Regulatory Wrap-Up: Insider’s weekly guide to retail-related legislative developments - March 19
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Delaware: The senate postponed action last week but is still considering legislation to increase the state minimum wage to $8.75/hr. in 2018 escalating to $10.25/hr. in 2020.
Louisiana: Governor Edwards announced his support for a pay equity law as well as “a modest but meaningful increase” in the state’s minimum wage from the current federal minimum of $7.25/hr. to $8.50/hr over two years. Although the bills passed their first senate committee last week, the likelihood of the Democratic governor advancing even modest priorities through the Republican-led legislature during an election year is low.
Rhode Island: Multiple proposals to increase the state’s minimum wage continue to move through the legislative process. Last week a spokesperson for the labor advocacy group Jobs with Justice indicated a willingness to accept a more modest increase to $12/hr. by 2020.
Vermont: Following senate approval of a $15/hr. minimum wage bill last month, business advocates are focused on addressing the most negative aspects of the bill in the house. The state chamber is advocating for a potential rate distinction between rural and urban markets and a freeze on the tipped wage at its current level of $5.25/hr. The governor has indicated his opposition to $15/hr. in the past, but the fact that the senate passed the bill with enough votes to override a potential veto coupled with increasing momentum in the house may weaken his opposition.
New Mexico: In a major win for worker advocates, the court directed the state to enhance its enforcement of a 2009 wage theft law. A judge approved a settlement between the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and the state’s labor agency (Department of Workforce Solutions), which according to the center’s lawsuit failed to properly enforce minimum wage requirements. The settlement lifts a $10,000 cap on unpaid wage claims and bolsters requirements that negligent employers pay treble damages among other stipulations.
Arizona: The house-passed resolution that would eliminate an anti-retaliation provision in the 2016 voter-approved paid leave law passed its first committee in the senate. Current law states that if an employer takes disciplinary action against an employee within 90 days of a worker’s complaint, the action is presumed to constitute illegal retaliation. If the full senate approves the measure, it would appear on the November ballot.
New Hampshire: The paid leave proposal that has been moving through the House was significantly amended to mirror the recently enacted New York law which is funded by employee payroll contributions. The amended version passed a committee but could face more resistance in the full house as the debate continues.
New Jersey: Sponsors of the paid leave proposal under consideration in the house have worked with the business community to amend the bill which has now passed a house committee. The house legislation now preempts local leave ordinances, allows for black-out dates as set by employers, has an exemption for seasonal workers, reduces the maximum hours of leave from 72 to 40 hours and contains a 180-day implementation delay once the bill is signed into law. The bill still needs to move through both the house and the senate. The general expectation is that some version of paid leave legislation will pass. The senate majority leader indicated she may prefer stronger provisions, but the business community is working to ensure that the amendments are maintained throughout the process.
Hawaii: A bill to mandate scheduling practices will not advance this session.
Austin, TX: Reports indicate that the city council, fresh off passing a paid leave law, is considering a restrictive scheduling mandate. The council may choose to act prior to an expected push for a statewide preemption law when the state legislature convenes in 2019.
Labor Department: The Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) is investigating whether or not the non-profit worker center CTUL, which has conducted corporate campaigns against major retail brands, fits the agency’s definition of a union. If OLMS rules that CTUL is in fact a union then the worker center would be subject to a number of new registration and disclosure requirements. Such a determination could capture other worker centers as well.
NLRB: A U.S. Senate committee approved the nomination of John Ring to fill the remaining vacancy on the National Labor Relations Board. Ring’s nomination will now advance to the full U.S. Senate and once confirmed will restore the Board to Republican control.
NLRB: The Board has extended the deadline for public comments on its previously-announced plan to roll back the Obama-era rule that shortened the time frame for union elections, otherwise known as the “ambush” election rule. The Board extended the deadline to April 18.
Joint Employer: The D.C. Circuit Court may be the next venue to watch for an outcome on the joint employer issue. With the Obama-era Browning-Ferris standard now back in effect, the NLRB is petitioning the court to revisit the issue.
Idaho: The house and the senate passed a bill codifying that neither a franchisee nor a franchisee’s employees shall be considered employees of the franchisor. The bill now moves to the governor’s desk for his expected signature.
Michigan: A bill that would prevent localities from regulating the practice of asking employees questions related to their salary history passed both chambers and heads to the governor’s desk for his expected signature.