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Archive for the ‘Employment Law Blog – NC’ Category

Is North Carolina Poised to Create New Jobs and Revenue by Modifying Blue Laws?

Posted on: June 2nd, 2017

By: Paul H. Derrick

Many businesses in North Carolina’s hospitality industry are one step closer to achieving a long-sought goal. The state senate has approved a measure, the so-called “brunch bill,” that would allow cities and counties to decide whether local restaurants and bars can serve alcohol beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays. By statute, North Carolina allows on-premises alcohol sales statewide from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. every day except Sunday, when such sales cannot begin until noon.

For well over a century, North Carolinians have been subject to a variety of statutes, regulations, and ordinances known collectively as “blue laws.” As a federal judge once explained, the blue laws were intended to “provide a day of rest and to prevent physical and moral debasement from uninterrupted labor.” Over time, most blue laws went the way of the dinosaurs, including one Asheville ordinance that prohibited ordering ice cream on Sunday without first ordering (and, presumably, eating) a lunch that was something other than cake. Today, most remaining blue laws govern alcohol sales.

Restaurants and hotels have long sought to persuade the legislature that relaxation of blue laws will not only increase taxable revenues, but also lead to additional tourism that paves the way for more jobs and, hopefully, have a spillover effect in the retail sector, where sports fans seeking pre-game beer and wine would likely purchase other items, as well. Although 47 other states already allow some form of alcohol sales before noon, those arguments largely have fallen on deaf ears. Until now.

The brunch bill also includes provisions designed to ease the rules for North Carolina’s burgeoning craft distillery industry. Already home to dozens of craft beer breweries, North Carolina has 45 distilleries currently operating, with almost two dozen more in the works.

The brunch bill now moves to the House for further consideration.

We will continue to keep you apprised of developments in this area as they occur. In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Paul Derrick at [email protected].

North Carolina Repeals Controversial Bathroom Law

Posted on: April 5th, 2017

By: Paul H. Derrick

The North Carolina General Assembly has voted to scrap the infamous HB 2 bathroom law. The repeal became effective immediately after being signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper.  In just four sentences, the new law got rid of HB 2 and, in a compromise that has angered advocates on both sides of the issue, mandated that local governments and state educational systems cannot regulate access to multi-user restrooms, locker rooms, or changing facilities until December 1, 2020.

Most workplaces will not be directly affected by the repeal, as the employment law provisions of HB 2 were substantially repealed in July 2016. This final repeal did, however, effectively reinstate the three-year statute of limitations for filing wrongful discharge claims under state law.  That filing period previously had been shortened to just one year.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Paul Derrick at [email protected].

Timing of Failure to Accommodate Religious Belief Allows Bias Claim to Go Forward

Posted on: March 27th, 2017

By: Paul H. Derrick

It will be for a jury to decide whether a North Carolina caterer acted unlawfully when it told a newly-hired delivery driver to remove his religious head covering, then terminated him the very next day. In denying the company’s motion for summary judgment, Judge Louise Flanagan, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said that the timing of the events could create at least a reasonable inference that the worker’s need for a religious accommodation was a motivating factor in the termination decision. (EEOC v. Triangle Catering, LLC)

Although the driver claimed that his Rastafarian religion requires him to always wear a head covering, a hat that he refers to as a “crown,” he admittedly did not wear it to his interview for the job. On his second day at work, however, he wore the hat and was told by one of the company’s owners to remove it. After explaining the crown’s religious purpose, he was sent home for the day. He was terminated the next day, and his termination letter listed the “hat situation” as the reason for his discharge.

The court did note that it would be up to a jury to decide whether the driver’s purported religious beliefs about the hat were sincere – a requirement if he hopes to ultimately prevail at trial – particularly since he admitted that he did not wear the hat to his job interview. The judge also ruled that a jury would also have to evaluate the veracity of the employer’s assertion that accommodating the driver’s religious practice would violate applicable health codes and regulations and, therefore, constitute an undue hardship.

Whether this case actually goes to trial or is settled along the way, it serves as a reminder that adverse employment action coming on the heels of protected activity can often give rise to a meritorious retaliation claim. Employers should diligently create a trail of accurate documentation that paints a clear picture of what took place. They should also consult counsel before taking adverse action against an employee who has, or appears to have, engaged in arguably protected conduct.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Paul Derrick at [email protected].

Breaking News – Puzder Withdraws from Consideration to be Secretary of Labor

Posted on: February 15th, 2017

By: Paul H. Derrick

Andy Puzder, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, has withdrawn his name from consideration after being plagued by criticism since his nomination. Union leaders and prominent Democrats have been among his staunchest critics. Puzder’s decision to step down comes a day before his Senate confirmation hearing was set to begin. Just hours before the announcement of his withdrawal, media outlets had begun reporting that Republican officials advised the White House that Puzder lacked the votes needed for confirmation because at least four GOP senators intended to break ranks and vote against him. It remains to be seen who President Trump will nominate in his place.

For any questions, please contact Paul Derrick at [email protected].

Be on the Lookout for Minimum Wage Increases in 2017

Posted on: December 20th, 2016

 By: Brad Adler and Agne Krutules

As we enter into 2017, employers should remember that, while the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25, many state and local jurisdictions have passed legislation that will increase their respective minimum wage in 2017.

Below is a list of the states and some of the major local governments that will be increasing their minimum wage in 2017. Of course, if you have employees working within any of these jurisdictions, it is important that you pay them in accordance with the state or local law.

