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2019 Labor Law Updates

2018 was quite a year in employment law especially for employers of hourly workers.  The trends of 2018 will continue through 2019 including Department of Homeland Security worksite investigations, gun legislation, tipped wage changes, and the continued state trends of legalizing marijuana.  

ICE Raids


There were almost 7000 worksite investigations under the Department of Homeland Security in 2018.  Almost monthly, there were headline stories about Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids of worksites where over 100 officers arrested more than 100 employees per location.  Construction, farming, and the restaurant industry appear to be the clear targets of worksite raids and investigations.


We expect these raids to continue in 2019.  It is important now more than ever to ensure that your I-9s meet government standards.  Be sure you review this quick guide  about how to accurately complete an I-9.  


Should ICE arrive at your worksite here are a few quick tips: 


  1. Request that officers identify themselves.
  2. Request to see the officer’s warrant.  If they do not have a warrant, contact legal counsel immediately.  
  3. Assign an employee to accompany ICE officers through your worksite.  
  4. Should any employees be detained, contact their next of kin immediately.  
  5. Be sure that you update your emergency contacts for all employees so that you are able to notify an employee’s family if they are detained.


Find more tips about your rights as an employer here.  


Tipped Wages


In 2018 rules about payment of tipped wages were updated clarifying that supervisory employees may not share their employee’s tips.  The key changes include:


  • Employers and management may not keep any portion of an employee’s tip.  
  • If an employer pays tipped employees full minimum wage, tip pooling is allowed between tipped and traditionally non-tipped (back-of-house) employees.  
  • Check your state law and Homebase’s recent article for more information on tipped wages and tip pooling regulations.


Firearm Policies


Although there was continued increase of gun violence and legislation debate about updating gun laws, before you revamp your business’s firearm possession policy, check your state law.  Though employers can ban guns in the workplace, almost half of states have a law protecting an individual’s right to store a gun in their personal vehicle. A company policy that does not allow firearms on company premises including a parking lot may be in violation of your state law.  


Legalization of Marijuana


Michigan became the 10th state to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state and Washington, D.C.  Missouri and Utah legalized medical marijuana, bringing the number of states to approve medical marijuana use to 32, according to U.S. News & World Report.


Employers don’t have to tolerate someone being high at work. But before taking action against someone who uses medical marijuana, consider whether there is a reasonable accommodation.  Whether employers will have to accommodate medical marijuana is currently being debated in the courts. It is likely that in 2019 we will get a definitive answer on the issue but tread lightly in the meantime.  Read more about this issue here.


State Trends


At the state level, several states passed laws related to paid sick leave, mandatory retirement accounts, and anti-harassment updates.  Here are a few of the highlights for upcoming 2019 State Laws to look out for.


2019 Connecticut Labor Laws


Connecticut passed legislation requiring employers with 5 or more employee to provide employees with a retirement account.  Under the Connecticut statute, eligible employees who do not receive pensions or have 401(k) plans from their employers will be automatically enrolled in the state IRA plan.   


2019 California Labor Laws

Notable updates in California for 2019 include an expansion of lactation protections and anti-harassment training requirements.

  • Employers must provide lactating employees with a private area to express milk that is not a bathroom.  
  • Employers with five or more employees must provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020, and once every two years thereafter.


2019  New York Labor Laws


New York City updated its requirements for communicating anti-harassment protocols to employees.    


2019 Texas Labor Laws

The City of San Antonio now requires 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked for employees within the city of San Antonio.  


2019 Washington Employment Laws

The state of Washington requires employers to provide 12 weeks of paid time-off for the birth/adoption of a child, or for the serious medical condition of the employee or the employee’s family members.

For more information or clarification on these employment law trends, employers should contact legal counsel.  This article is not legal advice.


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