On April 1, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a press release announcing its publication of a Final Rule on the paid sick leave requirements and family leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Relying on the “good cause” exception of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the DOL bypassed the generally required notice and public comment provision before issuing the Final Rule.

The Final Rule supplements and clarifies the multiple FFCRA Q&A publications the DOL has issued over the past several weeks. On April 3, after the Final Rule was released, the DOL updated its prior Q&A guidance incorporating content from the Final Rule. The updated April 3 guidance is available here. This is the most current and comprehensive set of FFCRA Q&As published to date by the DOL. (Our previous summaries of the DOL’s March 25 and March 28 FFCRA Q&As are available here and here, though readers should note that the Q&As contained in those links have now been updated via the April 3 updated Q&As.)
Continue Reading DOL Issues Final Rule and Additional Guidance on FFCRA Leave and Pay Requirements

On March 27 and 28, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released additional question-and-answer style guidance on the emergency paid sick and family leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which we first reported here. We look below at seven key issues addressed in the DOL’s updated guidance.

Continue Reading Updated Guidance for Employers on Paid Leave Requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Most Illinois employers are already aware of the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (Cannabis Act) which, among other things, legalizes recreational use of marijuana in Illinois effective January 1, 2020.  On December 4, 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law amendments to the Cannabis Act that, at a glance, appear to offer hope for employers seeking clarity about when they may discipline or refuse to hire an individual based on marijuana use. While the amendments make clear that employers may test applicants and employees for marijuana, the law continues to remain unclear as to what an employer may do with a positive marijuana result.
Continue Reading Illinois Recreational Marijuana Law Amendments Permit “Reasonable” Drug Testing But Leave Uncertainty

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released the final version of its anticipated overtime exemption rule, setting a new annual salary threshold for “white collar” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at just over $35,000 per year.  In the DOL’s press release accompanying the final rule, the agency anticipated its action will “make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay.”  The new rule will take effect on January 1, 2020.[1]
Continue Reading Increase in FLSA Overtime Exemption Threshold Expected to Make More than One Million Employees Newly Eligible for Overtime Pay

On September 11, 2019, the California Senate passed Assembly Bill 5 (A.B. 5), which – if signed into law – will codify the so-called “ABC Test” utilized by the California Supreme Court in Dynamex v. Superior Court of Los Angeles to hold that the company’s delivery drivers were employees, not independent contractors, for the purpose of applying California Department of Industrial Relations Wage Orders. The bill, which California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign, will have major implications on so-called “gig economy” workers, potentially leading to many being reclassified as employees rather than independent contractors.
Continue Reading Pending Major Worker Reclassification Law Aims to Burst California’s “Gig Economy” Bubble

As the #MeToo movement continues to sweep the country, on August 9, 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law Illinois Senate Bill 75 (now Public Act 101-0221) which will mandate statewide sexual harassment training for employers in Illinois and add other obligations and restrictions aimed at curbing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Taking effect in just a few short months, the Act will require at least some policy, practice, and/or contracts revisions by virtually all Illinois employers.

Substantively, Senate Bill 75 amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) and the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) in numerous significant ways, and enacts the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA) and Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act.

Unless otherwise noted, these amendments and new laws take effect January 1, 2020.
Continue Reading Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training and Other Sweeping #MeToo Protections to Take Effect in Illinois

On July 24, 2019, the Chicago City Council voted to pass the Fair Workweek Ordinance that will require covered employers to, among other things, provide employees with at least 10 days’ advance notice of their work schedules and provide additional compensation to employees for any unscheduled changes to their scheduled work hours. Mayor Lori Lightfoot publically supported and is expected to sign the ordinance, which will go into effect on July 1, 2020.
Continue Reading Chicago Fair Workweek Law Set to Impose Sweeping Predictable Workweek Requirements

Yesterday, in a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the United States Supreme Court held that ambiguous arbitration agreements do not provide the affirmative contractual basis required to send a dispute to classwide arbitration. In so ruling, the Court extended previous pro-business decisions holding that consent to classwide arbitration cannot be inferred from a contract that is “silent” on the issue. This decision is a business- and employer-friendly outcome that affirms the use of efficient and cost-effective individual arbitrations.
Continue Reading SCOTUS Deals Another Blow to Classwide Arbitration

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Monday, on the eve of National Equal Pay Day, that it violates the Equal Pay Act to use pay history to justify wage gaps between male and female employees for the same or substantially similar work. The decision in Rizo v. Yovino, No. 16-15372 (9th Cir. Apr. 9, 2018) has immediate ramifications for employers in the Ninth Circuit in evaluating employee compensation.
Continue Reading Consideration of Pay History to Justify Gender Wage Gaps Held Unlawful by Ninth Circuit on Eve of National Equal Pay Day

On February 21, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, S. Ct. No. 16-1276 (Feb. 21, 2018), narrowing the scope of who qualifies for whistleblower protection under the Dodd-Frank Act. Dodd-Frank is a federal law which, in conjunction with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, provides incentives and protections for whistleblowers who report suspected securities law violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The issue before the Court was whether “the anti-retaliation provision of Dodd-Frank extend[s] to an individual who has not reported a violation of the securities laws to the SEC and therefore falls outside the Act’s definition of ‘whistleblower[.]’” The Court held that the definition of “whistleblower” in Dodd-Frank did not include employees who failed to report suspected securities law violations to the SEC. While the Court’s decision was based on the statutory language of Dodd-Frank, the decision may present an argument for narrower interpretations of the protections afforded to employees under the whistleblower provisions of the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII and the ADEA, and other laws such as the False Claims Act.
Continue Reading High Court Narrows Whistleblower Status Protections Under Dodd-Frank