Jurisdiction Current Min. Wage Planned Min. Wage Effective Date
Alaska $9.75 $9.80 January 1, 2017
Arizona $8.05 $10.00 January 1, 2017
City of Flagstaff, AZ $8.05 $12.00 January 1, 2017
Arkansas $8.00 $8.50 January 1, 2017
California* $10.00 $10.50 January 1, 2017*
Berkeley, CA $12.53 $13.75 October 1, 2017
Cupertino, CA $10.00 $12.00 January 1, 2017
Emeryville, CA $13.00 $14.00 July 1, 2017
Los Altos, CA $10.00 $10.50 January 1, 2017
Los Angeles, CA $10.50 $12.00 July 1, 2017
Los Angeles County, CA $10.50 $12.00 July 1, 2017
Mountain View, CA $11.00 $13.00 January 1, 2017
Oakland, CA $12.55 $12.86 January 1, 2017
Palo Alto, CA $11.00 $12.00 January 1, 2017
Pasadena, CA** $10.00 $10.50 July 1, 2017
Richmond, CA $11.52 $12.30 January 1, 2017
San Diego, CA $10.50 $11.50 January 1, 2017
San Francisco, CA $13.00 $14.00 July 1, 2017
San Jose, CA $10.30 $10.50 January 1, 2017
San Mateo, CA $10.00 $12.00 January 1, 2017
Santa Clara, CA $11.00 $11.10 January 1, 2017
Santa Monica, CA $10.50 $12.00 July 1, 2017
Sunnyvale, CA $11.00 $13.00 January 1, 2017
Colorado $8.31 $9.30 January 1, 2017
Connecticut $9.60 $10.10 January 1, 2017
District of Columbia $11.50 $12.50 July 1, 2017
 Florida $8.05 $8.10 January 1, 2017
Hawaii $8.50 $9.25 January 1, 2017
Chicago, IL $10.50 $11.00 July 1, 2017
Cook County, IL $8.25 $10.00 July 1, 2017
Johnson County, IA $9.15 $10.10 January 1, 2017
Polk County, IA $7.25 $8.75 April 1, 2017
Wapello County, IA $7.25 $8.20 January 1, 2017
Maine $7.50 $9.00 January 1, 2017
Portland, ME $10.10 $10.68 January 1, 2017
Maryland $8.75 $9.25 July 1, 2017
Montgomery County, MD $10.75 $11.50 July 1, 2017
Prince George County, MD $10.75 $11.50 October 1, 2017
Massachusetts $10.00 $11.00 January 1, 2017
Michigan $8.50 $8.90 January 1, 2017
Missouri $7.65 $7.70 January 1, 2017
Kansas City, MO*** $7.65 $9.82 January 1, 2017
Montana $8.05 $8.15 January 1, 2017
New Jersey $8.38 $8.44 January 1, 2017
Albuquerque, NM**** $8.75 $8.80 January 1, 2017
Bernalillo County, NM $8.65 $8.70 January 1, 2017
Las Cruces, NM $8.40 $9.20 January 1, 2017
New York***** $9.00 $9.70 December 31, 2016
New York City, NY****** $9.00 $11.00 December 31, 2016
Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, NY $9.00 $10.00 December 31, 2016
Ohio $8.10 $8.15 January 1, 2017
Oregon******* $9.75 $10.25 July 1, 2017
South Dakota $8.55 $8.65 January 1, 2017
Vermont $9.60 $10.00 January 1, 2017
Washington******** $9.47 $11.00 January 1, 2017


* Although the statewide minimum wage will increase from $10.00 to $10.50 as of January 1, 2017, employers with 25 or fewer employees will receive a one-year reprieve and will not face the statewide increase in 2017.

** In Pasadena, employers with 25 or fewer employees will face a minimum wage increase to $10.50 as of July 1, 2017, while larger employers will face an increase from $10.50 to $12.00 as of the same date.

*** The Kansas City minimum wage was slated to increase to $9.82 on January 1, 2017, but is stalled due to pending court challenges. The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to soon rule on the issue. The same holds true for the St. Louis minimum wage, which was scheduled to increase to $10.00 as of January 1, 2017.

**** However, if the employer provides healthcare and/or childcare benefits to the employee during any pay period and pays an amount for these benefits equal to or in excess of an annualized cost of $2,500, the minimum wage will increase from $7.75 to $7.80.

***** For fast-food employers outside of New York City, the minimum wage will increase from $9.75 to $10.75 on December 31, 2016.

****** For businesses with less than 11 employees, the minimum wage will increase from $9.00 to $10.50. For fast-food establishments in New York City, the minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on December 31, 2016.

******* For employers within the state’s Urban Growth Boundary, the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2017 will be from $9.75 to $11.25. For employers in frontier counties, the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2017 will be from $9.50 to $10.00 per hour.

******** Seattle employers with 500 or more employees will see an increase in their minimum wage from $13.00 to $15.00 on January 1, 2017. The SeaTac minimum wage applicable for hospitality and transportation workers will increase from $15.24 to $15.35 as of January 1, 2017. In Tacoma, the minimum wage will increase from $10.35 to $11.15.

The minimum wage for federal contractors covered by those regulations and Executive Order 13658 (primarily those with Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act contracts) will increase from $10.15 to $10.20 effective January 1, 2017.