2015: A Season of Change - Significant Laws Likely to Affect Employers (and Others)
march 4, 2015
With the last echoes of "Auld Lang Syne" fading away as we march further into 2015, we ought to pause and study just a few new laws and changes to existing laws that will almost certainly impact the way employers manage their business. The Illinois General Assembly was busy throughout 2014 passing a total of 511 bills through both houses. Some significant new laws will restrict employers' use of criminal records in pre-interview applicant screening, while other laws will increase protections of pregnant applicants and employees. Here is a look at a few of them:
First, a topic of conversation that was impossible to avoid in 2014 was related to the ever-changing landscape of how marijuana is characterized, regulated and, thus, how it may impact employers. Whether the law related to the use of medical (or recreational) marijuana, concerns on how said use may involve employees caused employers concerns to mount. One of the main issues for all involved is the tension between the federal law that bans the use of marijuana for all reasons as an illegal, controlled substance, and the new state laws authorize its use to varying degrees.
Both the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma are pursuing a lawsuit against the state of Colorado regarding the legislation of recreational marijuana. In December 2014, the plaintiffs filed their Petition for Leave to File their Complaint with the United States Supreme Court on the basis of "original jurisdiction." Under the U.S. Constitution, only the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear and decide a case between two or more states of the union. To date, the Court has not accepted the case, however, it appears as though it will be hard for it to avoid taking the case.
In another important development for employers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) again adopted new Rules for union representation cases. In doing so, it significantly reduced the period between the filing of a petition and a union election. The NLRB justified these changes by citing the need to make its processes and procedures more modern. While that may be the case, one real impact of the change is that employers have much less time and opportunity to address the union campaign prior to employee voting. The final Rules are effective April 14, 2015.