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Regulatory Watch: Weekly recap of retail-related legislative, judicial developments


New Jersey - Several local mayors and other policymakers, citing the recent entry-level pay raise announcement from Amazon, are calling on the state to move ahead with plans to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr.

Washington - The state labor department released a draft rule this week that if finalized, amends the rules relating to overtime pay for workers in the state. The proposal calls for increasing the salary threshold to as much as $75,000/yr and is open for public comment until Oct. 26.

Anaheim, CA - This week Disneyland Resort announced that it is canceling its Anaheim luxury hotel, blaming the city’s unstable business environment. Months ago, local hotel unions threatened to place a $15/hr measure on the ballot targeting the hotel (limited to tax subsidy recipients) in an effort to gain concessions from the theme park. When Disneyland held firm, the union advanced the measure to the ballot. In response, the theme park announced it would not accept city subsidies but a debate continued over the applicability of the requirement.

Jackson, MS - The Magnolia Mothers Trust, a local non-profit group, will administer a guaranteed income program (often referred to as a universal basic income) on a trial basis for a limited number of low-income families in the city. Funding for the program comes from private donors as well as the Economic Security Project and will provide $1,000/mo for a year with no strings attached. The program will begin in December and will target low-income African-American mothers in the community. A lottery will determine participants. The Magnolia Mothers Trust will study qualitative data such as spending patterns and increased community engagement.

St Paul, MN - The city council released an initial draft of a $15/hr minimum wage ordinance they plan to consider before the year’s end. The proposal would mandate increases for large businesses with 100 workers or more to begin gradually increasing wages in 2020 arriving at $15/hr by 2023. Smaller businesses would have six years and “micro-businesses” with five or fewer workers would have ten years to comply. The current draft does not allow an exemption for tipped workers but does contain a 90-day exemption for both youth (14-17 year olds) and training programs. Franchises with ten or more locations nationwide are considered large businesses under the proposed law.

Amazon - The company faced backlash from many of its long-term employees after the recent elevation of its hourly starting wage rate to $15/hr. One of the chief concerns was that they would receive less total compensation when accounting for a subsequent reduction of benefits and stock options. Amazon responded by raising the wage rate and instituting a cash bonus schedule for long-term employees as they reach certain milestones.


Washington - A house committee heard testimony regarding a potential statewide restrictive scheduling mandate that may be considered during the next legislative session. Seattle is one of a few localities across the country with a scheduling mandate already in place.

Philadelphia, PA - The city council will hold a hearing on Oct. 30 to review the restrictive scheduling legislation.  The bill is expected to be amended to address some of the business community concerns prior to a vote, but the details of such amendments have not been released.

Labor Policy

U.S. Supreme Court - This week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a California school district’s challenge to a ruling that found that employers violate federal equal pay law when they factor workers' prior pay into salary offers. The case could undermine salary history bans which have been enacted by many states over the past few years.

New York - The Cuomo Administration released finalized guidance materials describing employer obligations under the state’s new sexual harassment policies. Businesses in the state must adopt written sexual harassment prevention policies within a year and implement mandatory anti-harassment training.

Starbucks - The coffee retailer announced an expanded benefit plan for employees that subsidizes child care services. The company will subsidize up to ten days a year of child care and care for elderly family members in instances where an employee’s plan for such care has fallen through. The backup care plan is offered through a partnership with, a provider of a wide range of care and in-home services.


Purple Pig - Ten protesters affiliated with various workers rights organizations entered the Purple Pig restaurant in Chicago and disrupted business operations. The protesters were calling on the restaurant’s management team to better enforce their sexual harassment policies after an alleged incident.Taxes

New Jersey - The governor signed legislation mandating out-of-state sellers with at least 200 transactions or $100,000 worth of sales into the state per year register with the state and begin collecting sales taxes. The language also includes a mandate that online marketplace providers collect and remit on behalf of third-party sellers using their platform. The signing follows the governor’s conditional veto of similar legislation which was attached to the state budget earlier this year.

West Virginia - The state tax department announced that out-of-state sellers with at least 200 transactions or $100,000 worth of sales into the state per year must register with the state and begin collecting taxes by Jan. 1, 2019. The governor had previously stated he wanted to see the legislature act on the issue and not pursue additional collection authority through regulation. The state could still look to address the collection responsibilities of online marketplaces during the next legislative session.

Washington D.C. - The city council held a public h
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