State legislators are taking the lead on reshaping the legal landscape surrounding workers' pay and scheduling, while federal lawmakers have failed so far this year to pass major wage and hour bills.
From laws increasing minimum wage rates to bills barring employers from asking about previous pay, businesses and workers across the country are seeing significant changes to their legal rights and obligations.
Here, Law360 looks at some of the most important legislative developments in the wage and hour space so far this year.
Dozens of States Raise Minimum Wage
Workers in more than two dozen states — including California, New York, Florida, Illinois and Virginia — will see their local wage floors rise this year. In May, Rhode Island became the latest state to enact a minimum wage increase when Gov. Dan McKee signed a bill raising the minimum rate from $11.50 to $15 per hour over the next four years. …
Democrats in Congress failed earlier this year to include a $15 minimum wage provision in a federal COVID-19 relief package, and their flagship proposal, known as the Raise the Wage Act, hasn't yet moved beyond the very early stages of the legislative process.
"Passage looks unlikely given the current configuration of Congress, but it's a topic that is top of mind for many in Congress," said Paul DeCamp, a partner at employer-side firm Epstein Becker Green. "This is one that has a lot of people watching."
Connecticut Bans Salary History Inquiries …
Salary history bans have become increasingly common in recent years, with lawmakers floating them this year in at least a dozen states. Many of those bills stalled or were voted down, the same fate suffered in June by a federal salary history ban proposal that was included in the failed Paycheck Fairness Act. …
"They create a lot of challenges for employers," said Epstein Becker's DeCamp. "For decades it's been normal practice that when hiring an employee, one of the relevant data points has been, what does the employee earn now?" …
Maine Considers California-Style PAGA Law
Maine is on the verge of becoming the first state to pass legislation similar to California's Private Attorneys General Act, which enables workers to bring private enforcement for wage and hour violations in the name of the state.
In June, both chambers of Maine's Legislature approved the proposal, which faces additional procedural votes before it goes to the governor to sign. Other states, including Massachusetts and Washington, are considering similar legislation, and DeCamp predicts lawmakers there could push those bills through before the end of the year.
"I do think we'll see other PAGA-type laws passed in other states in the next several months," he said.
Although PAGA has been "the bane of employers' existence" in California, DeCamp said, a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit opens the door for employers to challenge workers' ability to bring claims of wage and hour violations that didn't affect them personally.
"The Ninth Circuit's recent decision reigning that in and suggesting a much more limited and rational approach to standing paves the way for the California state courts to really cabin PAGA into what it was originally intended to be," DeCamp said.
While it's hard to predict the possible impact of Maine implementing a PAGA-type law, employers are wary of the prospect, DeCamp said.
"It presents real challenges in terms of seeing how the Maine courts — state and federal — react to that version of PAGA," he said.