Welcome to the latest edition of AlphaStaff's Monthly Compliance Updates!

We are pleased to provide you with a recap of National and State Legal Updates and highlight resources provided by some of AlphaStaff’s trusted legal partners to guide and help keep you in compliance.


National Updates


Department of Labor Announces Heat Hazard Alert

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a heat hazard alert to remind employers of their obligation to protect workers from heat illness or injury. OSHA will also increase inspections in high-risk industries like construction and agriculture. This aligns with President Biden's new actions to protect workers from extreme heat, as historically high temperatures put workers at risk. Since 2011, 436 people have died due to workplace heat exposure, and 2,700 cases of heat illnesses have caused days lost at work. The recent alert emphasizes employers' duty to take action to protect employees by reducing heat hazards. Employers are urged to comply with OSHA's standards and utilize available resources on heat safety to implement proper heat-illness prevention measures to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

Click here to learn more about the DOL's recent announcement.


Labor Board Issues a Blow to Workplace Conduct Policies

On August 2, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a ruling that drastically shifts the legal standards for evaluating workplace conduct rules. The Stericycle, Inc. case overturns the employer-friendly Boeing decision, returning to a similar standard established by the Lutheran Heritage case. Under the new standard, rules are examined for their potential to interfere with employees' Section 7 rights, and ambiguous rules will be construed against the employer. Additionally, the evaluation of policies must be done on a case-by-case basis, and the rule is being applied retroactively.

Workplace policies that establish workplace civility rules, loitering rules, prohibitions on unlawful strikes, work stoppages, slowdowns, and restrictions on video or cell phone recording will most likely be deemed unlawful. This decision will likely face challenges. However, until then, employers should review and possibly amend handbooks to ensure compliance with the new standard.   

Click here to read more from our trusted legal partner, Fisher Phillips.


Artificial Intelligence Era Leads to New ADA Advice for Employers

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued new guidelines to clarify employers' responsibilities when using Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly concerning applicants and workers with vision impairments. The key considerations for employers include:

  • New Reasonable Accommodations: Employers may need to develop new accommodations for AI or algorithmic decision-making processes.
  • Unintentional Problems with AI: AI tools might inadvertently screen out qualified individuals with disabilities.
  • Available Options: Alternative testing formats may be a solution if AI is causing problems.
  • Proactive Measures: Employers should disclose how AI tools evaluate applicants and employees and provide instructions for requesting an accommodation.

The EEOC guidance also includes illustrative examples of possible accommodations and takes proactive measures to align with these guidelines. AlphaStaff will continue to monitor federal and state legislative developments in these areas.  

Click here to read more from our trusted legal partner, Fisher Phillips.


EEOC Proposes Regulations for New Pregnant Worker Accommodation Law

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released proposed regulations to provide clarity on pregnancy-related reasonable accommodations as required by the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). Under the PWFA, employers with at least 15 employees must consider accommodation requests related to pregnancy, similarly to disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As drafted, the proposed new rule may necessitate significant changes to workplace practices, including accommodating healthy pregnancies and various related medical conditions.

While the proposed regulations are not yet final, key considerations for employers include:

  • Review and Align Policies: Check employee handbooks, accommodation policies, and training to ensure alignment with PWFA and EEOC regulations.
  • Understand Unique Definitions: Incorporate new definitions and obligations in accommodations related to pregnancy.
  • Conduct Interactive Process: Engage in dialogues with every employee seeking pregnancy-related accommodations and request medical information only when necessary.
  • Assess Reasonable Accommodations: Be aware of straightforward modifications considered reasonable under the EEOC's guidelines.
  • Evaluate Undue Hardship: Consult legal counsel when denying accommodation requests based on undue hardship.
  • Consider Local Laws: Comply with federal, state, or local laws that provide greater protection.

Employers have until October 10, 2023, to comment on the proposed rule before it is finalized.

Please follow this link to the Fisher Phillips article for a step-by-step guide to tackle compliance with the new legislation.


State Updates

Hawaii Becomes the Latest State to Enact Pay Transparency Law

Hawaii has introduced a pay transparency law set to take effect on January 1, 2024, that will impact larger employers. Under Senate Bill 1057, businesses with a minimum of 50 employees must disclose an hourly rate or salary range in job listings. The disclosed compensation should accurately reflect anticipated earnings. Although the law doesn't define "expected compensation," it does not mandate the disclosure of other compensation components, such as benefits. It is worth highlighting that the law exempts specific job postings, including those for positions under collective bargaining agreements, roles in companies with less than 50 employees, and internal transfers or promotions. Several questions remain regarding key aspects of the law. For example, does the 50-employee threshold pertain to the company's total workforce or just Hawaiian employees? Despite the outstanding questions, employers may want to start updating policies ahead of the effective date. To ensure compliance by January 1, 2024, and avoid penalties for non-compliance, employers may want to consider training appropriate employees about the new requirements. AlphaStaff will continue to keep you informed as the regulations for this law develop.

To read more on this topic, click here for an article published by Fisher Phillips.


Louisiana Implements Genetic Testing and Cancer Screening Leave Laws

Effective August 1, 2023, employers with 20 or more employees in Louisiana state must provide leave for employees seeking medically necessary genetic testing or cancer screening. This law aims to promote health and safeguard against discrimination and retaliation for those taking leave for such purposes.

Key provisions of this law include:

  • The medical tests or screenings must adhere to generally accepted evidence-based medical standards and be considered standard care within the professional community.
  • The tests or screenings should be crucial for diagnosing, treating, alleviating, or preventing life-threatening or painful conditions, disabilities, or physical malfunctions.
  • Services that are experimental, investigational, or not approved by the FDA are not considered medically necessary.

Employees must provide a 15-day notice prior to taking leave and make efforts to schedule it without undue disruption to business operations. While testing documentation can be required, employers shouldn't inquire about the test results. Importantly, this leave isn't required to be paid; employees can use accrued paid time off if available. Louisiana employers should consider reviewing existing leave and discrimination policies. The Louisiana Workforce Commission will publish a new mandatory workplace poster detailing employees' rights under this law.

To read more on this topic, click here for an article published by Fisher Phillips.


Maine Enacts New Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

Starting May 1, 2026, Maine will implement a new paid family leave law granting employees up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave benefits within a year. Beginning January 1, 2025, funding for this program will be drawn from a mandatory payroll tax premium of up to 1% of employee wages, shared equally between employers and employees (with each capping their share at 0.5% of weekly wages). Maine employers with less than 15 employees will be exempt from contributing but obligated to collect and remit the employee portion of the payroll tax.
The program will be administered by the Maine Department of Labor and covers all Maine employees, including public sector and tribal government workers. Self-employed individuals can also opt into the program. Covered employees will receive 90% of their average weekly wage up to 50% of the state average weekly wage.
This law permits a broad range of reasons for leave, aligning with Maine's current Family and Medical Leave law, encompassing bonding time, caregiving, exigencies, safe leave, and more. Employers will need to post notices and provide written explanations of employees' rights when the Maine Department of Labor makes them available.

Please follow this link to the Jackson Lewis article for details of the pending legislation.