Employment Law Legislative Update First Quarter 2016

April 21, 2016

In her first quarter legislative update of 2016 for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), HunterMaclean partner Sarah Lamar highlights recent changes in employment law:

Legislation: Georgia Pastor Protection Act (HB 757)
Introduced: 1/13/16
Status: Vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal 3/28/16
Purpose: To provide that religious officials would not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion and that certain individuals would not be required to serve persons if doing so would violate a sincerely held religious belief.
Comment: In vetoing the highly controversial bill, Governor Deal stated that he did not feel the Georgia Legislature needed to pass a law which granted freedoms already existing under the Constitution. Almost immediately after the North Carolina governor signed a similar bill, Deutsche Bank, a global financial institution, announced it would pull plans to employ 250 workers in Carey, North Carolina as a result of the new law.
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Legislation: Georgia Garnishment Bill (SB 255)
Introduced: 12/30/15
Status: Signed by Governor Nathan Deal 4/12/16
Purpose: To clarify garnishment procedures and ensure that debtors can access information regarding available exemptions and claim appropriate exemptions in an expedited manner.
Comment: This legislation follows a ruling by a federal judge in Atlanta that the current state garnishment statute unconstitutionally denies due process to defendants in garnishment proceedings. After this ruling, members of the Georgia Legislature formed a task force to correct the problems inherent in the current law. SB 255 was the result of the task force’s efforts.
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Legislation: Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act (HR 4773)
Introduced: 3/17/16
Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
Purpose: This Republican bill with 87 co-sponsors would halt the implementation of the DOL’s overtime exemption rules until the DOL engaged in a study regarding the anticipated impact of such rules on the economy and would also prohibit the DOL from automatically changing the white collar exemption salary thresholds without formal rulemaking and a public notice and comment period.
Comment: SHRM and many other organizations have joined together to support this legislation, especially given the burdensome effect that the DOL overtime exemption rules will have on small employers, non-profits and other sectors. The proposed rules are scheduled to come out by July 1, 2016.
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Legislation: Changes to Form I-9
Proposed Changes Published: 3/28/16
Status: Public Comment Period Expires 4/27/16
Purpose: To further modify the Form I-9 so that it is easier to complete with fewer technical errors. While the proposed changes are pending, employers should continue to use the existing Form I-9, even though it states on the face of the form that it expires on 3/31/16.
Comment: For many years, employers have made mistakes in completing the I-9 – and it is easy to do. Unfortunately, just one mistake can constitute a paperwork violation which results in a civil money penalty. Any modification to make the form more user-friendly and error-proof is a positive development.
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