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ten most recent state employment law articles Ten Most Recent State Law Articles

New Texas Law: Is it Enough to Ease Concern Over Franchise Liability for Employment-Related Claims?

FordHarrison LLP • July 29, 2015
In response to concerns of franchisors that recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) actions threaten to undermine the common understanding of a franchisor-franchisee relationship, the Texas Labor Code was amended by the Texas Legislature. The amendment, which goes into effect on September 1, 2015, was introduced to protect franchisors from unmitigated exposure to employment claims asserted against franchisees. The amendment is reportedly in response to the NLRB's General Counsel issuance of unfair labor practice complaints asserting that certain franchisors are "joint employers" with their franchisees. Specifically, S.B. 652 amends the Texas Labor Code to confirm that a franchisor is not considered an employer of its franchisee's workers for any purpose, including employment discrimination, wage and hour laws, workers compensation, and workplace safety.

Texas Supreme Court Blocks Houston's LGBT Antidiscrimination Law

XpertHR • July 29, 2015
The Texas Supreme Court has ordered the Houston City Council to either repeal the city's 2014 equal rights ordinance or place it on this November's ballot. The ordinance prohibited discrimination based on a number of factors, most notably for sexual orientation and gender identity.

New Hawaii Medical Marijuana Law Bars Use in Workplace; Zero Tolerance Policies Still Enforceable

Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 27, 2015
Closing a gap in Hawaii’s medical marijuana law, a new law sets up a regime of vertically integrated grow facilities and retail dispensing licenses for the delivery of medical marijuana to “cardholders” in Hawaii.

Connecticut State Contractors, Health Insurance Industry Businesses Subject to Enhanced Significant Data Security Mandates

Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 27, 2015
In June, Connecticut’s governor signed into law Senate Bill 949 which amended the State’s breach notification statute. The requirement that covered businesses must provide one year of identity theft protection services for certain breaches, easily the most popular aspect of the legislation, may have diverted attention from some significant aspects of this new law.

Washington High Court: Piece Rate Compensation Alone Does Not Satisfy Rest Break Pay Requirement

Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 24, 2015
The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that employers must provide agricultural piece rate workers with extra compensation for their rest periods, rejecting the employer’s argument that its piece rate already included compensation for the required rest periods. Demetrio v. Sakuma Bros. Farms, Inc., 2015 Wash. LEXIS 807 (Wash. July 16, 2015).

Washington Piece-Rate Workers to Receive Separate Rest Breaks

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • July 24, 2015
The expansive interpretation of meal and rest break regulations continues in Washington State, as the state's highest court ruled in Demetrio v. Sakuma Brothers Farms, Inc., Case No. 90932-6 (Wash. Sup. Ct. July 16, 2015), that agricultural piece-rate workers are entitled to separate paid rest breaks. The court reasoned that hourly workers remain "on the clock" during rest breaks, and thus piece-rate workers should receive the same treatment.

Washington Employers Must Pay Piece Rate Workers Additional Rest Break Compensation

Fisher & Phillips LLP • July 24, 2015
With some limited exceptions, Washington State wage and hour rules require that workers receive a paid 10 minute rest break for every four hours worked. The Washington Supreme Court has now expanded employer obligations in this regard by ruling that employers must pay piece rate workers additional compensation for the required rest periods. The July 16, 2015 decision in Demetrio v. Sakuma Brothers Farms, Inc. states that the rest break time cannot be folded into the piece rate, and instead must be paid separately. While this case arose in the agricultural-worker context, its key holding likely applies to all industries that use piece rate compensation plans – plans under which an employee’s pay is based on the number of “pieces” he or she generates or completes.

Another One Bites The Dust: Missouri Court Refuses to Enforce Arbitration Agreement Due to Unilateral and Retroactive Modification Clause

Ogletree Deakins • July 24, 2015
Arbitration agreements have been a roller coaster for Missouri employers. Recently, in State ex rel. Hewitt v. Kerr, the Missouri Supreme Court enforced such an agreement, sending an employee’s discrimination lawsuit to arbitration. But overall, courts in Missouri have restricted the enforceability of arbitration agreements entered into between employees and employers. This month, the Missouri Court of Appeals continued that trend in Bowers v. Asbury St. Louis Lex, LLC, No. ED102229 (July 7, 2015). In Bowers, the court analyzed an arbitration agreement, which included a clause that purportedly allowed the employer to modify the agreement unilaterally and retroactively.

Amendments to California’s Paid Sick Leave Law

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, LLP • July 23, 2015
Effective immediately, California’s Healthy Workplace Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522) (the “Act”) was amended to afford more discretion to employers. As we previously advised in our June 2015 article, as of July 1, 2015, the Act requires employers to provide employees paid sick leave (“PSL”) at their regular rate of pay.

New York Wage Board Recommends Minimum Wage of $15 per Hour for Fast Food Workers

Ogletree Deakins • July 23, 2015
As we previously reported, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently appointed a Wage Board to make recommendations on increasing the minimum wage for New York State fast food employees. Throughout the recent public meeting process, fast food employers have roundly criticized any proposed minimum wage increase focused solely on one industry as unfair. Nonetheless, on July 22, 2015, the New York State Department of Labor’s Fast Food Wage Board announced their widely-expected recommendation to increase the minimum wage in the fast food industry up to $15.00 per hour. At a press conference, the Wage Board’s three members justified their recommendation by finding that the wages of fast food workers were insufficient to provide for the maintenance, health, and lifestyle of such workers.