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SHRM Newsletter: Utah Legislature to Consider Anti-Work-Bias and Nepotism Bills
Posted on Jan. 27, 2015

This is Utah SHRM Legal-mail no. 2015-2 prepared for Salt Lake SHRM, the Human Resources Association of Central Utah (HRACU), the Northern Utah Human Resources Association (NUHRA), the Color Country Human Resources Association (CCHRA), the Bridgerland Society for Human Resource Management and Utah at-large members of the national Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

CONTENTS: 

-  UTAH LEGISLATURE TO CONSIDER ANTI-WORK-BIAS AND NEPOTISM BILLS

-  EMPLOYMENT LAW LOOMS LARGE IN STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH

-  ANTI-BULLYING TRAINING NOW MANDATORY IN CALIFORNIA

-  TREND CONTINUES AGAINST INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS

-  DISNEY, MEASLES AND BACKGROUND CHECK LAWSUITS

UTAH LEGISLATURE TO CONSIDER ANTI-WORK-BIAS AND NEPOTISM BILLS: The Utah Legislature opens its annual session on Monday, January 26, 2015 and runs through March 12, 2015. Among other items, the Legislature will consider two bills to further restrict discrimination in the workplace. HB 105, sponsored by Rep. Justin Miller, would prohibit discrimination based on “breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding.” Among other things, that bill adds those characteristics to the list of protected classes in Utah (see: http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/HB0105.html.) Another bill (still being drafted and to be sponsored by Sen. Stephen Urquhart) would prohibit job bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Finally, HB 73 (by Rep. Bruce Cutler) would expand the current prohibitions on a public officer from employing a relative to include grandparents, grandchildren and stepchildren. This bill can be read here: http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/HB0073.html. Here is where you can get a list of your state representative (http://le.utah.gov/house2/representatives.jsp) and senator (http://www.utahsenate.org/aspx/roster.aspx) and learn how to contact them. Lawmakers want to hear from HR professionals on legislation that impacts the profession, so please contact them.

ANTI-BULLYING TRAINING NOW MANDATORY IN CALIFORNIA: A new California law that took effect on January 1, 2015 requires employers with 50 or more employees to add anti-bullying education to their training programs. The new law requires that supervisors be trained every two years regarding “abusive conduct” which is defined to include “the conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.” By definition, the law includes such behavior as insults, derogatory remarks, physical conduct and “gratuitous sabotage” of a person’s performance, whatever that is. More information is available here: http://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/bullying-be-gone-%E2%80%93-new-california-law-makes-anti-bullying-training-emp.

EMPLOYMENT LAW LOOMS LARGE IN STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH: HR law issues were prominently featured in President Barack Obama’s recent annual State of the Union address to Congress. The President referred to his efforts to make overtime pay more available to more workers. He urged Congress to raise the minimum wage and enact legislation requiring that employees receive a minimum amount of paid leave from employers. The President also proposed programs to help workers enhance their skills (e.g. free community college) and asked employers to hire military veterans. National SHRM’s response to the President’s initiatives can be found here: http://www.shrm.org/about/pressroom/pressreleases/pages/2015stateofunion.aspx and here: http://www.shrm.org/publications/hrnews/pages/2015-state-of-the-union-hr-.aspx.

TREND CONTINUES AGAINST INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS: The New Jersey Supreme Court has issued a decision continuing a nationwide trend to make it more difficult for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors. Under the New Jersey approach (called the “ABC” test), a worker is considered to be an employee unless a business shows that: (A) the business did not exercise control over the worker, or have the ability to exercise control over completion of the work; (B) the services provided were outside the usual course of the company’s business or done outside of all the places of business of the enterprise; and (C) the worker has a profession that will persist despite the end of the work relationship with the company.  

DISNEY, MEASLES AND BACKGROUND CHECK LAWSUITS: It has been a tough couple of weeks for the Disney Company. First, they have been dealing with the measles outbreak at Disneyland. Now comes word from a California Judge that she will allow a class action suit dealing with background checks to go forward. In the lawsuit, brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), applicants claim that Disney used background reports to make hiring decisions without sending copies of the reports to the applicants. The plaintiffs claim they were denied the chance to correct inaccurate reports before they were used in adverse employment decisions. At Disney Parks around the World, the court’s ruling was explained this way: “The judge was Enchanted by the claims and says the plaintiffs get a chance to prove that we were Goofy and Dopey and ran a Mickey Mouse background check operation. Disney’s request to dismiss the claim was Frozen out by the court, which will not just Let it Go.”

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Author

mikeAttorney Michael
Patrick O'Brien

Mike O’Brien is an experienced and accomplished employment attorney, media lawyer and courtroom litigator.  He is active in SHRM and has received the highest possible reviews from rating services like Martindale - Hubbell (AV rating), Chambers USA, Utah Business Legal Elite, Best Lawyers in America, Who’s Who Legal USA, and SuperLawyers.  HR Executive Online has named him as one of America’s most powerful 100 employment lawyers, but keep in mind, this does not mean he is good at moving heavy furniture.

Awards and Recognition

OBrienAV

OBrien Best

Chambers 2011 Attorney

Super Lawyers
Michael Patrick O'Brien
 

Best Lawyers In America, “Salt Lake City Best Lawyers Employment Law Lawyer Of The Year,” 2011-2012

Best Lawyers In America, First Amendment Law, Labor And Employment Law, 2005-2012

Chambers USA, Labor & Employment, 2003-2011

Employment Lawyer Of The Year, Utah State Bar, 2001

Human Resources Executive, Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Lawyers In America, 2010

Mountain States Super Lawyers, 2007-2012

Utah Business Magazine, Legal Elite, Labor And Employment, 2006-2012