The employment law industry is poised to make some of the most sweeping changes in decades. Most of these will have resulted from the wave of #MeToo lawsuits against major tech companies, some of which were supposed to be barred by company-mandated nondisclosure agreements. Many judges have since ruled that those NDAs don’t bind employees who wish to speak out against (or make allegations of) sexual harassment within their companies.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new law in August of 2019 to expand anti-discrimination rights and protections for workers throughout the state. Beginning on January 1, 2020, nondisclosure agreements and similar contracts will no longer be legally considered binding agreements. Employees will be free to make complaints in the public spotlight, if they so wish.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law in October of 2019 to expand the rights of his own state’s workers. Previously, workers who fell victim to harassment only had a single year to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations has been increased to three years in order to give people more time to come forward with evidence.
Another piece of California legislation, SB 778, gives employers an extra year to provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training. Courses take two hours to complete for supervisory tasks. All other employees require only one hour to complete their training. The training must be renewed at least once every two years.
Meanwhile, Connecticut employers have until October 1, 2020 to provide their own employees with sexual harassment training.
The newly legislated Oregon Workplace Protection Act that prohibits NDAs made on the basis of “preventing the employee from disclosing or discussing [illegal] conduct” according to state or federal laws.
A number of states are also barring employers from implementing arbitration agreements. These contractual obligations prohibit employees from suing an employer, forcing them to instead challenge employers using binding arbitration.
Nevada’s SB 312 mandates at least 40 hours of paid leave for state employees. Several other states and Washington D.C. have implemented similar laws.
Many states are also beginning to implement restrictions of artificial intelligence applications during the interview process. For example, Illinois recently enacted a law that forces employers to disclose to job applicants whether or not videotaped interviews will be analyzed using artificial intelligence. The disclosures must provide specific information as to how and why the AI will be used.
A number of other laws are set to govern digital security, recreational marijuana, pre-employment drug testing, salary inquiries, etc.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the question of whether or not Title VII protections should be extended on the basis of sexual orientation sometime next year.
Additional details on the review can be found here.