Legal Trends Employers Should Watch (2019)

Can Men and Women Really Work Together?
Can Men and Women Really Work Together?
July 15, 2019
“The Times They are A Changin’…”
“The Times They are A Changin’…”
August 5, 2019

“Change is the only constant in life” … and in employment law.  Employers are not only required to stay up to date and in compliance with federal legislation, but also to monitor and follow state and local regulations.  For companies with employees in multiple states or municipalities, this means ensuring that policies and practices are legally-sound and consistent throughout all jurisdictions.  Here are just a few of the legal trends (as of July 2019) that employers should be monitoring:

  • Criminal history questions – 35 states and 150 municipalities have already “banned the box” on employment applications so that employers consider an applicant’s qualifications first without the stigma of a conviction or arrest record.
  • Higher minimum wage – 29 states and 40 local governments already have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal requirement; the House of Representatives recently passed legislation to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00 per hour by 2025 (not expected to be approved by the Senate).
  • Salary history questions – 8 states and 12 municipalities have passed legislation to prohibit employers from asking about salary history during the interview process; the Paycheck Fairness Act (passed by the House in March 2019, unlikely to be approved by the Senate) would make it illegal to ask for salary history and to make sure men and women are paid equally.
  • Paid sick leave – 11 states and 20 municipalities currently require employers to provide paid time off for employees’ health care needs, however these laws vary greatly as to which employers are impacted and how paid time is funded.
  • Medical and/or recreational marijuana – 33 states have approved medical marijuana, 10 states have also approved recreational use of marijuana; however marijuana use is still illegal under federal law. Employers may still prohibit employees from coming to work impaired by marijuana and do not have to allow medical marijuana use in the workplace.
  • Harassment prevention training – 5 states and New York City have mandated harassment prevention training for all employees, with additional training required for supervisors.
  • LGBTQ discrimination – 22 states and many local governments (including New Orleans and Shreveport) have enacted legal prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

Whether or not your company operates in a state or municipality that has enacted any of these legal requirements, it is important to constantly stay vigilant to make sure that company policies and procedures are up to date and competitive with organizations that are similar to yours. Legal changes in other states or municipalities may be an indication of legislation that will soon be enacted in your jurisdiction.

An HR professional can help you with all of your human resources needs, from hiring the right employees, running background checks, creating employee handbooks that include anti-harassment policies and procedures, managing employee performance, staying legally compliant, automating employee records, and anything else you need to create an environment where employees can provide the services that you need to run your business.