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Top Ten Issues In Employment Law For HR Professionals In Virginia in 2008: #6

Published by on January 22, 2009

We will be posting over the next week the top ten developments in employment law for HR professionals in Virginia in 2008.  The list is in no particular order.  Topic number 6 is: Potential Legislation in 2009.  More after the break. Under the Obama administration, employers can expect many significant changes in the scope of […]

We will be posting over the next week the top ten developments in employment law for HR professionals in Virginia in 2008.  The list is in no particular order.  Topic number 6 is:

Potential Legislation in 2009.  More after the break.

Under the Obama administration, employers can expect many significant changes in the scope of protection afforded by employment law statutes.  Some examples of the changes on the horizon are: 

  • Employment Non-Discrimination Act. “ENDA” would make sexual orientation a protected class. The bill provides employment protections similar to those of Title VII , but specifically directed to gay, lesbian, bisexual employees.
  •  Fair Pay Restoration Act (The Lilly Ledbetter Act). This bill is intended to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, that ruled under Title VII an employee had a strict 180 days to file a discrimination charge with the EEOC and if the employee failed to meet that deadline her claims were barred. Under the Act, each and every paycheck alleged to be discriminatory will be treated as new discrimination, thus re-starting the 180-day clock. Employers will also be required to educate employees about their rights and filing procedures for claims.
  • Employee Free Choice Act. Allows unions to be recognized if enough employees sign union authorization cards – eliminating union elections. Another fundamental change that would result from the EFCA passing would be the ability of collective bargaining agreements to be decided by arbitrators instead of negotiated between unions and the employer. If any version of this Act passes, it will be easier for unions to organize.
  • Civil Rights Act of 2008. Would remove damage caps presently imposed on federal discrimination lawsuits – which is now $300,000 against an employer of over 500 employees.
  • Healthy Families Act. The HFA would require employers with 15 or more employees to provide seven paid sick days to employees. The HFA would also mandate the sick time could be used for the employee’s illness or to care for a child/parent/spouse/individual related by blood/domestic partner. Today 48 percent of private-sector workers and 76 percent of low-wage workers have no paid sick days, so this will be an easy sell for Congress.
  • FOREWARN Act. This Act would increase the warning period for a plant closing or mass layoff from 60 to 90 days, and increase the coverage of the WARN Act to cover employers with 50 or more employees.

As we noted here recently, forward progress is already being made on these initiatives.

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