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Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly review of retail-related legislative, judicial developments-August 5



Connecticut - The governor announced this week that a deal on the tipped wage issue is close; however, no details have been released. The state senate leadership is blocking the legislature from overriding a gubernatorial veto of legislation that would have brought the state’s rules related to the so-called 80/20 tipping rule into alignment with the new federal standard.


Summit County, CO - City officials are exploring an increase to their own minimum wage in excess of the state standard. This would be one of the first municipalities to take advantage of the new state law repealing the state’s preemption of local wage laws.


Study - The Pew Research Center released a national study showing 67% of Americans support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15/hr. From a partisan perspective, 86% of Democrats and/or “Democratically-leaning” voters support the measure with 43% support by Republicans and/or “Republican-leaning” voters.


Paid Leave


Federal - Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) released what they are calling a "genuinely bipartisan" paid leave proposal. It would allow parents to receive a $5,000 cash advance for child care that is borrowed against their future child tax credits. For low-income parents that don’t pay enough in taxes to qualify for the credit, the legislation would provide 12 weeks of full wage replacement. While bipartisan, chances for final passage are slim.


Dallas, TX - The paid leave ordinance calling for businesses with 6 or more employees to provide one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked capping at 64 hours annually went into effect August 1. For employers with fewer than 15 workers, it would be capped at 48 hours annually. Unlike their counterparts in San Antonio, Dallas city officials decided to implement the ordinance despite ongoing litigation to nullify it. It will not be enforced until April 1, 2020.


Labor Policy


EEOC - The U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Sharon Gustafson to be EEOC General Counsel and Charlotte Burrows to serve another term as an EEOC member.


NLRB - The Board ruled in Walmart’s favor on a case dating back to 2013. The Board found that the company’s decision to fire workers, who routinely participated in “intermittent strikes” organized by the union-backed OUR Walmart was lawful.


Labor Department - The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) began review of the Labor Department’s proposed tip-pooling rule, as well as changes to the dual jobs requirement or so-called 80/20 rule. Generally, the next step in the process is that the proposed rule is released for public comment. It’s expected that the rule will formalize changes previously made to Obama-era requirements.


Illinois - The governor signed into law an amendment to the state’s equal pay law which prohibits employers from requesting information from job applicants regarding salary history and it expands the scope of the requirement from equal pay for “equal work” to equal pay for “substantially similar work.”


Easthampton City, MA - The city council is considering an ordinance that would require city contractors or companies that receive tax breaks or incentives to sign an affidavit attesting that they follow all applicable wage and hour laws. This would, in effect, enhance penalties for non-compliance.


Minneapolis, MN - A proposal under consideration at city hall would empower city staff to work with the state to assist in the enforcement of existing wage and hour laws. The ordinance will be up for a vote Aug. 8.




China - President Trump announced a new round of trade sanctions against China, this time an additional 10% tariff on nearly $300 billion of Chinese imports.In response, China announced it would suspend pending purchases of US agricultural products.


Key Takeaways


  • Companies need to take notice of the Pew Research Center study referenced above and should read those numbers as consumer attitudes as well. Two out of three Americans support a $15/hr wage level and that should inform if and how companies incorporate that reality into their business models and / or public-facing communications. 

  • While unlikely to become law, the paid leave proposal offered in the Senate this week gives brands and their industry trade associations an opportunity to consider weighing in on the bill and going on the record being “for” a solution.  This approach could help innoculate brands from potential attacks on the issue from the labor community as well as by employees.


The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.

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