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On July 1, 2016, the City of Philadelphia’s new Wage Theft Ordinance went into effect. In substance, the Ordinance provides employees who fall within the scope of the Ordinance another means for seeking to recover unpaid wages (i.e., “wage theft” under the Ordinance), it creates the position of wage theft coordinator in Philadelphia, and it imposes new compliance obligations on employers who are subject to the Ordinance.

While many are mesmerized by the presidential primaries and remain frustrated by gridlock in Congress, states and municipalities are aggressively tackling social and economic issues that impact employers. The states of California and New York recently enacted legislation that will gradually raise the minimum wage in each state to either $12.50 or $15 an hour. In California the statewide minimum wage will, for most employers, incrementally rise each year until it reaches $15 an hour on January 1, 2022. In New York, the minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour by the end of 2018 for a large number of businesses in New York City, and to $15 an hour by the end of 2021 in certain counties (Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester) surrounding New York City, while the minimum wage for the rest of the state will gradually rise to $12.50 an hour by the end of 2020. In addition to minimum wage increases, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D – New York) recently signed a bill that provides employees in New York with 12-weeks paid family leave. This is the strongest and most generous paid family leave law in the country.

Pennsylvania government employees and contractors are now protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity.

On April 7, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed a pair of executive orders prohibiting discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity. The pair of orders come on the heels of a recent slate of controversial so-called “religious freedom” laws in states such as North Carolina and Mississippi.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (the “Act”) was signed into law on January 29, 2009. In short, the Act states that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action. Since the Act’s inception, there have been efforts made to address pay discrimination in the workplace. To that end, employers should be aware of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) recent proposed changes to pay data reporting requirements.

In a first-of-its-kind development, the Oregon legislature passed and the Governor will sign into law a minimum wage hike law that will go into effect July 1, 2016. Under the new law, the rates will steadily increase through 2023, eventually giving Oregon the highest minimum wage rates in the nation.

The anxiety of employers and labor attorneys only worsened this week when the Department of Labor took another step towards finalizing and publishing the much anticipated changes to the so-called “persuader” rule. On Monday, the DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards submitted a proposed final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the final step before a rule may be published. The DOL has signaled that it intends to publish the final rule by March 2016, but some, based upon the OMB’s typical review timeframe, believe the rule may be published even sooner.

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California employers will soon be subject to a new equal pay law that will create a much stricter standard for gender pay equity. Passed by the state legislature with broad bipartisan support and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 6, 2015, this new law is considered the most aggressive equal pay law in the nation. California employers will want to begin preparing immediately for its impact.

New Jersey’s minimum wage will remain at $8.38 per hour for 2016, the state government recently announced.

Tacoma has now joined Seattle as the third city in Washington State to mandate paid sick leave for employees (certain hospitality and transportation workers employees in SeaTac also receive this benefit). The new law will go into effect February 1, 2016.

With a few key strokes, the NLRB yesterday, in a 3-2 decision down party lines, wiped away years of precedent and re-wrote, or, in its words “refined,” the definition of a joint employer. In a ruling that will, if upheld through inevitable appeals, significantly impact the franchise, outsourcing and many other industries, the NLRB decided a California company, Browning-Ferris Industries, was a joint employer of workers hired by a staffing firm.

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