State and Local Activity: Wave of State and Local Measures to Continue

January 05, 2018

In 2018, former Speaker Tip O’Neill's axiom “all politics is local” is likely to be truer than ever.  Cities, counties, and states will continue to advance legislation and enact laws on many issues important to employers.  The HR Policy State And Local Network, assisted by Littler's Workplace Policy Institute, will continue to follow developments on issues such as paid leave, equal pay, and predictive scheduling as we also expect sexual harassment issues to remain prevalent.  Most state legislatures adjourned for the holidays but will hit the ground running in January.  We will continue to monitor these hot topics at the state and local levels and will keep you posted on any notable developments as 2018 unfolds. Some of the most active states are highlighted below.

New York  Just after Thanksgiving, a new law restricting retail and fast food employers’ ability to draw up schedules for employees went into effect in the Big Apple.  In the meantime, state legislators are looking to limit the scheduling of on-call shifts for retail, financial services, healthcare, and construction.  In addition, Albany County, New York, recently limited inquiries into salary history.  
 
Illinois and Florida Both states are considering salary history bans, with Illinois nearly passing one last year.
 
Massachusetts  Advocates are taking a two-pronged attack to advance protected paid leave, with three bills and one ballot question in play.  Each gives the right to employees and self-employed individuals to receive paid family and paid medical leave.  The ballot question would form an insurance program funded by businesses, which will pay 0.63 percent of a worker’s wages, paying 90 percent of an employee’s weekly wage up to $1000.  Meanwhile, a predictive scheduling bill requiring seven-day notice of schedules, among other things, advanced to committee.
 
Paid Leave Initiatives Massachusetts is not the only state considering new paid leave rights. The Pennsylvania legislature will be evaluating a paid parental leave bill in 2018, granting employees at least 12 weeks of leave upon the birth, adoption, or placement of a child. A Maine proposal is currently in committee and would create a paid family medical leave program applicable to businesses with at least 15 employees. Michigan lawmakers, meanwhile, are considering a package of five bills aimed at protecting employees who are victims of domestic violence. For example, those bills would require employers offering sick leave to employees to allow victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking to use that sick time to get help or receive services. In Texas, the City of Austin is exploring a paid sick leave ordinance.
 
California It just would not be a state and local report without an update from California.  While Governor Brown vetoed legislation to require disclosure of gender pay differences in organizations with more than 500 employees, rest assured the bill’s State Senate Assembly sponsors have already announced plans to reintroduce their legislation.  Another proposal under review would extend workers’ compensation benefits to employees who worked less than 52 hours in a year. It further clarifies that employees are covered for workers’ comp regardless of their immigration status.  On another note, California lawmakers will consider an “opportunity to work” bill in 2018, which requires employers with 10 or more workers to offer additional hours of work to existing staff before hiring new employees or subcontractors. 
 
Sexual Harassment California is also expected to attempt legislation in light of the wave of high-profile sexual harassment allegations.  Sexual harassment has been unlawful for decades, but states are looking for new approaches to help alleviate ongoing harassment in the workplace.  Word is that the California legislature may propose a bill that would restrict the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) for harassment settlements.  Employees who have settled thus could not be prohibited from going public with their allegations.  New York may pursue a similar measure, while Pennsylvania and New Jersey already introduced bills limiting NDAs in this context.  In addition, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) recently announced he will propose legislation to void forced arbitration policies that prevent sexual harassment cases from being brought in courts, and a bill to require that companies that do business with the state disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications and nondisclosure agreements they have executed each year.