California is the land of employment legislation, and 2018 is shaping up to be another year of change. We are less than six months into the year, and already several bills that could significantly impact California businesses—for better or for worse—are pending in the California legislature.
A magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon recently made findings and recommendations to dismiss a purported class action against Kroger subsidiary Fred Meyer. The suit alleges that the retailer’s background check process for prospective employees violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act by both failing to properly disclose that a report will be run, and failing to comply with the statute’s procedural requirements before taking adverse action against an applicant.
On November 10, 2017, the New York Department of Labor released a set of proposed regulations affecting the Minimum Wage Order for Miscellaneous Industries and Occupations, which applies to most employers, except hotels and restaurants. The regulations propose the following call-in pay requirements for employers:
- Reporting to work. An employee who, by request or permission of the employer, reports for work on any shift must be paid for at least four hours of call-in pay.
- Unscheduled shift. An employee who, by request or permission of the employer, reports to work for any shift for hours that have not been scheduled at least 14 days in advance of the shift must be paid an additional two hours of call-in pay.
- Cancelled shift. An employee whose shift is cancelled within 72 hours of the scheduled start of such shift must be paid for at least four hours of call-in pay.
- On-call. An employee who, by request or permission of the employer, is required to be available to report to work for any shift must be paid for at least four hours of call-in pay.
- Call for schedule. An employee who, by request or permission of the employer, is required to be in contact with the employer within 72 hours of start of the shift to confirm whether to report to work must be paid for at least four hours of call-in pay.
On March 6, 2017, an NLRB administrative law judge (“ALJ”) issued a ruling finding that a nonunion automotive manufacturing facility in Alabama violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) when it terminated three employees who walked off the job over a holiday-season scheduling dispute. The ALJ found that the employees were engaged in protected concerted activity despite the fact that they denied discussing the decision to leave work before their shifts had ended.
Beginning next week, on March 13, 2017, San Jose employers must offer existing part-time employees additional work hours before hiring any temporary, part-time, or new worker. This is a result of a vote last fall by voters in San Jose, California who approved “The Opportunity to Work Ordinance” (Ordinance No. 2016.1, codified at Chapter 4.101 of the San Jose Municipal Code) – a local measure that directs employee hours and hiring practices.
San Jose’s Office of Equality Assurance, the local agency tasked with monitoring, investigating, and enforcing the Ordinance, recently issued its Opportunity to Work FAQs, which provides additional guidance on how employers can comply with the new ordinance. Following more comprehensive scheduling ordinances passed in San Francisco and Emeryville last year, San Jose is the third northern California city to enact a scheduling ordinance.
With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, employers should be mindful of state blue laws, which sometimes require premium pay to hourly employees working on Sundays or holidays. Although most state laws, as well as federal law, do not require premium pay for work performed on holidays (unless, of course, the employee has worked more than 40 hours that week), there are a few exceptions, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The issue of religious background has generated substantial discussion during the current election cycle. Recently, the federal government highlighted the issue of religious discrimination and accommodation in the workplace.
On July 22, 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced the release of a one-page fact sheet specifically designed to educate young workers of their rights and responsibilities under the federal employment anti-discrimination laws prohibiting religious discrimination. The fact sheet stresses that employers may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of religion, and notes that employees have a right to ask that certain workplace accommodations be made to respect their religious preferences. Also outlined by the sheet are various examples of proper and improper employment practices under federal law. The fact sheet encourages employees to report suspected religious-based discrimination.
In December 2014, the New York Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation into Jimmy John’s corporate office and its New York franchises. Jimmy John’s is a sandwich shop with franchises throughout New York and the United States. The investigation in New York concerned whether the use of a non-compete clause that barred departing employees from taking a job with any employer within two miles of a Jimmy John’s store that made more than 10 percent of its revenue from sandwiches was legal.
On January 19, 2011, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in National Aeronautics and Space Administration v. Nelson, finding that questions contained in background checks NASA conducted on independent contractors are reasonable, employment-related inquiries that further the government’s interests in managing its internal operations. Stating that “[t]he challenged portions of the forms consist of reasonable inquiries in an employment background check,” the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit decision that the questions NASA asked of the contractors invaded their privacy.
On December 21, 2010, the NLRB issued a press release and fact sheet announcing its intention to publish in the Federal Register a proposed “rule” requiring virtually all private sector employers to post in the workplace a Notice to employees outlining their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The proposed poster was published in the Federal Register on December 22, 2010. Interested parties will have sixty (60) days from December 22nd to respond with comments regarding the proposed rule.