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Looking Back: A Few Of 2019's Top Employment Law Stories

2019 brought forward a lot of important questions in employment law, for both employees and employers. Here are some stories that stuck out:

Over 50? Chances are you will face age discrimination. Despite the passage of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in 1967, discrimination against workers 40 and over is still widespread, according to the Urban Institute and ProPublica. Of those over 50, 56% will experience a layoff or termination.

$15 an hour slowly becomes a reality for many workers, including in Maryland. Many municipalities and states passed laws raising the minimum wage, with most aiming to raise it to $15 an hour over time.

The #MeToo movement continued shaking things up. Auditing giant PwC found that allegations of sexual or other kinds of misconduct were this year's most common reason for CEO departures.

Workplace violence continued to shock and dismay us. OSHA recommends that every company establish a zero-tolerance policy for violence. Additionally, employers should consider minimizing the known risks, such as people working alone or carrying large amounts of cash, as well as developing a security and response plan.

The public cheered for equal pay for the U.S. Women's soccer team. After a fourth World Cup win for the women's national team, fans chanted "Equal Pay!" in the stadium. Meanwhile, the team filed a lawsuit alleging pay discrimination after it was discovered the much less successful men's team was getting paid substantially more.

The Labor Department redefined some overtime rules. It clarified how to calculate an employee's regular rate of pay for the purposes of overtime, and raised the salary threshold for exempt employees, potentially making more people eligible for overtime pay.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on whether LGBT discrimination is "because of sex." Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination "because of sex," and LGBT advocates argued that this essentially prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender individuals.

Nationwide, employer theft of wages could amount to $15 billion a year. A 2017 wage theft study by the Economic Policy Institute found that wage theft is a great deal more widespread than many believed. Failing to pay at least the minimum wage and overtime premium for all hours worked occurs through many different employer actions. Worker misclassification is one common method of theft.

The gig economy faced major challenges. California passed a law requiring companies to hire any independent contractors who perform the core work of their businesses, which could eliminate many gig economy jobs. Meanwhile, New Jersey determined that the ride-hailing giant Uber has misclassified its drivers as independent contractors and fined the company $649 million.

Federal workers to receive paid parental leave. In a move that could have repercussions throughout the economy, President Trump signed a provision offering up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a new child.

Stay with us during 2020 for more employment law stories and information.

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