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Employment Law This Week®: Pay Data Collection, Strengthening Worker Protections, NJ’s “Wage Theft” Legislation [VIDEO]

This Employment Law This Week® Monthly Rundown discusses the most important developments for employers heading into September 2019. The episode includes:

1. DOJ Appeals Ruling on Pay Data Collection

There has been more pushback around EEO-1 federal pay data collection. On August 16, the Department of Justice appealed a district court’s ruling that reinstated the Obama-era pay data collection rule. This appeal comes just before the September 30 collection deadline, but the briefing schedule in this appeal extends beyond September 30, so there is little chance of resolution before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) reporting deadline. Commissioner Victoria Lipnic has said that “nothing will stop” an employer’s obligation to submit the data on time. The appeal raises significant questions about whether and how the data will be used.

“The Justice Department claims that the court erred in two ways. One, that it found that the plaintiffs below had standing to bring the suit, and, second, that the court erred in directing, specifically, EEOC in how to do the data collection. We’re recommending to clients to continue to prepare for the filing, but to hold for a bit until the end of September—prior to the deadline—but hold until we have a little bit more clarity from the court about what direction this could go. The interesting thing about this data collection exercise has been about pay equity more generally. What is the purpose in conducting a pay equity audit? The purpose of doing an audit, under privilege, we would recommend, is to find out what’s going on in your own comp system. Not to say that you’re being discriminatory in any way, shape, or form, but to really understand what’s going on. Every time you hire someone or terminate someone, you change the pay scales or the pay direction that your organization is in. So, looking at it routinely is a good practice. It’s a good business tool to manage your workforce.” —Robert O’Hara, Member of the Firm, Epstein Becker Green

2. State Legislation Strengthens Worker Protections

More worker protections are coming online in states across the country. New York passed new legislation that prohibits discrimination based on religious facial hair or clothing, or other religious attire. The new law comes as part of a package of legislation that increases worker protections in harassment and discrimination claims and settlements. This expands upon last year’s groundbreaking sexual harassment legislation. In Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed similar comprehensive legislation that, among other things, limits arbitration agreements and non-disclosure clauses, mandates sexual harassment training, and extends job-protected leave to victims of gender violence. The Illinois legislation goes into effect January 1, 2020.

3. New Jersey Enacts Sweeping “Wage Theft” Legislation

New Jersey has enacted sweeping new legislation that includes heavy penalties for the failure to pay wages. New Jersey employers could now face triple damages for wage claims, and even for typical contract claims. And the new law also extends the statute of limitations for minimum wage and overtime claims.

“The law became effective immediately upon signing on August 6. Whether it will be retroactive is an issue that’s likely to be decided by the court. However, the New Jersey Department of Labor appears to have taken the position that it is retroactive. Among the things that employers should do now are—one, make doubly sure that all your employees and independent contractors are properly classified. Two, ensure that your non-exempt employees record every minute of their time. Three, review your employment agreements, including your commission plans and bonus plans and executive agreements, to make sure there are no ambiguities. And, where possible, include that payment is dependent on employer discretion. And four, don’t forget about your handbook. Make sure your contract disclaimer is airtight.” —Maxine Neuhauser, Member of the Firm, Epstein Becker Green

Click here for more information: https://www.ebglaw.com/news/new-jersey-enacts-sweeping-wage-theft-law/

Stay tuned for further developments that may affect your business.

©2019 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.

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About this Author

Maxine Neuhauser, EpsteinBeckerGreen, Life Science, Employment, Health Care
Member

MAXINE NEUHAUSER is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment and Health Care and Life Sciences practices, in the Newark office of Epstein Becker Green. Her practice focuses on litigation and providing strategic advice and counsel to regional, national, and international corporations, in multiple areas of law, including labor and employment, intellectual property and non-competes, and health. Ms. Neuhauser has represented clients in numerous, diverse industries, including financial services, aviation, managed care, life sciences, and retail. She also represents...

973-639-8269
Robert J. O’Hara Labor and employment lawyer Epstein Becker
Member of the Firm

ROBERT J. O’HARA* is a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. His practice focuses on employment law counseling and litigation as well as human resources counseling, compliance, and training.

Mr. O’Hara’s experience includes:

  • Conducting and overseeing workplace investigations (including sexual harassment, bribery, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, product quality, supply chain theft, and malfeasance of every kind), executive terminations, and government audits
  • Representing employers in federal and state trial and appellate courts in matters involving breach of employment contracts, alleged wage and hour violations, alleged wrongful terminations, harassment and discrimination claims, and other employment law issues
  • Successfully defending more than 300 compliance audits by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Wage and Hour Division
212-351-3708
George Carroll Whipple III, Epstein Becker Green, Workforce Management Lawyer, Hiring Matters Attorney
Member

GEORGE CARROLL WHIPPLE, III, is a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor, and Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. He hosts the firm's innovative weekly video program, Employment Law This Week.

Mr. Whipple:

  • Counsels employers on workplace issues, including hiring and promotion, firing and discipline, wage and hour, and the implementation of employment policies, to ensure compliance with federal and state laws

  • ...
212-351-3773