Friday, April 30, 2010

Are You Ready for May 11, 2010? New Laws Affecting Utah Employers.

The 2010 legislative sessions saw a lot of activity affecting employers and employees. Approximately fifty newly enacted laws will have some affect on employers and employees.  With only two or three exceptions, all of these laws become effective May 11, 2010.  (For a complete list of all the bills passed and their effective dates click here.)

A number of bills passed that added new elements to employee drug testing and background checking policies:
 A number of laws relate to immigration issues:
There were amendment to the statutes governing unemployment:
There were amendments to the statutes governing workers' compensation:
Several pieces of legislation related to health insurance, underprivileged individuals, and individuals with disabilities:
A number of bills passed that modified and changed the licensing requirements for different professionals.
 There were several significant bills that affected public employees benefits.
There were also statutes that applied generally to public entities:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Requiring Specific Employee Dress is Not Equivalent to Requiring a Uniform

On April 29, 2010, the Utah Court of Appeals in Juricic v. Autozone, Inc., clarified that an employer may require a certain dress standard, including specifying the colors of shirts and pants to be worn at work, without such a requirement being considered a uniform. This is significant because it forecloses an employer from being required to reimburse employees for the purchase of such clothing under the Labor Commission's regulations. Specifically, the regulation states as follows: "Where the wearing of uniforms is a condition of employment, the employer shall provide the uniforms free of charge." Utah R. Admin. R610-3-21(A). The Court's ruling affirmed an earlier decision that Autozone, Inc., did not need to reimburse its former employee for ten years worth of clothing he purchased to comply with the dress code.

Friday, April 23, 2010

EMPLOYERS BEWARE! New Case Expands Employee Protection and Claims Substantially

On April 23, 2010, the Utah Supreme Court substantially expanded the rights of employees to bring claims for emotional distress against former employers. In Cabanese v. Thomas, the Court ruled that the date the statute of limitations is triggered is "at the time the last injury occurred or the tortious conduct ceases." Accordingly, in repeated conduct cases, an employee can bring a claim for all conduct arising before the last event.

Moreover, the Court expanded the scope of recoverable damages by ruling that emotional distress and mental anguish damages are properly given in breach of employment contract cases when the contract (or employee handbook language) contemplates that an employee might suffer that type of injury when certain conduct occurs---such as when the handbook provides that the employer will not tolerate harassment.

Finally, the Court narrowly construed broad disclaimer language found at the beginning of the handbook that purported to disclaim contractual liability.

All employers should take a close look at their policies and amend them to limit their liability in light of this case.

Return of the Long Absent Employment Lawyer

To all my readers:

Please excuse my absence for the past few months. Unfortunately, I have been heavily involved in litigation, etc., and have not had time to pay attention to my blog. I will now return my attention to it.

Look for more frequent updates