New laws regarding discrimination, captive audience presentations regarding unions, and employees failing drug tests.
A new law in Washington prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Under the new law, an employer may not refuse to hire someone because of sexual orientation or make any hiring inquiry about it. A company also may not discharge someone or discriminate in compensation based on sexual orientation. The new designation allows employees who feel that they have been discriminated against to sue their employers for back pay, reinstatement, and emotional distress.
In West Virginia , a new law provides employers with immunity in disclosing information about former employees. Immunity is waived, however, in cases where the former employer gave information that was knowingly false, disclosed with reckless disregard for the truth, deliberately misleading, or malicious.
A New Jersey law will protect employees from intimidation over religious and political matters. The law makes it illegal for employers to require that workers attend meetings or participate in communication about political or religious issues. The law is intended to combat the practice of holding mandatory meetings to discuss religion or express support for a political candidate or point of view. The law also protects employees from retaliation if they raise concerns about an activity that might violate the law.
Employers may continue to hold captive-audience meetings to express their views on unions. Also, religious and political groups are exempted under the law so long as the meetings or communication pertains to the regular work of the organization. Under the law, violators are liable for civil fines of up to $1,000 for a first offense and up to $5,000 for subsequent offenses. Employees can get restraining orders against violating companies as well as reinstatement, lost wages, and punitive damages.
A new law in South Carolina requires employers who terminate employees for failing drug tests to prove that they followed certain procedures before these employees can be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Employees may not receive benefits if they fail or refuse to provide a specimen or provide a specimen that has been tampered with.
If a drug test is positive, employers must prove that the sample was collected and labeled by an authorized individual, such as a licensed healthcare provider. The test must have been performed by a certified laboratory, and the initial positive test must have been confirmed using a nationally accepted method.