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Top Five Labor Law Developments for June 2019

Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 18, 2019
An employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by maintaining a mandatory arbitration policy making arbitration the exclusive forum for resolving all employment claims because it denied employees access to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Board has ruled. Prime Healthcare Paradise Valley, LLC, 368 NLRB No. 10 (June 18, 2019).

Substance, Not Form, Determines Whether Employee Meals Have Noncompensatory Business Reason, IRS Warns

Ogletree Deakins • July 18, 2019
In a technical advice memorandum (TAM 201903017) released on January 18, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided guidance on whether employer-provided meals and snacks are includable in employee income and subject to employment tax. The memorandum, which cites a number of IRS rulings on this topic, serves as a forewarning to employers of the limitations of providing free meals to employees.

U.S. House of Representatives Passes $15 Minimum Wage Bill

Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 18, 2019
After six months of primarily internal Democratic Party wrangling, on July 18, 2019 the House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act, which, if it became law, would progressively increase the federal minimum wage to $15.00 per hour over a six-year period. The House passage of the Bill comes at a time when an increasing number of states and local jurisdictions already have enacted minimum wage laws well above the federal minimum, which has been set at $7.25 per hour for a decade. Currently, more than half of the States have minimum wage rates higher than the federal minimum.

New York Seeks to Add Protections for Discrimination and Retaliation Based on Immigration Status

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • July 18, 2019
The New York State Legislature recently approved changes to state law addressing prohibited retaliation in employment, and to vehicle and traffic laws, to provide additional protections for employees or their family members regarding their citizenship or immigration status. The bill (S 1747B) amending vehicle and traffic laws was enacted last month, while the second measure (SB 5791), which seeks to protect employees from discrimination and retaliation based on immigration status, has been sent to Governor Cuomo for his expected signature.

Franchising and California at a Crossroads: the Dynamics of Dynamex and the ABC Test

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • July 18, 2019
In 2018, the Supreme Court of California turned much of the established law regarding worker classification on its head with its decision in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court.1 Dynamex addressed a single, narrow question: whether certain workers were appropriately classified as independent contractors or were instead properly classified as employees for purposes of the state’s wage and hour laws. In the wake of Dynamex, however, some have urged courts to expand the scope of the case beyond the narrow confines of independent contractor/employee classification to instead broadly redefine the law of joint employment and vicarious liability generally. If courts take up this invitation, it may sound the death knell for the franchise model of business operation in California, imposing joint liability on franchisors with little to no control over the day-to-day activities of their franchisees or of those franchisees’ employees.

Obesity Qualifies as Disability, Washington Supreme Court Rules

XpertHR • July 18, 2019
It is illegal to refuse to hire qualified potential employees because the employer perceives them to be obese, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled. After a federal court in Seattle dismissed the case, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had asked Washington's highest court to resolve the issue because it involved a matter of state law.
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