With the midterm elections fast approaching, it’s time to think about heading to the polls. Several high-profile ballot initiatives will have a direct impact on the workplace should they become law. Familiarizing yourself with workplace ballot initiatives prior to November 6 will help prepare you to institute changes should the employment-related legislation pass.
Employment-Related Ballot Initiatives
This fall’s election will see three key legislative measures that pertain to the workplace. They could impact your practice depending on the state in which you reside. Legislation to keep an eye on includes:
Minimum Wage Increases.
Voters in several states will decide whether to raise the minimum wage. Arkansas officials are proposing increasing the minimum wage from $8.50 to $11 an hour over three years, and in Missouri, if the ballot measure is approved, minimum wage would increase from $7.85 to $12 an hour in increments each year until 2023. In Missouri, penalties for noncompliance would also increase. Employers not just in these states, but across the U.S., should verify that they are meeting state and local minimum wage requirements, as the nationwide trend of higher minimum wages shows little signs of slowing.
In recent years, several states have passed laws making medical or recreational marijuana use legal, and that trend continues in 2018 with voters in five states – Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah – deciding whether to legalize marijuana use. With federal and state laws conflicting on the matter, it’s a tricky area for employers, especially for those who have workplace drug testing and zero-tolerance policies. It’s important to carefully consult your state’s laws in order to make sure you don’t unfairly penalize employees who might legally be covered for a medical disability.
In Massachusetts, voters will decide whether to repeal that state’s Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law, which just went into effect on October 1. The law bans discrimination against transgendered persons and allows them to use public facilities based on their gender identity rather than assigned sex. Because Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sex, the outcome of this vote will have a significant impact on employers in the state, especially those that own and operate a public place of accommodation, such as a bathroom.
Additionally, while there are no federal laws requiring employers to allow their workers time off to vote, many states offer voting leave to employees in special circumstances. It’s wise to review your local laws and determine whether you need to provide your employees with time off to vote.