accrual method is used, accrued but unused leave must be carried over to the following year.  If paid sick leave is frontloaded, then employers do not have to allow employees to carryover unused, accrued paid sick leave.

When are employees eligible to use paid sick leave?

The new sick leave law imposes a 90-calendar day waiting period before a newly hired employee can use paid sick leave benefits. This means that for employees who have been employed by the employer for more than 90 days as of July 1, 2018, those employees will be eligible to use their paid sick leave benefits as those benefits are accrued.

The law also imposes a 150-calendar day waiting period before seasonal employees (those hired into a position for which the customary annual employment is six months or less) can use paid sick leave benefits and a 180-calendar day waiting period before temporary employees (those working for, or obtaining employment per an agreement with, any employment agency, placement service, or training school or center) can use paid sick leave benefits.

What can paid sick leave be used for?

Under the new law, an employee will be able to use his/her paid sick leave benefits for the following purposes:

  • An employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • An employee’s need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • An employee’s need for preventive medical care;
  • Care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • Care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • Care of a family member who needs preventive medical care;
  • Closure of the employee’s place of business by order of a public official due to a public health emergency
  • An employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency,
  • Care for oneself or a family member when it has been determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider that the employee’s or family member’s presence in the community may jeopardize the health of others because of their exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the employee or family member has actually contracted the communicable disease; or
  • Time off needed when the employee or a member of the employee’s family is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Under the law, family member is defined as the employee’s

  • Child (biological, adopted, or foster son or daughter, a stepson or stepdaughter, a legal ward, a son or daughter of a domestic partner, or a son or daughter of an employee who stands in loco parentis to that child),
  • Parent (biological, foster, or adoptive parent, a stepparent, a legal guardian, or other person who stands in loco parentis to the employee or the employee’s spouse or domestic partner when he/she was a child),
  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Parent-in-law” (the parent of the employee’s spouse or domestic partner),
  • Grandparent (parent of the employee’s parent),
  • Grandchildren
  • Sibling (brother or a sister, whether related through half blood, whole blood or adoption, a foster sibling, or a step-sibling),
  • Care recipient, or
  • Member of the employee’s household.

What are the employee’s notice requirements before using paid sick leave?

When the use of paid sick leave is foreseeable, employees are required to provide notice of the need for such time to the employer in advance of the use of the paid sick leave.  Employees are also required to make a reasonable effort to schedule the use of paid sick leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.

When the use of paid sick leave is not foreseeable, employers may develop a written policy that contains procedures for the employee to provide notice of his/her need to use paid sick leave. However, an employer that has not provided to the employee a copy of its written policy for providing such notice shall not deny earned paid sick leave to the employee based on non-compliance with such a policy.

Can employers require that employees provide documentation verifying their need for paid sick leave?

Yes, for absences exceeding three days, an employer may require verification that an employee’s use of paid sick leave is for an authorized purpose if the employer has notified the employee in writing of this requirement in advance of the employee’s use of paid sick leave. An employer may not require that the documentation explain the nature of the illness or the details of the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking unless required by existing government regulation or law.

Finally, an employer may require written documentation for an employee’s use of earned sick time that occurs within two (2) weeks prior to an employee’s final scheduled day of work before termination of employment.

What type of documentation is considered “reasonable documentation”?

For paid sick leave absences not relating to domestic violence, “reasonable documentation” is any documentation signed by a health care professional indicating that paid sick leave time is necessary.

For paid sick leave absences relating to domestic violence, “reasonable documentation” is any one of the following:

  • An employee’s written statement that the employee or the employee’s family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and that the leave taken was for that purpose;
  • A police report indicating that the employee or employee’s family member was a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
  • A court document indicating that the employee or employee’s family member is involved in legal action related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or
  • A signed statement from a victim and witness advocate affirming that the employee or employee’s family member is receiving services from a victim services organization or is involved in legal action related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Are employers required to pay out unused paid sick leave at termination of employment?

No, employers are not required to pay out unused, accrued paid sick leave at termination of employment.  However, if an employee is rehired within 135 days of separation by the same employer, previously accrued paid sick and safe leave time that had not been used must be reinstated.

What should Rhode Island employers do to prepare for the new law?

Rhode Island’s new Paid Sick Leave Law goes into effect on July 1, 2018. In order to prepare for this new law, employers should prepare paid sick leave policies and plan to include those policies in their 2018 Employee Handbook. In addition, employers with existing sick leave or PTO policies should check their policies to verify that they are compliant with this new law. We will keep you posted about this law as it draws closer to the effective date.

