Personnel Concepts provides timely state regulatory activity and essential employment law information to its customers. So, to offer a complete scope of employer responsibilities, we track labor law developments from all 50 states. Below is a list of findings from this week’s state legislation research sweep. Most importantly, as necessary information becomes available, Personnel Concepts will continue to provide updates to affected small businesses.
Alabama, Florida, & Georgia
On April 7th, 2021, the Eleventh Court of Appeals published an opinion on the Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. decision. As a result, the Eleventh Court of Appeals has reversed its stance establishing websites as a “place of public accommodations.” This state regulatory activity affects Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. The latest ruling eases requirements for business owners and retailers, only requiring specific accommodations in their physical locations. Above all, the Eleventh Court’s decision rejects the standards accepted in the First, Second, Third, Seventh, and Ninth Courts. Such a split in circuit court decisions could lead to intervention by the Supreme Court. In response to the 2-1 decision, the dissenting judge stated the ruling allows providing inaccessible websites to visually impaired customers.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced new state regulatory activity by releasing plans to open California on June 15th, 2021. However, for the reopening to occur, the state must meet the following criteria:
- The vaccine supply must be sufficient for Californians 16 years and older who want inoculations; and
- Hospitalization rates must be stable and low.
Despite the change in status for reopening businesses in California, employers must follow workplace safety regulations. These regulations include the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), passed in November 2020. The ETS mandates specific requirements for workplaces, including:
- Implementation of written COVID-19 prevention programs and measures;
- Reporting and recordkeeping requirements;
- Worker exclusion when employees have COVID-19 or experienced exposure;
- Management of COVID-19 infections and outbreaks; and
- Investigation of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.
Newsom’s latest announcement follows the state’s recent expansion of its COVID-19 paid sick leave law.
The state of Virginia has also seen new state regulatory activity this past week. Effective July 1st, 2021, new laws for employees working in the state will allow greater rights and protections. Also, the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana will take effect.
The following laws will take effect on July 1:
- Expansion of Disability Discrimination Protections and Adds Domestic Worker Protections. The law expands the Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA) scope and prohibits discrimination based on disability. Furthermore, the state also enacted protections and benefits for domestic workers.
- Virginia Paid Sick Leave for Home Health Workers. The state joins the District of Columbia and many other states with paid leave for designated workers. Specifically, this law covers home health workers. Included in the law, home health workers paid sick leave is compensated at the same rate as other covered employees.
- Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: The General Assembly approved legislation to make marijuana legal on July 1. As a result, Virginia becomes the 16th state to legalize the drug. However, retail sales of recreational marijuana won’t begin until January 1st, 2024. The law makes possession of up to an ounce of marijuana legal for people 21 and older beginning July 1. Consequently, this update can potentially change employers’ recruiting and testing methods during the onboarding and disciplinary processes.