CSA Regulatory Wrap-Up
News

Regulatory Wrap-Up: Scheduling, paid leave in the spotlight in several states

BY CSA Staff

Wages

Tipped Wage: The National Employment Law Project and the Restaurant Opportunities Center released a report this week aimed at discrediting the Labor Department’s proposed tip pooling regulation. The study states that over half of earnings for waiters (59%) and bartenders (54%) come from tips and the new rule would allow companies to take that money from workers, depriving them of a substantial portion of their income.

St. Paul, MN: The Citizen’s League, a nonpartisan public interest group, is holding “listening sessions” in conjunction with the city as the council considers a wage increase similar to the recently enacted $15/hr minimum wage in Minneapolis. Part of the discussion centers on adopting a local tip credit (which is unlikely).

Paid Leave

MarylandThe General Assembly voted to override the governor’s veto of paid leave legislation that passed both chambers during the 2017 session. The bill is slated to become law in 30 days but could be extended to 90 days to allow for more time to comply. The law requires employers with 15 or more workers to provide five days of paid leave a year and applies to full, part time and seasonal employees. The bill contains no preemption language so localities in the state could still pass more generous proposals as is the case currently in Montgomery County, MD.

New Hampshire: A paid leave bill passed its first reading in the house and is moving through the committee process. The bipartisan bill allows workers up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave funded by participating employee quarterly contributions capped at .5 percent of weekly wages. The bipartisan bill has been well received and will likely have enough support and momentum to ultimately be enacted.

Scheduling

New Jersey: With the election of Phil Murphy as governor, the state is returning to full Democratic control and progressive legislation is expected to advance quickly. This week restrictive scheduling legislation modeled off other jurisdictions like San Francisco and Seattle was introduced in the senate. While wage and paid leave legislation are expected to be the first priorities, scheduling legislation could also become a priority of leadership.

Taxes

Supreme Court: The U.S. Supreme Court announced they would hear the landmark Wayfair v. South Dakota case regarding the requirement that out of state sellers collect the state’s sales tax. The decision to hear the case was praised by the brick and mortar retail community as well as state governments that are currently barred from enforcing collection on many out of state sellers with no physical connection to the state. The case will be heard later this year and the announcement could increase pressure on Congress to finally act to level the playing field for both online and offline retailers.

Health Care

Federal: The Trump administration released a guidance document which allows for states to apply for specific waivers to their Medicaid programs. The guidance was released in response to several requests from states to require some Medicaid recipients to work in order to receive benefits. Opposition groups will likely bring a legal challenge questioning the authority of the administrative action without the consent of Congress.

Joint Employer

Supreme Court: The Supreme Court declined to take up the case Hall v. DirecTV. The Fourth Circuit ruled that DirecTV and its subcontractor were joint employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act because the two were not “completely disassociated.” This determination stands in contrast to the NLRB’s recent reversal of the Obama-era Browning-Ferris decision. For now, employers who depend on the franchising model or third-party contractors will need to keep an eye on further agency action and applicable circuit precedent.

NLRB: The Teamsters union has filed a suit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to restore the Browning-Ferris Industries precedent established under the Obama-era NLRB. The current NLRB overturned that precedent and the union is arguing that William Emanuel should have recused himself due to a conflict of interest.

Labor Policy

Labor Department: Signaling a focus on compliance as opposed to the Obama-era focus on enforcement, Secretary Acosta revived a collection of opinion letters issued to employers in 2009 that were withdrawn under the Obama administration. The practice of issuing fact-based opinion letters specific to individual companies regarding their overtime and wage requirements is the preferred method of providing guidance to employers regarding their wage obligations under the law.

NLRB: President Trump officially nominated lawyer John Ring to serve on the National Labor Relations Board, replacing fellow Republican Philip Miscimarra whose term expired in December. Ring’s nomination needs to be approved by the Senate. Once seated, his placement will reestablish a 3-2 Republican majority on the board.

New York City, NY:  Several labor groups announced this week new revenue streams as a result of the 2016 city ordinance which allows fast food employees to insist their employer automatically deduct charitable contributions out of their paychecks and forward the money to a nonprofit of the employee’s choosing. Fast Food Justice announced that 1200 workers have agreed to contribute $13.50/mo. to the new organization which will work to advance higher minimum wages, affordable housing and immigration reform among other issues. The Restaurant Law Center has initiated a legal challenge to the city law.

Swipe Fees

Visa: Visa announced last week that it will move away from requiring signatures for most transactions beginning in April. Similar announcements from Mastercard, Discover, and American Express showcase the obsolete nature of the security measure. Merchants welcome the change as it will reduce transaction times for customers and could drive down interchange fee costs for the more expensive signature method.

Transportation

Los Angeles, CA: The city attorney filed a lawsuit against several port trucking companies alleging that truckers have allegedly been misclassified as independent contractors instead of regular employees resulting in exploitation and wage theft. The three companies, CMI Transportation, K&R Transportation and Cal Cartage Transportation have been the center of numerous complaints brought by truckers and were also featured in a series of expose stories published last year by USA Today. It is unclear if neighboring Long Beach, which jointly operates the LA/LB port, will take similar action.

