Unusual Wage and Labor Laws in a State Near You

May 29, 2019 | 1,073 views

Unusual Wage and Labor Laws in a State Near You
Unusual Wage and Labor Laws in a State Near You

Human resource management is a specialty for a reason. Trying to stay abreast of new age and labor laws requires a translator, attorney, and payroll specialist. Sometimes, it’s nearly impossible to steer clear of strange legal employment cases while staying focused on your business’s core function. If you think it’s tough where you operate, maybe you should be grateful that you don’t have to deal with some of these unusual state laws.

In North Dakota, non-compete agreements are not enforceable with (prior) employees. This is somewhat true in many labor-friendly states, even if the state allows for non-compete agreements, because companies normally cannot restrict a person from earning a living. Be sure your agreements are clear, but don’t expect to win a lawsuit later.

In New York City, tips count toward the minimum wage, so if a tipped employee receives enough tips, an employer gets to pay less. Isn’t that penalizing the better employees? Regardless, you must have a way to keep track of tip earnings to prove why you are paying less.

In California, an employer can be sued for not providing seats to those who traditionally stand. Think bank tellers and retail cashiers. If it does not inhibit work, a seat must be provided.

In Vermont, a new law prohibits hanging business linens, restaurant towels, or other laundry outside to dry. Not because it’s unsightly, but because a clothesline is considered an “energy device” based on renewable resources.

In Indiana, it is nearly impossible to reduce an employee’s pay without his or her consent. If the employee agrees under the law, they can still change their mind at any time. And if there is any violation, employees recover triple the amount of usual. This might a good state for independent contractors instead of employees.

In most states, if you offer paid vacation, it is due and payable when an employee leaves or is terminated. And in some of those states, the vacation accrues daily. Use scheduling and accrual software for record-keeping.

In New York state, factory and retail employees must get their lunch break between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. What if they start their shift at 1:30?

In Montana, unless you have cause for termination, there is no “at-will” employment law in place except during a probationary period. Sounds like everyone should be kept in probationary status.

In California, if an employee is contacted about any work-related function during non-work days or lunch times, they must be paid for the full day and the full lunch. Even checking email from home voluntarily counts against the employer’s wage requirements. Be sure your handbooks are clear about when staff can work.

In Ohio, adequate supplies of toilet paper must be provided with each toilet. Um, ok, but what happened to make this a law? At least it’s not hard to comply.

In West Virginia, a company paid half a million dollars to an employee for failing to accommodate his request not to use a biometric hand-scanning clock-in device. His reason was biblically based. The lesson: listen to religious belief requests and try to accommodate them.

Whew. Isn’t running a business well hard enough without some of these unfriendly wage and labor limitations?

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.   

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