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North Carolina Legislative Update May 6, 2020

The General Assembly wrapped up a brief session last week, ending Saturday evening. The session focused on providing relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They passed two bills, one focusing on policy changes and the other appropriating money primarily from the Federal Government aid package to help with the pandemic. This session saw legislators utilize virtual committee meetings and relaxed voting measures that allow members more time to vote, or to vote through the majority or minority leader by proxy, without being present.

Hillsborough County Safer-At-Home Order

On March 26, 2020, Hillsborough County issued an order directing citizens to stay at home as much as possible during the continued COVID-19 crisis. The Safer-At-Home Order will go into effect at 10:00 p.m. on March 27, 2020, and will continue on a daily basis until it expires or is rescinded. Currently, the Order does not state when it expires.

Mecklenburg County N.C. Issues Stay at Home Order

In response to the spread of COVID-19, Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, and other municipalities in the county have issued a “stay at home” order that goes into effect on Thursday, March 26, 2020, at 8:00 a.m. The order will remain in force for three weeks and may be extended based on recommendations from public health officials.

NC-OSHA Willful Citations Remind Employers to Know the Legal Aspects of Citations.

NC-OSHA is a solid state-OSHA plan. They believe that their approach best reflect the needs of their citizens and challenged the Obama era Fed-OSHA when they felt that Fed demands were punitive and counterproductive. The agency values cooperative efforts with employers and is not known for abusing the scope of OSHA inspections. This does not, however, mean that unicorns frolic and chocolate rivers and gum drop trees dot the Raleigh government complex.

North Carolina Governor Vetoes Sanctuary Jurisdiction Bill, Draws Ire from Trump

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) has joined the “sanctuary city” debate. He vetoed House Bill 370, “An Act to Require Compliance with Immigration Detainers and Administrative Warrants,” on August 21, 2019.

Are North Carolina Employers Required to Have a Written Safety and Health Program?

North Carolina law requires employers with a workers’ compensation experience rate modifier (“ERM”) of 1.5 or higher to “establish and carry out a safety and health program to reduce or eliminate hazards and to prevent injuries and illnesses to employees.” Not just any program, however, will comply with the statutory requirements.

Strict Privacy and Data Security Bill Introduced in North Carolina

Early last year, I posted about tougher, bi-partisan privacy and data security legislation in the works in North Carolina. North Carolina State Representative Jason Saine (R), Senior Appropriations Chair, teamed-up with North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) and issued a fact sheet outlining what the new legislation would include.

Certificate of Relief: Reducing Employer Exposure for Hiring Employees with Certain Criminal Convictions

Recently, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted “An Act to Amend the Law Regarding a Certificate of Relief For Criminal Convictions” (the “Act”). The Act will become effective on December 1, 2018, and applies to petitions for relief filed on or after that date.

New North Carolina Law Decreases Protection to Employers

Since 2011, North Carolina has provided the opportunity for an individual who has been convicted of certain crimes to petition our courts for a “certificate of relief.” A new law that goes into effect on December 1, 2018, expands the availability of these certificates of relief while imposing some additional requirements on applicants.

Legislators respond to recent sexual harassment scandals by introducing bills to ban arbitration in sex bias cases

Many employers rely on pre-dispute arbitration agreements, usually entered at the beginning of employment, to resolve disputes that may arise during employment. The objective is to address matters through binding and private arbitration rather than public litigation. Now a bipartisan coalition in Congress, including Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., is trying to make arbitration agreements unenforceable in any “sex discrimination dispute.”

North Carolina Confronts Misclassification: What Your Organization Needs to Know About the Employee Fair Classification Act

Starting December 31, 2017, the North Carolina Industrial Commission will have a permanent Employee Classification Section responsible for taking complaints about and facilitating the sharing of information among state and federal agencies regarding the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. The recently enacted Employee Fair Classification Act (EFCA) codifies provisions of an executive order signed in 2015 and, for the first time, requires employers to report their compliance in properly classifying employees with state occupational licensing boards and commissions.

North Carolina Cracks Down on Employee Misclassification

Most employers are familiar with legal issues surrounding the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors. Until recently, these discussions centered primarily around the decision on how a worker should be classified. Based on recent legislation in North Carolina, however, that conversation is shifting to account for the greater potential fallout from worker misclassification.

New NC Law Improves Protections of Farmers Against Unionization

On July 13, 2017, North Carolina helped farmers by improving statutory protections against unionization. Although farmworkers generally do not have a statutory right to unionize under N.C. or federal law, unions are using indirect tactics to force farmers to unionize, such as asserting economic pressure or filing federal lawsuits.

Post-Wilkes Decision Tips for Handling Workers’ Compensation Claims

Last week we wrote about the impact of the Wilkes v. City of Greenville decision. In this ruling, the North Carolina Supreme Court significantly expanded the “Parsons presumption,” which posits a relationship between an original work-related injury and additional treatments required.

An Employer’s Short Guide to Employee Break Time Obligations

A recent study showed that employees who regularly take short breaks are far more productive than those who work continuously for hours on end. The study, conducted by the Draugiem Group, found that the ideal work-to-break ratio was roughly an hour of uninterrupted work, followed by a break lasting 15 to 20 minutes. Regardless of how employers feel about the results of this study, they should understand their legal obligations with regard to employees’ meal periods and rest breaks.

Employers Cannot Be Mandated to Provide Paid Sick Leave in Carolinas

The issue of paid time off for employees remains a debated issue throughout the nation. Currently, there is no federal law mandating private employers provide paid time off for employees. While many states and cities have legislation mandating paid time off under certain circumstances, there is no state law in North or South Carolina that requires private employers to provide paid time off or leave to employees.

