IL Likely to Amend Civil Rights Laws to Address Hairstyles

IL Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign a bill into law that creates a definition of “race” under the Illinois Human Rights Act to include “traits associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.” The law is known as the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act. IL joins 13 other states with similar laws, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington. You may want to check your EEO policies for compliance!

NYC Provides Guidance on Pay Transparency Law

Beginning May 15, 2022 (unless delayed by pending legislation), employers in NYC will be required to disclose pay ranges when advertising job postings. In preparation for the law going into effect, the New York City Commission on Human Rights recently published a fact sheet providing guidance with regard to Local Law 32 of 2022 . In short the law requires all covered employers to include a minimum and a maximum salary in any advertisement for a job, promotion, or transfer opportunity.

NJ Looking At Updating Poster Delivery Methods

On March 21, 2022, the NJ Division on Civil Rights (DCR) issued proposed regulations that would allow compliance with the state’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and Family Leave Act (NJFLA) poster requirements by delivery via an internet or intranet site vs. a physical bulletin board. The proposed rules say that “[i]n the event that an employer has an internet site or intranet site for use by its employees to which all employees have access and the employer customarily posts notices to affected employees or other affected individuals electronically on the site, posting of the official [LAD and NJFLA] poster[s]” will satisfy the posting obligation.

The proposed regs also would require that posters be provided to each employee “(1) [a]nnually, on or before December 31 of each year; and (2) [u]pon the first request of an employee.” An employer may use the following methods to update: “(1) [b]y email delivery; (2) [t]hrough printed material, including, but not limited to, paycheck inserts; brochure or similar informational packet provided to new hires; an attachment to an employee manual or policy book; or flyer distributed at an employee meeting; or (3) [t]hrough an internet or intranet website, if the site is for the use of all employees, can be accessed by all employees, and the employer provides notice to the employees of its posting.”

Don’t Be Late in Paying Wages in MA

In a recent case, (Reuter v. City of Methuen), the MA Supreme Judicial Court clarified that paying outstanding wages before the employee files suit does not save the employer from what is now the absolutely automatic penalty of treble damages, interest, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Historically, courts would not assess the penalties if the employer paid the tardy wages prior to the employee filing a lawsuit. This case now confirms that if an employer pays employees a day late, it is liable for treble damages under the Massachusetts Wage Act (except for voluntarily terminations, where payment can be made on the next regular payday).

MD Adopts Family Leave Over Gov. Veto

MD will soon require that employers provide up to 12 weeks of benefits for employees who take leave to care for family members, their own health condition or a qualifying event due to a family member’s military deployment. The program also gives self-employed individuals the ability to participate. The weekly benefit is based on an individual’s average weekly wage and ranges from $50 to a $1,000 cap indexed to inflation.

Now, the MD DOL develop regulations by June 1, 2023, which includes establishing a paid leave fund that collects contributions from employers and employees based on wages.

Maryland joins California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, Connecticut, Colorado and Oregon and DC as states has a paid leave program.

WA Updates Family Leave Law

Effective June 9, 2022, the WA  Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Act will be amended to include the following:

  1. During the six-week postnatal period, an employee who is eligible for benefits based on incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care will count as paid medical leave unless the employee chooses to use paid family leave during that period.  However, an employee does not need to obtain certification of a serious health condition. 
  2. Paid family leave may now be used for bereavement purposes during the seven calendar days after the death of a qualifying family member.  This leave is permitted for the death of a family member for whom the employee (1) would have qualified for medical leave for the birth of their child, or (2) would have qualified for family leave to bond with their child following their birth or placement.
  3. The Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) is required to publish on its website a current list of all employers that run their own “voluntary plan” that was approved by ESD.
  4. Currently, this law does not apply to an employee who was subject to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that was in existence on October 19, 2017, until the CBA was reopened, was renegotiated, or expired.  The law now applies to CBAs that expire by December 31, 2023.

GA Statutorily Defines Employee and Contractor

H.B. 389 updates the definition of employment to include services performed by an individual for wages. It also includes an exception to the definition of employment for some music industry professionals and network companies under certain conditions. The GA DOL will now look at the “totality of circumstances” to consider whether an individual:

(i) Is not prohibited from working for other companies or holding other employment contemporaneously;

(ii) Is free to accept or reject work assignments without consequence;

(iii) Is not prescribed minimum hours to work or, in the case of sales, does not have a minimum number of orders to be obtained;

(iv) Has the discretion to set his or her own work schedule;

(v) Receives only minimal instructions and no direct oversight or supervision regarding the services to be performed, such as the location where the services are to be performed and any requested deadlines;

(vi) When applicable, has no territorial or geographic restrictions; and

(vii) Is not required to perform, behave, or act or, alternatively, is compelled to perform, behave, or act in a manner related to the performance of services for wages which is determined by the Commissioner to demonstrate employment.

Written by: Gordon M. Berger, Partner

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