On December 30, 2014, former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a revised version of an eavesdropping statute that the Illinois Supreme Court had struck down as unconstitutionally overbroad last March. Under the revised law, it is a criminal act to record a private conversation or to intercept, record, or transcribe a private electronic communication without the consent of all parties to the communication. The law defines private as any oral or written communication between two or more people in which the parties have a “reasonable expectation” that the communication will remain private. Previously, recording anyone in Illinois (even in public) was illegal without permission.
Employers should implement policies prohibiting nonconsensual recording of private workplace conversations and beware of taping interviews, telephone conversations, investigatory interviews, disciplinary meetings, or any workplace conversations—even for legitimate business reasons—if consent of all parties is not obtained or there is an argument that the communications being made are private. Employers are encouraged to work with legal counsel to ensure their policies and practices do not conflict with National Labor Relations Board rules by restricting employees’ right to record non-private conversations in the workplace. Also, employer policies relating to employee use of company email systems need to ensure that employees do not have a “reasonable expectation” in the privacy of personal communications sent over those systems.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), a bill that would change the definition of “full-time” work under the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate from 30 to 40 hours per week. However, it remains to be seen whether the Senate will approve the measure (many commentators are saying it won’t) and the White House has promised to veto it.
Currently, covered businesses must provide health insurance for their full-time employees, with the ACA defining “full-time” as thirty hours or more a week. The Save American Workers Act would raise the threshold for full-time status to 40 hours per week, thus decreasing the number of employees to whom employers are required to provide insurance.
The bill, which had the support of some Congressional Democrats, has the support of many business groups, including the National Retail Federation, National Restaurant Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who said the ACA’s full-time work definition goes against longstanding practices and would cause harm to both employers and employees if allowed to stand.
This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several business trade groups announced that they jointly filed a complaint in federal court against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), seeking to strike the Board’s new “ambush” election rule that shortens the period between the filing of a union election petition and the election itself. The NLRB adopted the rule on Dec. 12, 2014 in a 3-2 vote. If not overturned, the rule is set to go into effect on April 14, 2015. See our previous post here.
The complaint alleges that the new rule violates the National Labor Relations Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and employers’ free speech and constitutional right to due process. Read the press release here.
Joining the Chamber in the lawsuit are the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), National Retail Federation, and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Worth noting is that this is only the third time SHRM has challenged a federal regulation in court.
It’s officially January, which means that Illinois’ new “Ban the Box” requirements – which prohibit most employers from asking about criminal history on employment applications and in the initial stages of the hiring process – are now the law.
The “Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act” prohibits Illinois employers with more than fifteen employees (in the current or previous year) from asking about criminal convictions on employment applications. The new law also prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until the applicant has been deemed a qualified applicant and notified of a scheduled interview, or, if there is not an interview, until a job offer has been made. Exceptions apply if an employer is required to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions under federal or state law, if criminal convictions would automatically disqualify an applicant from certain positions, or if an employer hires individuals under the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act.
As noted in our previous post, Illinois employers should check their employment applications and review their hiring policies to ensure compliance with the new law.