North Carolina Enacts Law Repealing "Bathroom" Bill But Limiting Local Anti-Discrimination Laws

Last week, North Carolina lawmakers repealed the state’s controversial House Bill 2 (“HB 2”), which had required individuals to use the public bathroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate, along with several other provisions. The repeal bill has been called a compromise between the state’s Republican General Assembly and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper: it repeals HB 2 but, for the time being, maintains its restriction on cities and counties passing ordinances governing employment or public accommodation.

New Year, New Resolutions: Reviewing, Updating and Even Eliminating Policies

For employers across the Carolinas, the New Year presents the ideal opportunity to review and update important company policies. In some instances, there may be policies that need to be eliminated altogether. This article highlights four important policies most employers should have – and one particular policy that employers should consider removing from company handbooks or manuals.

Unions Pressure Carolina Farmers

Carolina farmers must constantly deal with changing weather and markets. Add one more challenge: labor unions. Recently, labor unions have actively targeted certain agribusinesses in the Carolinas.

What North Carolina Employers Need To Know About New "Bathroom Law"

On April 12, 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory issued an Executive Order to clarify and somewhat lessen the impact of what has widely been referred to as the state’s new “bathroom law.” The new law, passed a few weeks ago, makes clear that the state government, located in Raleigh, will set uniform antidiscrimination laws for the entire state. Hence, North Carolina cities and counties cannot pass their own antidiscrimination laws, including any that would provide greater protections to LGBT individuals (most specifically those who are transgender).

Carolina Employer Workplace News – Spring 2016

The North Carolina “Single-Sex Multiple Occupancy” Act (also known as “HB-2”) prevents cities and counties from passing their own anti-discrimination rules. It is attracting nationwide attention due to its adverse treatment of transgender persons in public accommodations, and it is being challenged in a lawsuit filed on March 28. The Act also amended the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act (NCEEPA), calling into question the viability of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy claims premised upon NCEEPA. Finally, the Act amended North Carolina’s wage and hour act. Read more…

What Does North Carolina's New Public Facilities Law Mean for Employers?

Approximately one week before changes to Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinances were to take effect, the State of North Carolina enacted a law that not only invalidates the amendments, but also has broader implications for all state discrimination claims.

New NC Law Clarifies Scope of Some State Law Claims for Wrongful Termination

On March 23, 2016, Governor Pat McCrory signed into law House Bill 2, commonly known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. The act contains a significant provision clarifying North Carolina common law in the area of wrongful termination claims brought under state law.

North Carolina Employees are not “Authorized” to Divert Employer Data

As the year draws to a close, employer claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) against departing employees for stealing or otherwise diverting employer information without authorization to do so are dying slow deaths in many federal courts across the nation.

Changes to North Carolina's Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(4) Regarding Experts

For cases filed on or after Oct. 1, 2015, in North Carolina state courts, there are new changes to how the parties will approach expert disclosure and discovery.

Changes to North Carolina's Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(4) Regarding Experts

For cases filed on or after Oct. 1, 2015, in North Carolina state courts, there are new changes to how the parties will approach expert disclosure and discovery.

North Carolina Wrongful Discharge Claims May Not be based on Federal Public Policy or Constitution, Federal Court Rules

A wrongful discharge claim under North Carolina law may not be based on federal public policy, including policy expressed in the federal Constitution, a federal district court has ruled. Santifort v. Guy, 4:14-cv-00225-F, DE # 34 (E.D. N.C. Sept. 8, 2015).

North Carolina Reinforces Property Protection Law, Giving Employers Right to Sue

The protection of property, be it patient records, financial information, consumer data, merchandise, or intellectual property, is a serious issue for North Carolina companies of all sizes. Beginning on January 1, 2016, North Carolina employers will be able to recover monetary damages resulting from employees’ unauthorized access to and theft of their property.

Free Desk Reference for North Carolina Employers

Nexsen Pruet is offering a free download of its updated "Employer's Desk Reference for the Carolinas."

North Carolina Governor Signs E-Verify Law

On June 23, 2011, Governor Beverly Perdue signed a bill into law requiring all cities, all counties, and private employers of a certain size in North Carolina to use the federal government's E-Verify program to verify the work authorization of newly-hired employees. The law is titled, "An Act To Require Counties, Cities, And Employers To Use The Federal E-Verify Program To Verify The Work Authorization Of Newly Hired Employees." North Carolina is one of 17 states, including neighboring Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, that have some form of E-Verify requirements for employers.

North Carolina eAuthority.

North Carolina Bans Texting While Driving; Increased Penalties for Child Labor Violations; Unemployment Benefits; Personal Protective Equipment; At-Will Employment: Court Strengthens Limits on Contracts that Modify At-Will Employment; Wage and Hour: North Carolina’s Wage and Hour Act Does Not Apply to Non-Residents Working Primarily Out of State; Benefits: A Non-ERISA Short-Term Disability Plan Gives Employer Reasonable Discretion to Determine Benefits Eligibility; Unemployment Compensation: North Carolina Supreme Court Finds that Employee Who Accepts Voluntary Retirement Package is Ineligible for Unemployment Benefits; Harassment: Federal Courts Require More from Employer Harassment Investigations; Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): Fourth Circuit Clarifies Analysis for Administrative Exemptions.

Status of North Carolina Immigration Reform (pdf).

North Carolina legislators have been attempting to pass similar statutory changes for several years, and the successful passage of the South Carolina law may spur lawmakers forward.

Employment and Labor Law Desk Reference For The Carolinas.

Employment laws covering employers in the Carolinas.
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