 

NEW LAW – Rhode Island’s Minimum wage to increase January 1, 2018

Rhode Island employers, mark your calendars.  On January 1, 2018, Rhode Island’s minimum wage will increase from $9.60 per hour to $10.10 per hour.

This increase will be followed by another increase on January 1, 2019 from $10.10 per hour to $10.50 per hour.

The minimum wage rate for tipped employees will remain the same at $3.89 per hour.

It is recommended that all Rhode Island employers prepare for these increases.

New Medical Marijuana Case Impacts Rhode Island Employers

In a recent decision (Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Corp.), the Rhode Island Supreme Court has held that under Rhode Island law, an employer cannot refuse to hire a medical marijuana cardholder, even if the applicant admits during the interview that he/she will not be able to pass the employer’s mandatory pre-employment drug test.

The Case

In this case, the plaintiff had applied for a paid internship with Darlington Fabrics. During a meeting with the company’s Human Resources Coordinator, she informed the Human Resources Coordinator that she had a medical marijuana card. At this meeting, the plaintiff also signed Darlington’s Fitness for Duty Statement, acknowledging she would have to take a drug test prior to being hired.

In a subsequent conversation with the Human Resources Coordinator, the plaintiff was asked if she was currently using medical marijuana and the plaintiff responded “Yes.” The plaintiff then indicated that because of her medical marijuana use, she would test positive on her pre-employment drug screening.

In response, the Human Resources Coordinator informed the plaintiff that a positive drug test would “prevent the Company from hiring her.” The plaintiff then told the Human Resources Coordinator that she was allergic to many other painkillers and that she would neither use marijuana in or bring it to the workplace.

 

Following that conversation, the Human Resources Coordinator called the plaintiff and told her that the company was “unable to hire her.” The plaintiff sued the company under the Rhode Island medical marijuana law, the Hawkins-Slater Act, as well as the state’s disability discrimination statute, for refusing to hire her.

 

The Court’s Ruling

The ruling in this case centered on the Court’s interpretation of two separate provisions of the Hawkins-Slater Act:

“No school, employer, or landlord may refuse to enroll, employ, or lease to, or otherwise penalize, a person solely for his or her status as a cardholder.” 

and

“Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require … [a]n employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.”

Based on the above-quoted language, the Court found that the statute does, in some way, require employers to accommodate the medical use of marijuana outside the workplace. Specifically, the Court found that the Hawkins-Slater Act prohibits employers both from refusing to employ a person for his or her status as a cardholder, and also from refusing to hire an applicant because of his/her use of medical marijuana.

In practical application, the Court believed that by finding the action the company took (rejecting an applicant because she would be unable to pass the pre-employment drug test due to her medical marijuana use) was lawful, such a finding would void the protections afforded to medical marijuana users under the law because a patient who, by virtue of his or her condition, has to use medical marijuana once or twice a week in a worse position than a recreational user. The recreational user could cease smoking long enough to pass the drug test and get hired, and subsequently not be subject to future drug tests, allowing him or her to smoke recreationally to his or her heart’s content. The medical user, however, would not be able to cease for long enough to pass the drug test, even though his or her use is necessary to “treat or alleviate pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions.”

With respect to the plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim, the court held that discrimination could be shown “against a class of disabled people — namely, those people with disabilities best treated by medical marijuana.” It also held that medical marijuana users are able to bring a state law disability discrimination claim, despite that: (1) the law disclaims protections to those who seek remedies based on his or her illegal drug use; and (2) marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Take home for employers

This new holding complicates things for Rhode Island employers who conduct drug testing for marijuana. An employee’s off-duty use of medical marijuana may cause the employee to test positive on a workplace drug test because marijuana may stay in the fatty tissues of the body for weeks. Rhode Island employers who conduct any form of drug need to consider the marijuana laws affecting their workplaces and how they will handle the question before an actual issue arises.

DOL Partnership regarding worker misclassification — 34 States and Counting

Thirty-five states have agreed to “team up” with the US Department of Labor to investigate worker misclassification. Is your state one of them?

In 2015, Department of Labor launched an initiative to combat the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. As a part of this initiative, the Department of Labor sought to partner with the state agencies and agree to share information and conduct joint investigations regarding independent contractor misclassification. To date, 35 states have entered into a memorandum of understanding regarding worker misclassification issues.

These states are:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

What does this mean for employers in these states?

