As summer approaches and the clocks are set forward, April marks an increase in the National Minimum Wage, compensation for unfair dismissal and other payments required by UK employment laws.
Illinois’ New Paid Leave Law: What Employers Need to Know
The Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA) was signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on March 13, 2023, ensuring that all workers in Illinois receive 40 hours of paid time off annually for any purpose. The law will become effective on January 1, 2024, requiring employers to utilize the remaining months of 2023 to ensure they are equipped to comply with the new legislation.
Illinois has joined Maine and Nevada as the third state to implement such a measure.
The Latest Court Ruling’s Impact On H-1B Spouses and Immigration
A federal judge recently ruled in favor of a Department of Homeland Security regulation that permits the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work. According to this Forbes article, McDermott Partner Paul Hughes drafted the amicus brief for more than 40 companies and organizations.
“This decision confirms that tens of thousands of H-4 employees—highly skilled and critical members of their teams—are lawfully employed,” said Hughes. “The court’s correct analysis follows decades of consistent practice and recognition that the Executive may determine categories of visa holders eligible for employment.”
Stryking Noncompete Preliminary Injunction
The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently upheld a district court’s grant of a preliminary injunction restricting a former employee from working for conflicting organizations or communicating with a competitor’s counsel. Stryker Emp. Co., LLC v. Abbas, Case No. 22-1563 (6th Cir. Feb. 16, 2023) (Clay, Bush, JJ.; Sutton, C.J.) The Court found that the preliminary injunction was an appropriate measure to protect the plaintiff’s confidential information that was consistent with the employee’s noncompete agreement.
DOJ Announces Major Changes to Corporate Compliance Program Evaluation Criteria, Including Compensation and Personal Messaging Applications
During speeches on March 2 and 3, 2023, at the American Bar Association National Institute on White Collar Crime, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. and other US government officials announced significant changes to the US Department of Justice’s Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs and continued to emphasize the importance of effective and robust compliance policies. These changes come on the heels of DOJ’s recent announcement of a single corporate voluntary self-disclosure policy for every US Attorneys’ Office nationwide, and are simply the latest evidence of the Biden Justice Department’s substantial focus on corporate criminal enforcement.
A Win for Employers: Ninth Circuit Holds That California AB 51 Prohibiting Mandatory Arbitration Is Pre-empted by the Federal Arbitration Act
On February 15, 2023, employers in California regained the ability to enforce mandatory arbitration as the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Assembly Bill 51 (AB 51), which prohibited “forced arbitration” as a condition of employment, was pre-empted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
After years of litigation, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling upholds a federal district court’s preliminary injunction that temporarily blocked California from enforcing AB 51 and all but guarantees that AB 51 will never be enforceable. While California could seek review from the Ninth Circuit (en banc) or the Supreme Court of the United States, given the Supreme Court’s line of cases upholding FAA pre-emption, we think this decision will stand.
That said, US President Joe Biden’s Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (HR 4445) must not be ignored. Employers may include sexual harassment and sexual assault claims in a voluntary arbitration agreement, but an employee may choose to file these particular claims in court.
New Jersey Healthcare Transactions Now Face Onerous Employment Requirements
As of November 16, 2022, New Jersey Senate Bill No. 315 (S-315) has come into effect. The bill introduces fresh employment protections for qualifying employees of select private healthcare organizations that experience a “change in control.” The legislation mandates several obligations, such as giving prior notice, extending job offers to eligible employees, and providing improved job security against termination for a minimum of four months post-transaction. To avoid employment-related lawsuits and penalties, healthcare employers and investors in New Jersey must ensure compliance with these regulations.
The Bosses May Be Back in Charge (but Not as Much as They Think)
CEOs may think they are fully in control of their workforces, but this belief may be more of an illusion than reality. In this Forbes article, McDermott Partner Michael Peregrine says certain pandemic-era changes to their authority may be more lasting than they realize–especially as it relates to their dynamic with the board of directors.
NLRB Attacks Non-Disparagement and Confidentiality Clauses in Employee Releases, Severance Agreements
Employers, especially in the context of workforce reductions, may provide departing employees with severance agreements in exchange for a release. Those agreements often include non-disparagement clauses and confidentiality clauses regarding the terms and the amount of the agreement. On February 21, 2023, in McLaren Macomb, the National Labor Relations Board held that such clauses infringe on employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Importantly, McLaren applies to both unionized and non-unionized workplaces alike.
US Supreme Court Rules Highly Compensated Employee Is Not Exempt from Overtime
On February 22, 2023, the US Supreme Court held in Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt that an employee who was paid nearly $1,000 each day he worked was not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and therefore owed overtime for the work he did. This case turned on an interpretation of the FLSA regulations, which exempt from the overtime requirement certain bona fide executive, administrative and professional employees.