Legislative (Federal and State) Developments

On December 17, 2019, the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 was signed by the President as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.  This federal “ban-the-box” law proscribes federal agencies and contractors from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until after they make a conditional offer of employment.
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In the last days of 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that bans employers from discriminating against employees based on hairstyles that are associated with race. In doing so, New Jersey joined New York and California—both of which enacted similar legislation earlier in 2019—in prohibiting hair discrimination in the workplace.
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The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing recently updated its Sexual Harassment Prevention Training FAQ guidance to address some of the questions surrounding SB 1343, which requires employers with five or more employees to provide classroom or “other interactive training” for all California employees (not just supervisors) every two years
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New York joins a handful of other states when its broad prohibition on employer inquiries into applicants’ prior wage or salary information takes place today, January 6, 2020.  As detailed in our previous alert on this issue, New York previously had expansive pay equity laws in effect for public employers, but the new law expands the prohibition to private employers throughout the state.
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On December 6, 2019, a coalition of both national and state business organizations and trade associations filed a Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.  The lawsuit seeks both a preliminary and permanent injunction against implementation and enforcement of the recently enacted California law that makes it unlawful for California employers to require employees to sign arbitration agreements, under certain circumstances.
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Imagine a future in which Artificial Intelligence does the recruiting and hiring at U.S. companies.  Every new hire will be the uniquely perfect candidate whose skills, personality, presence, temperament, and work habits are a flawless match for the job.  Performance management and poor performance become extinct, relics from an age in which humans brought primitive instincts, biases, and flawed intuition to hiring and employment decisions.
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Earlier this year, we wrote about a proposed bill in California, AB 51, which would prevent employers from requiring their employees to bring all employment-related claims, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour claims, in arbitration instead of state or federal court.  Earlier this month, Governor Newsom signed AB 51 into law.
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This month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed several employment-related bills into law. The laws go into effect January 1, 2020, and include an extension to the deadline to file certain state discrimination claims and address harassment training and prevention, as well as mandatory arbitration agreements.
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The IRS has issued final regulations amending the hardship distribution rules for qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) and 403(b) plans, as well as for 457(b) plans. The final regulations are substantially similar to the proposed regulations that were issued in November 2018, but provide a few clarifications.  Plans that have been complying with the proposed regulations will satisfy the final regulations.
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