There’s nothing constant but change, right? Especially when it comes to employment laws and regulations, and 2022 is no different. Two states (Alabama and Oregon) have COVID-19-related legislation going into effect, and New York and California added family leave regulations that were likely influenced by the pandemic.  

The federal government clarified how tipped employees must be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and several amendments around tip pooling. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring employers of 100 or more employees to implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination and/or regular testing policy by February 9, 2022. That being said, employers must have a written policy in place by January 10. This was initially supposed to go into effect in November, but a federal appeals court temporarily suspended the ETS. On December 17, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay, but the Supreme Court held hearings on January 7 and ruling is pending. 

Other than that, the new state legislation focuses on everything from anti-discrimination and minimum wage increases to drug testing and background checks.  

We’ve highlighted some of the changes below, but you can find a comprehensive list of employment-related laws here and more about the minimum wage changes here. 

Anti-Discrimination 

The state of Oregon and two municipalities in North Carolina expanded their anti-discrimination statute to include natural hairstyles as part of their protected class.  

Minimum Wage 

Twenty-one states raised their minimum wage effective January 1, while four additional states (Florida, Oregon, Nevada, and Connecticut) are set to follow suit in the coming months. In total, 56 cities, counties, and states will raise their minimum wage by the end of 2022. Based on the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the leisure and hospitality industry will benefit the most from the hourly wage increases. 

Drug Testing 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, implemented a bill that prohibits employers from requiring prospective employees to undergo drug testing for the presence of marijuana. There are some exclusions. After legalizing marijuana for recreational use in 2021, Montana’s new bill states that employers cannot take adverse action against an employee for legal use of marijuana outside of working hours. 

Background Checks 

Texas passed the DeSoto Fair Chance Ordinance that prohibits an employer from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial job application. California also passed a bill about criminal background checks that requires the reporting of felonies and only misdemeanors are exempt from the requirement that certain employers must notify parents or guardians that an employee with specified convictions will have supervision over a child. 

Human Trafficking 

Rhode Island now requires hotels and Illinois requires restaurants and truck stops to train their employees in recognizing and reporting human trafficking. In Rhode Island, hotels must make a “good-faith effort” to post human trafficking awareness signage in both English and any other language that at least 10% of employees speak. 

Salary Reporting 

As of the publishing of this article, seven states have enacted Equal Pay Laws with varying stipulations around requiring employers to disclose wage information: Nevada, Rhode Island, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington. New York had a bill passed by the New York City Council in December 2021 that would require employers with four or more employees to disclose the minimum and maximum salary offered for a position. The bill will go into effect on January 14, 2022 if it is not vetoed by the mayor before then. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have pending legislation. 

We know how difficult it can be to keep up with all of the changes that happen with employment law, so we hope this is a helpful starting point for a compliant 2022! We are not employment law experts, so while we’ve attempted to highlight the key changes, always be sure to do your own research and review any questions with your legal team. 

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