At the start of the New Year, many states will see new changes to their laws that protect employees. While some of these laws are in response to the pandemic, law makers were still able to focus on passing legislation that addresses a variety of unrelated issues as well. Of the states enacting new protections, three of note are Colorado, Maryland and Minnesota.
Passed in May of 2019, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act will go into effect starting January 1st
This Act is meant to prevent pay disparities and addresses the discussion of wages in both the hiring process and for current employees of a company.
As it relates to the hiring process, employers will be expressly prohibited from trying to obtain prior compensation information from a prospective employee and furthermore cannot discriminate against a candidate who does not disclose this information.
For existing employees, employers are prohibited from taking any retaliatory action against an employee who discloses their wages, presumably to co-workers. Also of note, employers must disclose all advancement opportunities or openings and the associated pay range for those opportunities.
Employers face steep penalties for violating this act to the tune of $500-$10,000 per violation.
Throughout 2020 Maryland amended and introduced numerous labor laws. These laws are in response to the economic crisis created by the pandemic and also related to more longstanding workplace issues such as wages, discrimination and workplace safety.
In November of 2019 the County Council for Montgomery County signed into law Bill 12-19, Human Rights and Civil Liberties – Building Maintenance Worker – Minimum Work Week. This law, which covers certain building maintenance workers, requires that a minimum of 30 work hours be afforded to those under the bill’s purview. Montgomery County is Maryland’s largest county, which means this legislation will likely impact a high number of building owners and their staff.
This new law will take effect at the start of 2021 and those found in violation are subject to a number of penalties, including compensation for reasonable attorney’s fees, personal injury and payment of no more than $500,000 in damages for “humiliation and embarrassment”.
The City of Minneapolis voted into law the Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance (FWPO) in the summer of 2020. With an effective date of January 2021, this ordinance places a “commercial hiring party” and an “individual hiring party” under different requirements. A commercial hiring party, which most businesses would be classified under, is required to supply a contract for work to be completed and is also liable for penalties in the event of non-compliance. A first-time violation could result in compensatory and liquated damages, which would mean payment for the services under contract and an additional payment equal to the same amount, which would fall under liquidated damages.
With new legislation on the books, some states may see an increase in violations and employment lawsuits. eGen can help your firm grow its caseload and take advantage of these new laws. For more information about our exclusive employment and labor law leads, contact us today.