Key Takeaways

• The decision by the Supreme Court to take up the South Dakota online sales tax case will have major reverberations throughout the state tax law community. Since the decision will not come until late spring at the earliest, state legislatures will continue to pursue legislative solutions that allow them more collection authority. The case could also spark renewed interest in federal legislation that would provide protections for smaller online sellers, protections that will not likely be granted in a narrower court decision.  Merchants, both online and traditional, should pay very close attention to this case and the reactions of state policy makers.

• According to ICE officials, the 7-11 immigration raids this week are the first in what will be many more enforcement actions. A key tactic in the president’s overall approach to immigration is to portray some employers (often entry-level employers) as “magnets” for undocumented workers. As Trump plays to his base, employers will be portrayed as the villain. Since 2018 is an election year, employers need to prepare for both reputational challenges as well as the operational disruptions that these high-profile events entail.

• While Walmart’s increase in their starting wage to $11/hr is drawing national headlines, its commitment to 10 weeks of paid parental leave for full-time workers may be the most noteworthy development. That benefit level sets a new marker within the retail community that has implications for all employers in the fight to attract and retain quality workers.

Legislature Status for Week of 1/15/18

• The United States Senate is in session this week
• The United States House is in session this week
• Thirty-four state legislatures are meeting actively this week: AL, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VT, WA, WV

Podcast

Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.

 

The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

Polls

Do you think retail brands should steer clear of taking a stance on social and political issues?
News

Jeff Bezos writes big check to help ‘dreamers’

BY CSA Staff

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will help 1,000 “dreamers” go to college.

Bezos, whose adoptive father immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba, and his wife MacKenzie, have made a $33 million grant to the nation’s largest scholarship program for dreamers, the undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The grant to TheDream.US is the largest in the organization’s history.

The donation by the Bezos will give 1,000 undocumented immigrant graduates of U.S. high schools with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status the opportunity to go to college, the organization said. Candy Marshall, president of TheDream.US., called the donation “a shot in the arm for Dreamer students at a time when some are questioning whether they should be in the United States at all.”

The donation comes as legislators and the White House struggle to come up with a deal to address the status of the young undocumented immigrants who could face deportation when DACA winds down, as ordered in September by President Trump, in March. It also comes as Trump continues his thinly veiled criticism of Bezos, citing his concern about Amazon’s impact on the U.S. Postal Service.

Dreamers – 800,000 of whom have received DACA status since 2012 – face a variety of challenges when it comes to attending college. They are ineligible for federal grants and loans, and get no state aid in 44 states. They also must pay out-of-state or international tuition, which often more than three times in-state tuition in more than 15 states.

In his statement, Bezos cited the experience of his father, who came to the U.S. from Cuba when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan.

“He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English,” Bezos said. “With a lot of grit and determination – and the help of some remarkable organizations in Delaware – my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways.”

TheDream.US partners with more than 70 low-cost colleges in 15 states. Dreamers receive a total of $33,000 in scholarship aid over four years to help pay the cost of tuition, fees and books. 2,850 students are currently enrolled in college under the program.

Mike and Jackie Bezos (parents of Jeff) are also among the early donors to TheDream.US., as is The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have also donated to the fund, which was established by Donald Graham, the former publisher of The Washington Post. He sold the company to Bezos in 2013.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

Polls

Do you think retail brands should steer clear of taking a stance on social and political issues?
News

Petco broadens pet service offerings

BY Marianne Wilson

Petco is delving deeper into pet medical care with the expansion of in-store veterinary services.

The pet supplies and services retailer has opened in-store veterinary hospitals in its stores in Menifee, California, and Highland Village, Texas. Petco opened its first veterinary hospital in October 2017, in Aldine, Texas. It is operated by Thrive Affordable Vet Care, which will also operate the hospital in California. The facility in Texas will be operated by The Pet Vet.

The Pet Vet hospital will offer full-service medical and urgent care seven days a week, spay and neuter, full in-house diagnostic laboratory equipment, advanced ultrasounds, dentistry and more. The Thrive facilities offer a large suite of services as well.

“While pet health and wellness are increasingly important to pet parents, navigating veterinary services in particular can be confusing and overwhelming,” Petco CEO Brad Weston said at the opening of Petco’s first in-store veterinary hospital. “Understanding what pets need at each stage of life, what constitutes routine care, urgent or specialty care, and when to seek veterinary expertise are common challenges pet parents face. By expanding our in-store veterinary services, Petco’s veterinary professionals can help pet parents through every step of their pets’ health and wellness needs, all in one convenient location.”

In addition, Petco will also celebrate the grand opening of a new store in Reisterstown, Md., this month.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

Polls

Do you think retail brands should steer clear of taking a stance on social and political issues?