Since the election of President Trump, the California Legislature has been vocal and active in efforts to resist announced or anticipated actions of the Trump administration. This includes efforts to make California a “sanctuary state,” measures to protect California’s environmental standards, legislative resolutions and statements against the travel ban and other Trump proposals, and actions to provide services and support to immigrants in California.
A trio of bills introduced recently in the California Legislature seek to involve the lodging industry in efforts to combat human trafficking.
With the February 17 deadline to introduce bills in the California Legislature having come and gone, now is a good opportunity to take stock of what the coming year portends for labor and employment legislation in California. In short, the message for California employers is: “hang on – it’s going to be an interesting ride.”
Late yesterday, the Trump administration revoked Obama-era federal guidelines that had instructed public schools to permit transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
The ink has yet to dry on Philadelphia’s newly-passed Wage Equity Ordinance and the Pennsylvania Senate has already passed a Bill that would preempt Philadelphia’s new law.
On Thursday, October 27th Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law legislation that expands the scope of the city’s prevailing wage ordinance to encompass service employees at universities, hospitals and other businesses that receive government funds. The legislations, which was unanimously approved by the Philadelphia City Council, goes into effect immediately. Philadelphia’s prevailing wage ordinance was first passed in the 1950s, but in recent years has been expanded to cover more workers in the city. In substance, the ordinance requires employers to pay employees in the city covered by the ordinance a prevailing wage which, as the city explains, “is a rate of pay determined by the U.S. Department of Labor based upon the particular geographic area for a given class of labor and type of project.” A prevailing wage, as defined by the law, is typically higher than the wages that an employer would otherwise pay and, in some instances, is tied to wage rates negotiated by unions. Both before and after the expansion of the ordinance was signed into law, Mayor Kenney and members of City Council issued statements making it clear that the change to the ordinance was intended to raise the wages for thousands of people working in Philadelphia.
Recently, the New Jersey Assembly introduced a bill that would amend the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to prohibit employers from seeking compensation information on employment candidates. Pursuant to the bill’s statement, the purpose of the bill is “to strengthen protections against employment discrimination and thereby promote equal pay for women ….” So far the only actions taken to date on the bill have been its introduction and referral to the Assembly Labor Committee.
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.