Hot Topics in Employment Law This Year

Date: January 13, 2020

The NFIB on-demand webinar offers small businesses tips on compliance in 2020.

The past year brought lots of changes for employers. A webinar hosted by NFIB Jan. 8 covered significant employment law developments taking place nationwide that may affect your business. Presented by Beth Milito and Luke Wake, attorneys in the NFIB Small Business Legal Center, the webinar provided practical, timely, and critical advice to minimize small business employment law liability.

The webinar included updates on the following hot topics:

  1. On wage and hour issues, minimum wage rates increased in 23 states on Jan. 1, with more increases likely to happen in the coming year. Employers also need to take note of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule that took effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The rule raises the salary threshold for white-collar, exempt employees from $23,660 per year to $35,568 per year. Milito encouraged employers to download a copy of NFIB’s newly revised Guide to Wage and Hour Law, review pay practices, and conduct an audit of exempt position descriptions.
  1. Paid leave remains a focus for many legislators, and eight states and the District of Columbia now have paid family leave laws on the books. Coordinating employee leave with new mandates will only get more complicated as additional states enact laws in 2020. For additional guidance on leave, employers can check out NFIB’s webinar Leave After Leave: Employee Requests for Time Off.
  1. California’s recently enacted AB 5 and the Consumer Privacy Protection Act were discussed by Wake, who is a California attorney based in NFIB California’s Sacramento office. He warned participants that these two bills will affect businesses nationwide, noting that, “regardless of where your business is located, AB 5 affects you if you work with contractors based in California or if you are a contractor doing work in California.” Businesses can acquaint themselves with AB 5 by reviewing this article. For general information on independent contractor compliance in other states, download NFIB’s Guide to Independent Contractors. NFIB also provides guidance on the CCPA, which affects many small business collecting email addresses or other personal identifying information on Californians.
  1. The rise of medical and recreational marijuana laws has created a hazy landscape for employers trying to determine if they can fire employees for marijuana usage. Milito offered tips for employers looking to maintain drug-free workplaces, but cautioned that many states now prohibit discrimination against off-duty use and/or require “accommodations” for employees with medical marijuana cards. Milito observes those rules generally do not affect federal contractors or the right of an employer to enforce zero tolerance with regard to safety sensitive positions.
  1. Anti-harassment legislation continues to percolate in the #MeToo era and Wake closed out the webinar discussing mandatory training requirements that have been enacted in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, and New York. For a model anti-harassment policy, employers can look at NFIB’s Model Employee Handbook.

The webinar can be viewed on-demand here. Employers who have additional questions can contact Milito or Wake directly at the NFIB Small Business Legal Center today at 800-NFIB-NOW.

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