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SHRM Newsletter: Utah Legislature...Two Weeks to Go!
Posted on Feb. 26, 2015

This is Utah SHRM Legal-mail no. 2015-4 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…TWO WEEKS TO GO!

-  UTAH LEGISLATURE AND ANTIDISCRIMINATION BILLS

-  NLRB RULE ALLOWS USE OF EMPLOYER EMAIL FOR LABOR ORGANIZING

-  GIVING FMLA TO INELIGIBLE WORKERS MAY MAKE THEM ELIGIBLE

-  SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENT ON RELIGIOUS GARB CASE

UTAH LEGISLATURE…TWO WEEKS TO GO! The Utah Legislature is in session until March 12, 2015 and has addressed a number of HR law issues. Second Substitute HB 73 (by Rep. Bruce Cutler) expands the current prohibitions on a public officer from employing a relative. This bill was passed by the House, and likely also will be approved by the Senate (see: http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/HB0073.html. The House and a Senate Committee have approved HB 232 (see: http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/HB0232.html), which will allow employers to set up veteran hiring preferences without violating the Utah Antidiscrimination Act. The Legislature likely will not raise the minimum wage for tipped employees (see HB 236 at http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/HB0236.html ) or legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes (see SB 259 http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0259.html). Make your voice heard on these bills! Go here to get contact information for your state representative (http://le.utah.gov/house2/representatives.jsp) and/or for your state senator (http://www.utahsenate.org/aspx/roster.aspx). Lawmakers want to hear from HR professionals on legislation that impacts the profession, so please contact them.

UTAH LEGISLATURE AND ANTIDISCRIMINATION BILLS: The Utah House passed Sub HB 105, which prohibits discrimination based on “breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding” (see: http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/HB0105.html). The bill is now pending in the Utah Senate.  Another anti-discrimination bill, SB 100 sponsored by Sen. Stephen Urquhart, prohibits (on a state-wide basis) job bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity. About 20 cities and counties in Utah already prohibit such discrimination. The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee and appears to be stalled. You can read SB 100 here: http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0100.html.

NLRB RULE ALLOWS USE OF EMPLOYER EMAIL FOR LABOR ORGANIZING: A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concludes that employees should be presumptively allowed to use an employer’s email system for labor organizing purposes. The rule basically states that if an employer allows employees to use email at all, employers typically cannot restrict use of that platform for purposes allowed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), including discussion of terms and conditions of employment. The NLRB did indicate such use can be limited to nonworking time, provided that such a rule is applied consistently. You may want to review your email usage policy and verify it does not run afoul of this new ruling.

GIVING FMLA TO INELIGIBLE WORKERS MAY MAKE THEM ELIGIBLE: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to give FMLA leave only to those employees who are eligible, i.e. have been employed for 12 months, worked 1250 hours during the last 12 months and work within 75 miles of a site employing 50 or more employees. What happens if an employer gives FMLA leave to an ineligible employee? A recent court decision indicates that makes them legally eligible.  The case involved an employer which, in a policy statement, did not limit leave to those persons within 75 miles of a site employing 50 or more employees. An otherwise-ineligible employee sued, claiming that the broad policy statement gave him FMLA rights. A federal appeals court said the employee may be right and has ordered that the case go to trial.

SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENT ON RELIGIOUS GARB CASE: The United States Supreme Court recently heard arguments on a case involving the wearing of religious garb at work. The case involved a Muslim woman who wore a religious scarf (hijab) to an interview for a job as a store model with a retailer, She was not hired. She did not notify the potential employer she wore the scarf for religious reasons. The store concluded she did not satisfy its “look policy” for store models. The applicant sued, claiming religious discrimination. The issue before the Supreme Court centers on whether the retailer knew it was making a decision based on the applicant’s religious practice and whether the applicant had a duty to notify the store about the same. A decision is expected in early Summer.

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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

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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