Reporting Time Pay Varies By State

During inclement weather, many offices and businesses will close early. While last week’s post examined payment when the business is closed or remains open all day, different rules apply when the employer opts to close the workplace early.

 

Many states have reporting pay laws that guarantee an employee payment for a minimum number of hours when the employee reports for a scheduled shift. In those states, even if the employee works only 5 minutes, or reports to work but does no work at all, the employee is entitled to a minimum payment.

 

There is no requirement for reporting pay under federal law. The federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act requires only that employees be paid for time worked.

 

Laws vary from state to state, but many times reporting pay is not required if the employer made a good-faith effort to inform the employee in advance that the business would be closed or that the employee’s schedule has been changed.  Many states also exempt employers from reporting time pay when a business is closed due to an act of God, as when a tornado or flood destroys the building.

 

According to SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, seven states plus the District of Columbia have reporting time pay laws that affect adults: California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Oregon has a reporting time pay that applies to minors only.

 

A brief summary of reporting time pay laws by state: Continue reading

Rhode Island Governor Repeals E-Verify

State contractors in Rhode Island are no longer required to use E-Verify under an executive order signed by new governor Lincoln Chafee on his first day in office.

 

Governor Chaffee, an Independent, said, “This repeal of all parts of the Executive Order on E-Verify will effectively turn the clock back to March 26, 2008, the day before then-Governor Carcieri signed it into law.” Governor Chafee added, “This re-set will allow us to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with our immigrant communities, law enforcement agencies and all interested parties. This is an opportunity to reach a consensus on how best to enforce the law.”

 

The new executive order means that companies holding contracts with the state of Rhode Island are no longer required to use E-Verify when hiring new employees. It is still lawful for the companies to use E-Verify, but they are not required to do so.

 

Branches of the state government are not required to use E-Verify for newly hired employees under the new executive order, and there is every indication that they will stop doing so.

 

In March 2008, Republican Governor Donald Carcieri issued an executive order that required all state agencies in the executive branch, and state contractors, to use E-Verify to ensure that they were not hiring undocumented workers.

 

This action is in contrast to a trend among states to more strongly enforce employment laws during a recession with high unemployment. In Florida, for example, the newly elected governor Continue reading

Rhode Island Drug Testing Update

The Rhode Island Superior Court has ruled that employers cannot conduct random drug tests in the workplace. State statutes permit drug tests, but only when there is a reasonable suspicion that the employee is impaired on the job. The Rhode Island Drug Test statute limits how such tests can be conducted, according to the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union.

 

The test case involved police matron and court interpreter Romana Ramos, who had worked for the City of Pawtucket for 17 years. Pawtucket is a picturesque city of about 73,000 people, founded in 1671.

The city employee benefits coordinator advised Ramos on April 6, 2010 that she must immediately submit to a random urine test to screen for illegal drugs. Ramos objected and was advised by the police chief that if she refused the random drug test, she would be suspended without pay for 30 days. Apparently this course of action was approved by the city attorney.

 

Under duress, Ramos agreed to both a random drug test and a breathalyzer test. Both tests were negative for drugs and alcohol. Ramos sued the employer and the employer agreed to a settlement. The City of Pawtucket issued an apology to Officer Ramos, paid her legal fees and agreed Continue reading

School Visitation Law Update

A number of states require the employer to give employees unpaid time off  to attend school events such as parent-teacher conferences and classroom events. This includes California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Vermont — all have school visitation laws.

 

The Colorado Academic Activities Leave Law applies to employers with 50 or more workers. It permits the parent or guardian of a K-12 student to take off 6 hours per month in increments of up to 3 hours each, up to a total of 18 hours per academic year. Paid leave may be substituted for the unpaid school visitation leave, but the law does not apply to supervisory employees.

 

Illinois provides for parents and guardians to take up to 8 hours of unpaid leave

 

California has two separate school visitation laws that prevent the employer from taking any negative action against employees who take unpaid school visitation leave. One law applies to Continue reading

Rhode Island Discrimination Update

Employees in Rhode Island now have 3 years to file a suit under the state Civil Rights Act, instead of one. Earlier this year, the General Assembly overrode a July 2009 veto from Governor Donald Carcieri, to revise the statute.

 

Rhode Island prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, age, disability or country of origin. The very broad Rhode Island Civil Rights Act simply entitles individuals to “enjoy equal benefits of the law.” This is usually interpreted to mean protection from employment discrimination and retaliation, among other rights. Until recently, this law had no statute of limitations on lawsuits.

 

A second law, the Fair Employment Practices Act or FEPA, specifically includes a one-year statute of limitations. In 2007, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled in Horn v. Southern Union that the two laws must be consistent. Therefore, the court imposed a one-year statute of limitations on the Civil Rights Act.

 

The state legislature decided that the one-year statute of limitations was too narrow, and specifically passed a law giving an employee Continue reading

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