California, Illinois, New York and Oregon were especially active this year. Undoubtedly influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, three states and the District of Columbia passed family leave-related legislation, with California adding protected leave for the care of parents-in-law for both private and public sector employees.
On the anti-discrimination landscape, Oregon amended its anti-discrimination statute to include natural hairstyles as a protected characteristic. Certain localities in North Carolina also adopted a similar approach. In keeping with evolving theories of how to effectively distinguish independent contractors from employees, some states have introduced legislation further penalizing employers found to have misclassified their employees as independent contractors. Additionally, three states have further refined their approaches to enforcing non-compete agreements. Of note in this area is Oregon’s update that non-compete agreements longer than 12 months will be unenforceable in Oregon effective January 1, 2022.
Closing out the year, federal OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that will require employers with 100 employees or more to ensure that all employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or in the alternative, submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.
Click here for a chart with summaries of several employment-related laws taking effect in the final months of 2021 and early 2022. Please note that this chart includes generally applicable laws taking effect in the noted states and some large municipalities. This is not an exhaustive list and may not necessarily include information about laws that apply to particular industries. In addition, this list does not include laws regarding minimum wage and overtime requirements.