New Year Rings in New Employment Laws

Posted 01-08-2014

Happy 2014 from all of us at Fair Measures!

The new year has brought with it a number of important employment law changes around the country. Here are some highlights for you:

  • While the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour, 14 states have boosted their minimum wage. Arizona and Montana now require $7.90; as of July 1, 2014, California will mandate $9, (in San Francisco, it’s $10.74, and for San Jose, $10.15); and the State of Washington now has a $9.32 per hour minimum wage. For details about your state, check out the U.S. Department of Labor’s interactive map.
  • Oregon has become the first state to mandate bereavement leave. The Oregon Family Leave Act now allows eligible employees to take up to two weeks of leave after the death of a family member (parent, parent-in-law, child, spouse, domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild) in order to grieve, make arrangements, and attend the funeral or memorial service. Note that if the deceased parent, child, or spouse was killed overseas while on active duty in U.S. armed forces, this leave is also covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. For more information on FMLA rights of military family members, see the US DOL’s “Need Time?” handbook.
  • Rhode Island has joined California and New Jersey in providing paid leave for caregivers. Employees who are caring for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent, or who are bonding with a new child, can receive up to four weeks of benefits from the state temporary disability system.
  • As always, California keeps things exciting by enacting a variety of employment laws. Among the new 2014 requirements:
    • Paid Family Leave benefits have been expanded, and are now available to employees caring for ill siblings, parents-in-law, grandparents, and grandchildren.
    • Employers cannot ask applicants about criminal convictions or consider convictions in the hiring process, except in very limited circumstances.
    • Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking cannot be discriminated against, harassed, or fired because of that status, and are entitled to reasonable accommodations for safety at work, such as transfers or reassignments, schedule changes, or locks.

What this means to you:

Managers and human resources professionals who do not keep up to date with the fast-moving world of employment law could find themselves in trouble for violating employee rights, even if they were unaware of those rights. Remember that ignorance of the law is no excuse!

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.