Private Illinois employers may now give preference to veterans in their hiring practices.
Governor Bruce Rauner has signed the Veterans Preference in Private Employment Act, which allows private employers to voluntarily implement hiring policies that give preference to individuals who have served in the military, whether on active or reserve duty, including the Illinois National Guard.
Employers wanting to take advantage of this new law will need to have a written policy and reference it on job applications. The policy must also be publicly displayed in the employer’s workplace or on the employer’s website.
The EEOC has confirmed its position that Title VII prohibits discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation. The EEOC’s statement followed on its prior determination that Title VII protects individuals against discrimination based on transgender status, gender identity, and an employee’s transitioning between genders. According to the EEOC, sexual orientation bias is “associational discrimination on the basis of sex.” Thus, employees who work for an employer with 15 or more employees can file a charge of sex discrimination with the EEOC if the employee has been discriminated against because of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Notwithstanding the EEOC’s position, there is still no federal law that explicitly protects individuals from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, 22 states (including Illinois), Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have state-based employment nondiscrimination laws that cover sexual orientation and/or gender identity that apply to both private and public sector employers.
With so much recent attention, employers should be particularly attentive to issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. We suggest updating any employment policies and practices to include prohibitions on discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity to help protect employers against EEOC and state-law challenges.
A challenge to the NLRB’s “ambush election rules” has failed. A federal court sitting in the District of Columbia ruled that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups challenging the new election rules – which, as discussed in our prior blog post, speed up the union election process – failed to prove that the rules violate any laws. The court rejected the groups’ contentions that the rules constitute “sweeping changes to the election process” and impinge on employers’ constitutional rights.
With the new rules seemingly here to stay, employers need to be prepared and ready to go.
The District of Columbia has joined New York and California in enacting a Wage Theft Prevention Act. And while D.C. employers have been required to provide certain notices since late February, the deadline for providing notices to current employees and meeting record-keeping requirements (including keeping more specific time records) is Wednesday, May 27th.
Wage Theft Prevention laws require employers to provide employees with a detailed notice setting out details about their compensation and how they are employed. While in California these notices need only be presented to non-exempt employees, in New York they must be given to all new employees (a requirement that employees be provided with notices annually was recently repealed).
The D.C. law requires that a notice similar to those required in these other jurisdictions be provided to all current employees by Wednesday, May 27th (a sample of the “Notice of Hire” to be provided to employees notice can be found here). Employers with employees in the District of Columbia need to act fast to provide these notices and post the required posting regarding the Wage Theft Prevention Act by the deadline.
But that’s not all…. the D.C. law also requires employers to record non-exempt employees’ “precise time worked”, rather than just “hours worked”. While the law doesn’t define “precise time worked,” it presumably requires that the employer record the employee’s start time, end time, and the beginning and end of any break time, rather than simply “eight hours worked.” The law requires that employers maintain these records for all employees who are non-exempt under D.C. standards (which are more employee-friendly than federal standards).
Companies with D.C. employees should confirm that notices are provided, that the required poster is posted and that a method for recording “precise time worked” is in effect by the time employees return from the Memorial Day holiday.
Companies devote significant resources to keeping computer networks and information secure, but those efforts can be undone when employees work outside the secure workspace. When an employee downloads a document to a personal laptop, saves information on an unencrypted external storage drive, uses the local coffee shop wi-fi, or – as the headlines have reminded us this week – uses personal email for business purposes, secure information is at risk.
What’s an employer to do? Here are some tips:
- Make sure that your human resources and technology teams are working together on issues relating to network and information security.
- Implement a clear policy prohibiting use of personal email for business purposes and prohibiting employees from using unsecured internet connections and storage drives.
- Only allow employees to access company networks with approved devices and, if you allow employees to use personal mobile devices for business, implement a “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) Policy that sets security requirements (such as requiring strong passwords) and gives the company the right to review and wipe devices.
- Train all employees in security protocols so that they understand not only your requirements but the reasons why they’re necessary. Employees may not think much of using public wi-fi or personal email until you explain the real risk that both raise.
- Make sure that employees who work remotely have secure options for connecting.
- Monitor outgoing email to identify employees who may be emailing confidential information to personal emails.
- If you discover that an employee is violating security requirements — take appropriate action.