Monthly Archives: October 2016

New California Law Bans Choice Of Law Provisions In Employment Agreements

signing-contractCalifornia has passed a new law prohibiting employers from requiring workers to litigate claims under other states’ laws.

The law, which applies to agreements entered into, modified or extended beginning January 1, 2017, states that any agreement to pursue employment-related claims, including arbitration, outside of California or under the laws of another state violates public policy and is “voidable by the employee.” The new law codifies existing case law finding such choice of law provisions invalid.

This new law serves as a great reminder for California employers to review their employment agreements to make sure that they do not choose another state’s law. Likewise, multi-state employers with operations in California should make sure that the documents being signed by California employees either choose California law or are silent on what state’s law applies.

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White House Speaks Out On Limiting Non-Compete Agreements

pillarsThis week the White House issued a statement encouraging state lawmakers to ban non-compete agreements for workers who: (i) fall below certain wage thresholds; (ii) likely do not possess trade secrets; (iii) work in occupations related to public health and safety; or (iv) would suffer “undue adverse impacts” from being limited by a non-compete (such as those terminated without cause). The White House further encouraged states to require that non-compete agreements be presented to employees before a job offer or a significant promotion has been accepted so that it can be considered as part of the offer.

According to the White House, “[i]n adopting these strategies, states can help ensure that workers can move freely from job to job, without fear of being sued … Even in states that choose to enforce noncompetes, we have heard from experts that only in rare cases is a noncompete the best option for an employer to use, over and above the host of other legal frameworks — including trade secret protections, nonsolicitation agreements and nondisclosure agreements.” State officials from a number of states, including Illinois, released statements supporting the White House’s announcement.

It remains to be seen whether any states follow the White House’s suggestion and enact they types of provisions being recommended. We will keep you updated on any developments.

Motion Filed to Stop New Overtime Regulations… but for now keep focusing on December 1st deadline!

pillarsThis week twenty-one states filed an emergency motion for a nationwide injunction to block the new overtime regulations that are set to go into effect on December 1st.  However, as we’ve previously reported, the success of this and other efforts to stop or delay the regulations is far from clear.  Unless and until one of these efforts is successful, companies should move forward with their planning and make sure that they are prepared to be in compliance on December 1st.

Cook County Employers Must Now Provide Paid Sick Leave

buildingCook County has now joined the City of Chicago by passing a paid sick leave ordinance.  The Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, passed on October 5th, mandates that covered employers in Cook County, Illinois, allow eligible employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in each 12-month period of their employment. The Ordinance becomes effective on July 1, 2017, although, as noted below, suburbs have the ability to opt out of the ordinance and some may elect to do so.

Coverage

Individuals are entitled to benefits under the Ordinance if they:

  1. perform at least two hours of work for a covered employer while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the County in any particular two-week period; and
  2. work at least 80 hours for a covered employer in any 120-day period.

Covered employers are those with a place of business within Cook County that gainfully employ at least one covered employee. The Ordinance does not apply to collective bargaining agreements in force on July 1, 2017.

Use

Employees can use paid sick leave:

  1. for their own illness, injuries, or medical care (including preventive care);
  2. for the illness, injuries, or medical care of certain covered family members;
  3. if the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic violence or a sex offense; or
  4. if their place of business or the child care facility or school of their child has been closed by an order of a public official due to a public health emergency.

Carry Over, Restrictions on Use, Notice, Termination

Under the Ordinance, employees may carry over half of their unused paid sick leave (up to 20 hours) to the next 12-month period.

Covered employers are permitted to set reasonable minimum increments for the use of paid sick leave, not to exceed four hours a day.

Employers may require that employees provide up to seven days advance notice if the need for paid sick leave is foreseeable. If the need for leave is unforeseeable, employees must provide as much notice as is practical. The Ordinance states that employees may notify their employers of the need for leave by phone, email, or text message.

The Ordinance further provides that unused, accrued sick leave does not need to be paid out upon termination or separation of employment.

Existing Policy

If a covered employer has a policy that allows employees paid time off in an amount and a manner that meets the requirements of the new Ordinance, the employer is not required to provide any additional paid leave.

Suggested Action

Employers with operations in Cook County should review the specifics of the Ordinance and ensure compliance. At the same time, employers should also keep an eye out for paid sick leave-related resolutions in the particular suburb in which they operate. According to an opinion by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, suburbs may opt out of the requirements of the Cook County Ordinance, and many suburbs are already in the process of passing resolutions that will exempt their local businesses.

DOL Releases Final Rule On Paid Sick Leave For Employees Of Federal Contractors

600px-US-DeptOfLabor-Seal_svgOn September 29th, the Department of Labor released its final rule requiring federal contractors to provide their employees with at least 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work, up to a maximum of 56 hours (7 days) per year.

The rule officially implements President Obama’s 2015 executive order. Once formally published in the Federal Register (which is expected to happen in the next few days), the rule will go into effect 60 days after publication. Federal contractors should take note and ensure compliance with this rule.