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.
Supreme Court Makes it More Difficult for Employers to Deny Religious Accommodations
The United States Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that impacts an employer’s ability to deny religious accommodation requests. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires covered employers with at least 15 employees to grant reasonable accommodations to employees with sincerely held religious beliefs that conflict with a workplace policy. Employers are only allowed to deny such requests if the accommodation would cause an undue hardship to the employer.
Before this case, the Court held that an accommodation could cause “undue hardship” if the employer were forced to “bear more than a de minimis cost.” In the case of Groff v. Dejoy, a USPS mail carrier requested Sundays off to observe the Sabbath. Over time, his employer began to include Sunday shifts on the employee’s work schedule. When he refused to work on the scheduled Sunday, he was disciplined. Ultimately, he quit the position and filed a lawsuit asserting violations of his Title VII rights. In the majority opinion, the Court determined that the threshold for undue burden should be more than “a de minimis cost,” concluding that “an employer must show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantially increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.”
On the heels of this decision, employers should review their current practices to ensure they comply with the newly heightened standard.
Click here to read more from our trusted legal partner, Fisher Phillips.
2022 EEO-1 Reporting Delayed or a Second Time
On June 29, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the deadline for submitting the 2022 EEO-1 report had been postponed again. The EEOC did not provide any further insight, only stating that the portal is “tentatively” scheduled to open sometime in the Fall of 2023. The Office of Management and Budget reviews and approves EEO-1 report content every three years. It is speculated that the delay is due to differing opinions on reinstating the reporting of pay data as part of the annual submission. AlphaStaff continues to monitor the developments on this issue and will contact all clients that must file an EEO-1 report as soon as the EEOC establishes a firm deadline.
Follow this link to read an article from our trusted legal partner, Littler Mendelson.
As we enter the second half of 2023, AlphaStaff remains committed to providing our clients with an overview of legislation that becomes effective July 1, 2023. Littler has compiled this summary detailing many of the new or changing state laws which Alphastaff has highlighted throughout the year. In many cases, the newly enacted legislation may require policy updates to maintain compliance. As always, AlphaStaff is here to help you understand how these changes can impact you and to assist with updating your policies as necessary. Please reach out to your HRAM if you have any questions.
Connecticut Expands Paid Sick and Safe Leave Uses
Effective October 1, 2023, the amended law expands the reasons a Connecticut employee can use their accrued paid sick and safe leave. For example, service workers can utilize sick leave for a “mental health day” to avoid working a regularly scheduled shift and focus on their emotional and psychological well-being. Additionally, service workers can take “safe” leave to care for a child that has been a victim of family violence or sexual assault. Connecticut employers should review their paid sick leave policy and practices before October 1, 2023, to ensure compliance.
To read more, follow this link to an article published by Littler Mendelson.
New Restrictions on Physician Non-Compete Agreements in Connecticut
During the most recent legislative session, Senate Bill 9 was passed, amending Connecticut’s physician non-compete statute and extending the protections under the statute to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs). Any non-compete agreements entered, amended, extended, or renewed after October 1, 2023, will no longer be enforceable if:
- The physician does not agree to any proposed material change to the compensation terms of the agreement prior to or at the time of the extension or renewal of such agreement; and
- The agreement expires and is not renewed by the employer, or the employment or contractual relationship is terminated by the employer without cause.
These additional requirements under the non-compete statute will not apply to group practices with less than 35 physicians as long as majority ownership comprises physicians. It is important for healthcare employers utilizing restrictive covenants to review and update their non-compete agreements to ensure compliance with these new restrictions.
To read more about the new restrictions, follow this link to an article from Littler Mendelson.
Colorado Lawmakers Pass New Workplace Laws
Governor Polis signed the Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights (POWR) Act, slated to become effective on August 7, 2023, and creates new obligations for Colorado employers. In summary, the Act adds marital status as a protected class, expands restrictions on an employer’s ability to enforce non-disclosure agreements, establishes new retention requirements for personnel or employment records, lowers the plaintiff’s burden of proof to prove workplace harassment claims, and revises standards for disability discrimination. Additionally, the Governor approved an amendment to the Ensure Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. Effective January 1, 2024, employers will have more clarity on the posting requirements for new positions and will have additional compliance obligations. Finally, the Job Application and Fairness Act was signed into law. Set to take effect on July 1, 2024, the new law prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years and older and adds requirements to the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
Please follow this link to the Fisher Phillips article for a step-by-step guide to tackle compliance with the new legislation.
District of Columbia Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act Goes Live July 13
The August 2022 edition of the AlphaAdvisor highlighted the passage of the D.C. Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022 (C.E.P.A.A.). Under the amended law, D.C. employers are prohibited from taking adverse employment actions against an employee for the use of cannabis or marijuana off-premise during non-working hours. Employers are allowed to enforce a policy prohibiting off-duty use of marijuana if the position is designated as a safety-sensitive position or required by federal contract. Therefore, pre-employment testing procedures must be reviewed and amended to comply with the new law. Employers must also provide their employees notice of their protections under this law within 60 days of the July 13, 2023, effective date. New hires will also need to receive this notice during their onboarding.
Read more here from Jackson Lewis.
Recent Georgia Court Decision Potentially Invalidates Most Employee Non-Solicitation Covenants
A recent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals may have rendered employee non-solicitation covenants unenforceable for many Georgia employers. In the opinion for the case of North American Senior Benefits v. Wimmer, the Court held that employee non-solicitation agreements must include a territorial limitation to pass muster under Georgia’s 2011 Restrictive Covenant Act (“Act”). Under the Act, the Court cited that “no contract provision that ‘restricts competition’ can be enforced unless it is ‘…reasonable in time, geographic area, and scope of prohibited activities.’ Therefore, the absence of the express geographic area renders the employee non-solicitation agreement unenforceable. Practically, employee non-solicitation agreements generally do not include a provision establishing geographic limits. Please note that the geographic requirement is not extended to client non-solicitation agreements or confidential information use and disclosure agreements. Georgia employers must review their current employee non-solicitation agreements and determine the need for new agreements or amendments.
To read more on this topic, click here for an article published by Fisher Phillips.
New Employment Protection Bills Head to New York Governor's Desk
June was a busy month for the New York Legislature. Several of the new laws making their way to Governor Hochul’s desk for approval will impact New York employers. Most notably, the Clean Slate Act establishes a process that automatically seals most criminal convictions after an individual has been released and the appropriate waiting period has lapsed. The legislature also passed a bill requiring certain employers to report demographic information about their workforce along with their EEO-1 report to the New York Secretary of State. Additionally, New York employers may need to review the non-compete provisions of their restrictive covenants. If Governor Hochul signs the bill, non-competes would effectively be prohibited but for certain exceptions.
Please follow this link to the Fisher Phillips article for details of all the approved bills pending approval.