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01/07/2019

Regulatory Wrap-Up: Weekly recap of retail-related legislative developments—Jan. 7

Wages

Colorado - Several legislators announced support for an “anti-preemption” bill to allow localities to set their own minimum wages above the state’s scheduled increase to $12/hr by 2020. Efforts to do so in past cycles failed in the senate, which is now controlled by Democrats for the first time in several years making passage more likely.

Michigan - The outgoing governor signed into law a bill that delays the state’s scheduled minimum wage increase and reestablishes the tipped wage. The final language extends the phase-in period to 2030 for a $12.05/hr minimum wage with no CPI escalator. Furthermore, the phase-in could be stretched out even later if the unemployment rate is 8.5 percent or higher. The tipped wage is capped at $4.38/hr. Advocates for the increase may initiate litigation and they could also refile for the 2020 ballot.

Michigan - The outgoing governor signed a bill into law that places additional requirements on citizen initiatives in the state. Under the new law, signatures for potential ballot initiatives must come from at least seven of the state’s 14 congressional districts and no more than 15 percent of total signatures can come from any one district. Additionally, paid signature gatherers must register with the secretary of state’s office

New Mexico - Democrats have introduced two bills to raise the state’s minimum wage. One bill targets $12/hr and the other $15/hr. Democrats took over the state senate in the last legislative cycle making the chances of wage increase legislation more likely.

New York - The state labor department established a hotline for workers to report employers that are not following current minimum wage law. The state is in the process of raising its minimum wage to $15/hr for most workers in the state. The current minimum for employers with eleven or more employees elevated to $15/hr on Dec. 31.

Paid Leave

Colorado - State legislators announced plans to introduce paid family leave bills mandating employers participate in a yet-to-be-determined insurance program for their employees’ paid leave. Efforts to pass similar legislation in past cycles failed in the senate, but because it is now controlled by Democrats, passage of some type of paid leave plan is more likely.

Minnesota - Lawmakers are actively discussing a paid family leave program. Democrats had introduced language in the past that called for employers to share in the cost of a paid leave program. Republicans, who control the state senate, have blocked those proposals in the past but have now formed a committee focused on family issues. The chair of that committee has publicly stated her intent to work on a solution for paid leave.

New York - Governor Cuomo vetoed legislation mandating companies offer at least twelve weeks of bereavement leave. The governor had previously expressed support for the concept but cited technical and cost concerns with the program in his veto message.

Albuquerque, NM - The city council passed a law extending paid family leave to city employees. Albuquerque has seen local efforts to increase minimum wages and benefits for private sector employees and this recent action could lead to a broader initiative down the road impacting private employers.

Best Buy - The tech retailer announced an expansion of their benefits program to include 10 days/yr of subsidized backup child care for parents whose regular child care plans fall through.

Scheduling

Philadelphia, PA - Mayor Kenney signed the city’s “fair work week” ordinance into law. The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Labor Policy

Washington - Attorney General Ferguson continues to add franchisors to the list of entities that have signed legally binding agreements to eliminate no-poaching practices from their franchise agreements nationwide. The latest list of seven firms include Jack in the Box, Jackson Hewitt, Jiffy Lube, Menchie’s, Budget Blinds and The Original Pancake House. The seven companies join 39 other businesses who have agreed to similar stipulations.

Amazon - Workers at Amazon fulfillment centers in New York and Minnesota continue to make the case for unionization despite the company establishing a $15/hr entry level wage. Workers continue to complain about the pace of work especially during the holiday season as well as other working conditions at the fulfillment centers.

Joint Employer

Federal - In a split 2-1 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Obama-era joint employer standard was partially upheld by the court, remanding the issue to the NLRB for further clarification. The court may have created more questions than answers (as the dissenting judge noted) and further lengthened any final resolution on the issue. Many speculate that this ruling will almost ensure that when the NLRB releases its new rule (which is currently in drafting and is expected to overturn the Obama-era precedent) it will be challenged in the courts and the U.S. Supreme Court may have the final say on the issue.

NLRB - Peter Robb, the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, criticized the Board’s proposed joint employer rule for not going far enough. Most management side attorneys and organizations had praised the rule as reverting the standard back to a pre-Obama definition providing clarity for franchise businesses. Robb’s critique that the rule could and should go further surprised many observers. The rule’s comment period was recently extended to Jan. 14, after which the Board is expected to take action.

New York City, NY - A series of amendments have been made to the proposed joint employer legislation under the city’s human rights law. The amendments offer some limits on potential liabili