Maryland on Track to Join Growing Trend of Paid Sick Leave

crutchesOn April 5, 2017, the Maryland General Assembly passed a paid sick leave bill – the
Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (the “Act”) – that is now waiting for Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s approval.  Governor Hogan has opposed the Act and publicly vowed to veto the bill if it passed – stating that the bill would be “dead on arrival.”  However, the bill is likely to become law in the next legislative session, even if Governor Hogan does veto it, because the bill garnered enough votes in both chambers of the legislature to override a veto.

Governor Hogan had introduced an alternative sick leave bill that would have required businesses with 50 or more employees to provide five paid sick days a year and offered tax incentives to smaller businesses that voluntarily agreed to do so.  He had urged lawmakers to negotiate with him and create a bill more like the version he proposed, stating he would not support a sick leave law unless it provides flexibility and support for smaller businesses.  However, no negotiation occurred and Governor Hogan’s bill never made it out of committee.

If the law does pass, Maryland will join Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont and Washington as states with laws requiring employers to offer paid sick leave, in addition to the District of Columbia, Montgomery County in Maryland, and several other localities across the country.  Maryland employers, particularly those that operate in Montgomery County and other locales in Maryland, must pay close attention to the details of the Act because it is significantly different from the more employee friendly provisions of Montgomery County’s Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act, as well as other local sick leave laws.  Continue reading

Join Us for a Webinar on Key Employment Law Issues for Small Businesses

On Wednesday April 19, 2017, Conn Maciel Carey Labor & Employment attorneys Kara M. Maciel, Jordan B. Schwartz and Andrew Sommer will be presenting a free webinar discussing key employment law issues for start-ups and other small businesses.

While large compEmployment Lawanies typically have human resources departments or in-house counsel to advise on the myriad of complex employment laws, start-ups and small businesses are often operating in the dark regarding these key issues.  However, as such companies grow and begin to hire more employees, compliance with local, state, and federal employment laws are paramount for survival.

This webinar will provide an overview of the most important employment laws, policies and practices that are of particular concern for small businesses and start-ups so that they can comply with proper pay practices and wage and hour law, become aware of applicable anti-discrimination laws, and learn proper procedures for hiring and firing, including offer letters, employment agreements and separation agreements.  Additionally, this webinar will cover the myriad of California specific laws that small businesses must be aware of prior to establishing a presence in that state.

The webinar begins at 1:00 pm ET.  You can register for the webinar here.  You can also register for Conn Maciel Carey’s entire 2017 Labor & Employment Webinar Series below:

Register me for the entire 2017 Labor & Employment Webinar series

Cybercrime and Data Breach a Rising Threat to all Employers

By:  Bryan Carey

shutterstock_217014265Over the past six months, we have observed a significant uptick in inquiries about data breach and other cyberthreats from area businesses.  We are asked about pursuing claims for recovery of funds lost due to fraud by hacking, state notification procedures in the event of a data breach affecting employees, and general questions about how to prepare or respond to other IT security problems. The whole subject area is a complex mix of technical and legal issues and it touches nearly every aspect of the current business environment. Moreover, the costs to companies that are the victims of cybercrime and data breach are significant and, unfortunately, it is no longer uncommon for the costs to bankrupt small and medium-sized businesses within a short time after the breach is discovered.

Types of cybercrime incidents                                                           

Data breach and other cyberthreats come from all quarters and they affect individuals and organizations of all sizes. Given the recent news about the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency being the subject of now infamous data thefts, including the CIA losing control of its own toolbox of hacking tricks, many employers are likely to think that there is little that can be done when the government agencies tasked to defend our country’s cybersecurity and armed with a government-sized budget have proven vulnerable. But the size and scope of cyberthreats are not exaggerated and require vigilance and defenses regardless of your organization’s size. Continue reading

Cal/OSHA’s Workplace Violence Rules for Health Care Take Effect April 2017

By Andrew J. Sommer and Eric J. Conn

Effective April 1, 2017, a new California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“Standards Board”) regulation at Title 8, Section 3342 requires certain employers in the health care industry to develop and implement a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan.  The passage of these regulations came after nearly two years of meeting and work within the Agency, and more than two years after the California legislature passed Senate Bill 1299, which instructed the Standards Board to implement these workplace violence regulations.

