There are many reasons why an employer may want to prevent employees from discussing their wages, salaries, bonuses, or other compensation. Pay disparities - even if based on differences in experience, training, or pay - can disrupt the working environment and lead to unhappy employees. Such discussions may lead to an increase in the number of employees demanding raises and seeking new positions if not granted. In the worst-case scenario, the information can lead to discrimination lawsuits with the high legal fees and detrimental reputation damage that such lawsuits cause.
State governments have started to take strong action against what they view as unfair employment practices. Legislatures are passing new laws about hiring practices quite frequently over the last few years. These laws seek to create greater fairness in the hiring and salary negotiation process in order to overcome inequalities such as the gender pay gap and other issues.
For the past several years, attempts at the federal and state level to clarify rules on joint employment situations have caused considerable heartburn and anxiety for employers. While several states and the Obama administration attempted to broaden the situations in which companies could be held liable for joint employers, other states and the Trump administration have pushed back and sought to protect many types of companies from being held accountable as joint employers.
Employment contracts are different from most other types of commercial contracts. A host of unique rules apply to employment contracts. At the end of the day, though, they are still contracts and must adhere to the basic rules of contracts, even if those rules are sometimes applied in different ways. This is particularly true when discussing non-compete clauses.
As more and more states legalize marijuana use for recreational and medicinal purposes, employers face a significant conundrum. Employers have to decide how to treat positive marijuana tests within their business. For those employers in safety-sensitive fields, ensuring that employees can pass drug tests is necessary for continued operations and limiting liability.
Retirement plans are an excellent way for employers to attract and retain key employees by offering non-salary compensation. Most employers in the modern era offer some form of 401(k) or other retirement offering to their employees. These plans, though, come with many risks and regulations that employers need to pay attention to, or they could wind up costing themselves big money.
On April 1, 2019, the Department of Labor proposed a new regulation, and it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. The new regulation would seek to update the Department’s sixty year old test for determining joint employer relationships under the Fair Labor Standards Act. It is worth noting that this is different from the long running dispute over the joint employer test decided by the National Labor Relations Board as a part of its 2013 Browning-Ferris decision. This new rule would apply to allegations that employers had failed to pay their workers legally obligated wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Joint employers would be jointly and severely liable for any ordered back pay.
The Fair Labor Standards Act sets national standards for wage and hour issues related to employees. The law empowers the Department of Labor to set eligibility standards for overtime pay as well as a series of exemptions for it. On March 7th, 2019, the Department of Labor issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will change those eligibility standards significantly.
The increased ability to use biometric data for a variety of purposes has the potential to improve security and privacy in the cyber world significantly. Voice recognition software, fingerprint IDs, facial recognition software are all touted as ways of preventing unauthorized access to computer systems and improving security.
As part of a widespread regulatory overhaul, the National Labor Relations Board recently issued new guidance on employee handbooks. The new handbook rules are considerably friendlier to employers than the old rules, and the NLRB has tried to provide employers with clear examples of how to remain in compliance with the new guidelines. The guidance results from a case decided by the NLRB in December 2017, The Boeing Company, which overturned a previous Bush II era case that imposed much stricter guidelines for acceptability when reviewing provisions of employee handbooks.