Don’t say you weren’t warned: There’s good chance these new laws are precursors to legislation you may soon see in your state or city.
The ink is still wet on these laws, which may help shape widespread employment law changes in this country:
Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act
Where: New York City.
When: Becomes effective September 2015.
What: The law prohibits most employers from using credit reports or bankruptcies to disqualify job candidates or when making employment decisions regarding current employees. It also gives aggrieved applicants and employees the right to sue employers for using their credit history in employment decisions.
Note: It’s one of the broadest credit check laws in the country, as its definition of “credit history” includes any information obtained from applicants or employees relating to their credit history, including info on credit accounts, late or missed payments, charged-off debts, items in collections, credit limit and prior credit inquiries.
The law applies to all city employers with at least four employees. Limited exceptions include:
- law enforcement personnel
- financial services workers
- employees with signatory power over assets of $10,000 or more, and
- workers with access to trade secrets or national security info.
Clean Air Bill: Act 19 (HB 940)
When: Becomes effective January 2016.
What: The law bans the use of electronic smoking devices — such as e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes and any smoking device that needs a cartridge to operate — in existing smoke-free zones, namely enclosed or partially enclosed workplaces.
Note: Hawaii joins North Dakota, New Jersey and Utah in passing legislation banning the use of electronic smoking devices in smoke-free zones. There is still much debate over the potential health risks of electronic cigarettes, and the manufacturing process for the products isn’t as heavily regulated as that of cigarettes. In other words, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the products. As a result, governing bodies are starting to take proactive steps to protect workers should the products prove to be unhealthy.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: LB627
When: September 2015.
What: The law amends the state’s Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, and requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for employees with known physical limitations resulting from pregnancy or childbirth, unless it would cause an undue hardship.
Note: The law represents an expansion from federal discrimination law in that it requires employees to accommodate any employee experiencing medical problems related to pregnancy or childbirth so long as it is reasonable to do so. Employers would have to prove an accommodation would “require great difficulty or expense” to deny providing one. Under federal law, employers are required to provide pregnant employees with a reasonable accommodation, as long as they accommodate other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.