Rules Apply to Health Care Facilities

Senate Bill 1299 only directed the Standards Board to adopt regulations requiring licensed hospitals to adopt violence prevention plans to protect health care workers and other facility personnel from aggressive and violent behavior.  The regulations that were adopted by the Standards Board, however, apply not just to licensed hospitals, but more broadly to any “health facility,” defined as:

“any facility, place or building that is organized, maintained, and operated for diagnosis, care, prevention or treatment of human illness, physical or mental…to which [] persons are admitted for a 24-hour stay or longer.”

Additionally, the regulations apply to the following facilities regardless of their size or how long a patient stays there:

  1. Home health care and home-based hospice;
  2. Emergency medical services and medical transport, including services provided by firefighters and other emergency responders;
  3. Drug treatment programs;
  4. Outpatient medical services to the incarcerated in correctional and detention settings.

Immediate Requirement to Begin Reporting Violent Incidents

Beginning April 1, 2017, every general acute care hospital, acute psychiatric hospital and special hospital generally must report to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) any incident involving either of the following:

Continue reading

Uncertainty Surrounding Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Steps Employers Should Take

All_gender_restroom_sign_San_Diego_airportIn the current legal landscape, the scope of laws prohibiting sex discrimination remains uncertain, especially because the Supreme Court has yet to take up the issue as it relates to LGBT rights.  Most recently, the high court’s decision not to answer the question whether discrimination “on the basis of sex” prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation in a case brought by a transgender student raises many questions for employers about compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws.

However, even though this question has not been definitively resolved on the federal level and the new administration recently changed its stance on transgender issues, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has made discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation an enforcement priority in its 2017 Strategic Enforcement Plan.  Moreover, employers need to be mindful that several state and local laws prohibit both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination and take steps to ensure their employment law policies and training comply with existing federal, state and local law.

Continue reading

Trump Proposes a $2.5 Billion Cut to the Dept. of Labor’s Budget and to Eliminate Funding for Labor Initiatives and the Chemical Safety Board

By Kara M. Maciel and Eric J. Conn

The Trump Administration submitted a blueprint budget for 2018 to Congress proposing $2.5 Billion in cuts to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) operating budget.  The President’s proposed budget expressly calls for reduced funding for grant programs, job Budget 1training programs for seniors and disadvantaged youth, and support for international labor efforts.  It also proposes to entirely defund and eliminate the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (“CSB”) – an independent, federal, non-enforcement agency that investigates chemical accidents at fixed facilities.  The budget plan also purports to shift more funding responsibility to the states with labor related programs.  Finally, although less explicit, the budget blueprint appears to deliver on promises from Trump’s campaign trail that rulemaking and regulatory enforcement efforts under the myriad laws and regulations enforced by the sub-agencies, such as the Wage and Hour Division and OSHA would be slashed.

These proposed budget cuts at DOL and other agencies are all part of a plan to offset the White House’s intent to increase defense and security spending by $54 billion.  Overall, Trump requested $1.065 Trillion in total discretionary spending, with $603 billion going to Defense.

The proposal would shrink DOL’s budget to $9.6 Billion – down 21% from the $12.2 Billion budget for 2017. Trump’s planned reductions announced on March 16, 2017 – while not really surprising in the context of his view toward federal spending on non-defense agencies – would have a seismic impact Continue reading

Join Us for a Webinar on the DOL’s Major Regulatory Initiatives in 2016 and 2017

On Wednesday March 22, 2017, Conn Maciel Carey Labor & Employment attorneys Jordan B. Schwartz and Daniel Deacon will be presenting a free webinar reviewing the major regulatory initiatives promulgated by the US Department of Labor (“DOL”) in 2016 and discussing what employers can expect from the DOL and other federal agencies in 2017.

As employers are undoubtedly aware, the DOL was extremely active in 2016 as President Obama’s second term came to a close.  From its attempt to more than double the threshold salary level to be classified as an exempt employee to requiring that employers provide paid sick leave for contractors, the DOL hit the employer community hard.  However, President Trump and Alexander Acosta, the nominee to be the new Secretary of Labor, will likely attempt to reign in the DOL’s significant activity as well as the activity of other Federal agencies.

This webinar will review the major regulations promulgated in 2016 and provide guidance and recommendations to ensure compliance in 2017.

The webinar begins at 1:00 pm ET.  You can register for the webinar here.  You can also register for Conn Maciel Carey’s entire 2017 Labor & Employment Webinar Series below:

Register me for the entire
2017 Labor & Employment Webinar series