Employers in the above-listed states should expect collaborative efforts between their state agencies and the Department of Labor during a investigation into potential employee misclassification as the state and the Department of Labor will share information. This could lead to simultaneous, multi-agency investigations into worker classification. It is recommended that companies have qualified legal counsel review any existing independent contractor arrangements. In addition, before entering into an independent contractor relationship, speak with an HR Professional or qualified legal counsel to verify that the worker truly is an independent contractor.

New Law Governing Physician Non-Compete Agreements in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo recently signed House Bill No. 7586 into law. The new law significantly restricts the use of physician non-compete agreements.

Under existing Rhode Island law, a non-competition agreement is valid and enforceable only if it meets the following:

  • The restriction is reasonable, which depends on an examination of the restrictions in light of the employer’s protectable interest.
  • There is a legitimate interest that the restriction was designed to protect.
  • The restriction is ancillary to the employment relationship.
  • Adequate consideration was given for the restriction.

However, under the new law, physician non-compete agreements are unenforceable. This means that any provision in a physician agreement that restricts the right of the licensed physician to practice medicine is unlawful including provisions that:

  • Restricts the right of the licensed physician to practice medicine in a specified geographic area for any period of time;
  • Restricts the right of the licensed physician to provide treatment, advise, consult with, or establish a physician/patient relationship, with any current patient of the employer; and
  • Restricts the right of the licensed physician to solicit or seek to establish a physician/patient relationship with any current patient of the employer

This prohibition does not extend to a non-compete agreement that is made in connection with the purchase and sale of a physician practice, provided the restrictive covenant is for a period of a time of no more than five (5) years.

Recommended Action

The new Physician Non-Compete Agreement law went into effect on July 12, 2016. In light of these new restrictions, employers should make sure that any physician agreements entered into, amended, or renewed on or after July 12, 2016, comply with the new law. In addition, the law is silent as to whether any of its provisions are retroactive on existing agreements. Employers should consult with qualified legal counsel to determine whether amending existing physician agreements would be advisable.

 

Deadline Nears For Rhode Island Employers To Provide Notice Of Pregnancy Discrimination Protection

On July 25, 2015, Rhode Island amended its Fair Employment Practices Act to include new protections for pregnancy, childbirth, and/or related medical conditions. Under the new law, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. These reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to frequent or longer breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, appropriate seating, less strenuous duties, break time with a private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, and a modified work schedule. If requested by the employee, a leave of absence may also be considered a reasonable accommodation, but employers are not permitted to require an employee to take a leave of absence from work if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.

While this new law went into effect immediately, important to Rhode Island employers at this time is the new notice posting requirements set forth in the new law. Specifically, the new law requires employers post and provide notice of the law’s protections: (i) to all new employees at the start of their employment, (ii) within 10 days of any employee notifying her employer of her pregnancy, and (iii) to all current employees on or before October 23, 2015.

With the deadline to provide notice of the new law’s protections to all current employees rapidly approaching, it is important that Rhode Island employers ensure that they will comply with the new posting requirements before the October 23, 2015 deadline. A copy of the poster developed by the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights is available here and may be used to notify employees of their rights.

Rhode Island – New Pregnancy Accommodation Law

Effective immediately, Rhode Island employers must accommodate pregnant employees.

The law makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to reasonably accommodate an employee’s – or prospective employee’s – limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition.  A “related condition” is defined to include, but is not limited to, expressing breast milk for a nursing child.  The new law also makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to require an employee to take a leave of absence if another reasonable accommodation can be provided, or to deny employment opportunities based on the employer’s refusal to reasonably accommodate pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.  The new law also obligates employers to provide written notice of these rights to new employees at the commencement of their employment, to existing employees within 120 days of June 25, 2015, and to any employee who notifies the employer of her pregnancy within 10 days of such notice. https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/rhode-island-enacts-legislation-requiring-accommodations-pregnant.

Rhode Island employers must display the new related poster, available here.

Rhode Island Enacts Social Media Privacy Law

The “2014 Student and Employee Social Media Privacy” acts prohibit both employers and educations institutions from asking or requiring employees, job applicants, students or prospective students to provide log-in information or to sign into their social media accounts.

Employers

The law provides:

  • No employer is permitted to require, request, suggest or cause an employee or applicant to disclose personal social media information.
  • No employer may compel an applicant to add anyone, including the employer or agent, to the applicant’s list of contacts associated with the social media account.
  • Employers are prohibited from discharging, disciplining or otherwise penalizing any employee for refusing to divulge social media information.

Exception

The law does not apply to information about an applicant or employee that is publicly available.