California is known as one of the most progressive, pro-employee states in the country. But if the last several months are any indication, Illinois is quickly catching up.

Here’s a quick overview of what’s happening in the prairie state:

Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act   

What’s New? As of January 1, 2019, employers must reimburse employees for all “necessary” expenses. So what’s a necessary expense? Anything required of the employee in the discharge of his/her employment duties that “inure to the primary benefit of the employer.” Computers, cell phones, uniforms, etc. may all constitute “necessary” expenses that the employer is required to reimburse.

Takeaway: Employers should review their policies, job descriptions, and third party contracts to determine which positions/roles may result in necessary expenditures.

Continue Reading Is Illinois The New California For Employers?

[With special thanks to our summer associate Lennox Mark for his contribution to this post.]

Since 2000, June has been LGBTQ Pride Month in the United States. “Pride” as it has come to be known started as a way to commemorate the Stonewall riots that occurred at the end of June in 1969. It has since morphed into a month-long celebration of inclusiveness and remembrance of the struggles faced by members of this community. Many other countries and cities around the world honor and celebrate the LGBTQ community at different times throughout the year.

As we look back at the events of the last month and in honor of continuing the conversation around US Pride, we review some of the recent strides made for equality and other potentially impactful legal developments for the LGBTQ community, including those that US and OUS employers should know about.

Continue Reading Advancing LGBTQ Rights At Home And Abroad

This article was originally published on Law360.com.

Three recent decisions arising under the National Labor Relations Act highlight that ambiguity and inattentiveness are the twin banes of labor and employment attorneys. In all three cases, the dispute arose because two personnel policies or approaches overlapped, opening the way for conflicting claims. As these cases demonstrate, letting the National Labor Relations Board decide, “who is on first” can have significant consequences and can trigger an onslaught of litigation. Unfortunately, instead of resolving the uncertainty, these three NLRB decisions merely pushed the dispute into another forum where additional litigation may occur to resolve the underlying issues.

Click here to read on.

In June, a federal district court in New York ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts a recent state law prohibiting mandatory arbitration agreements in sexual harassment cases. Latif v. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC  marks the first time that a federal court has ruled on this issue.

Continue Reading NY Ban On Mandatory Arbitration Of Sexual Harassment Claims Overturned

Beginning in 2020, Nevada and New York City will restrict an employer’s ability to screen job applicants for marijuana use. As marijuana legalization spreads across the country, other jurisdictions will likely follow suit. Employers, especially those that recruit in Nevada and NYC, should review their drug testing and hiring practices now to stay compliant.

What it means for you

Marijuana use by employees is for the first time protected in some jurisdictions, increasing the risk of discrimination claims by applicants and employees. Employers that hire in Nevada and NYC should consider whether their current recruitment and hiring practices may unlawfully discriminate by screening out applicants who have used marijuana. Here is an overview of the new laws:

Continue Reading High Times Ahead: New Laws Restrict Marijuana Drug Testing In Recruiting + Hiring

Baker McKenzie’s antitrust specialists see new areas of focus for antitrust agencies around the globe: Procurement, HR and R&D.

Is your company prepared?

With increased scrutiny from antitrust regulators, companies and staff that agree not to poach employees from others, or fix wages, are increasingly in danger of serious financial and even criminal penalties. This is true even if companies do not sell competing products, but compete for employees. Simply exchanging information on compensation with other employers can be enough to break antitrust laws. And, this is also the case outside the US – the new trends in antitrust enforcement are global.

Click here to see our Human Resources and Antitrust Heat Map showing new areas of risk around the globe.

To develop your compliance strategy to guard against HR antitrust risk, contact your Baker McKenzie lawyer.

Baker McKenzie’s Mike Leggieri and Robin Samuel were recently interviewed on how best to avoid class arbitration in light of the US Supreme Court April 2019 Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela decision.

In Lamps Plus, the Supreme Court held that when an arbitration agreement is ambiguous on the availability of class arbitration, courts may not compel arbitration on a classwide basis. The Supreme Court emphasized that arbitration is a matter of consent under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and ruled that state law contract principles (for example, that ambiguity in a contract should be construed against the drafter) cannot substitute for the parties’ express consent.

In light of Lamps Plus, Mike and Robin recommend that employers updating their arbitration agreements:

  1. Weigh the potential disadvantages of arbitration against the principle advantages noted by the Supreme Court.
  2. Clarify that the FAA governs the arbitration agreement.
  3. Specify:
    • the issues subject to arbitration;
    • the applicable rules;
    • the designated arbitrators; and
    • the parties’ intent to arbitrate on an individual basis only.
  4. Be as clear as possible regarding the parties’ intent.

Click here to read the full article (page 11) and contact your Baker McKenzie employment attorney to develop and implement your company’s arbitration program.

* Originally published in the June/July 2019 issue of Thomson Reuter’s GC Agenda

While the benefits of arbitration clauses in employment documents with US employees are highly publicized and well known, arbitration clauses with employees outside of the US (OUS) are much less prevalent due to enforceability issues and administrative hurdles.

Unlike in the US, where arbitration can often be quicker, limit opportunities for appeal, and affords greater confidentiality, this is not always the case OUS.

Continue Reading Arbitration of Employment Claims Globally

We were delighted to hear from Vernā Myers, Vice President of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix, at our Global Employer Forum in New York last month.

Vernā is a Harvard-trained lawyer, author, TED speaker and diversity advocate. She revolutionizes corporate culture. Her keynote address at the Forum challenged leaders to critically examine their own unconscious biases and to get uncomfortable.

Vernā explains,

Bias are the stories we make up about people before we know who they actually are.

Unconscious biases, or implicit biases, are thoughts and feelings outside of our conscious awareness that our brain uses as information-processing shortcuts. The problem is when these shortcuts are both inaccurate and influence our behavior.

Through critical self-examination and reflection on our own biases, we can begin to identify where unconscious biases in the workplace may perpetuate inequities and a lack of inclusion. When we can recognize and have an awareness of bias, we can start to see how certain preferences for what’s in front of us may actually be (unintentionally) embedded in a company’s systems and processes thereby creating structural barriers to equal opportunity.

Listen to Vernā’s moving words HERE.

For more insights emerging from our Global Employer Forum, click HERE.

The California State Assembly passes a Bill that codifies the infamous “ABC” test for independent contractor determination — will the Senate follow suit, and will the Governor sign the new legislation into law?

The New Bill

On May 29, 2019, by a 55-11 vote, the state Assembly passed AB 5, a bill that would codify the California’s Supreme Court’s decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court.   Continue Reading California Assembly Passes Bill Codifying “ABC” Test For Independent Contractor Determination