2020 Employment Law: Why We’re Watching These Four States

By Kris Janisch
Published Nov. 12, 2019

States to Watch for Employment Law in 2020

While GovDocs keeps an eye on employment laws all 50 states (and Canada), there are four in particular where we anticipate plenty of activity.

As we head toward the holiday season and the end of the year, HR and compliance teams know what looms at the start of 2020 — new employment laws going into effect.

But what about the rest of 2020?

While GovDocs keeps an eye on employment laws all 50 states (and Canada), there are four in particular where we anticipate plenty of activity. There are several reasons, including:

  • Laws being challenged in the courts
  • A state enacting a measure that prompts ordinances at the local level
  • Marijuana legalization

New laws. New postings. New wages and paid leave requirements…

Below, we’ll examine each of the states and why 2020 could bring challenges for employers.

  • Colorado
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota


Colorado could make our list for several reasons. Having passed or enacted many employment laws in 2019, some wonder whether the state will eventually surpass California as the nation’s leader in that department.

But we’re going to focus on the local level. This summer, the state repealed a ban on cities setting their own minimum wage. That opens the door for cities to create their own rates, and Denver is already considering a minimum wage increase.

We expect more cities in Colorado to follow suit. The cost of living in the state varies widely by region, and the minimum wage bill was aimed at giving cities more flexibility to address the employment needs of residents.

The state minimum wage in Colorado will hit $12 an hour in 2020, well above the federal rate of $7.25. But as the new year progresses, we expect cities to begin considering (and likely setting) their own rates.


Texas isn’t as known for its employment law as some other states. But paid sick leave initiatives in three cities that faced challenges in the courts has employers tracking the latest developments.

In 2018, Austin passed a paid sick leave law, which a court of appeals ruled in violation of the state’s minimum wage act. Not long after, both Dallas and San Antonio paid sick leave ordinances of their own. They, too, saw business groups file lawsuits to stop the measures.

While the laws in the three cities weren’t substantially different, Dallas and San Antonio have been able to move forward with their ordinances. Austin, however, has not.

As we move into 2020, the fate of Austin’s paid sick leave law — now in the hands of the Texas Supreme Court — will bear watching.


Starting Jan. 1, 2020, it will be legal for adults 21 and older to possess small amounts of marijuana in Illinois.

The Cannabis Act also includes extensive protections for employees. The law says employers may not discriminate against workers based on use.

However, the bill includes language about “impairment” in the workplace, and that can be a gray area for employers and the law. How this situation unfolds is why we will be watching Illinois in 2020.

Related: Chicago’s New Predictive Scheduling Law


Minnesota, the home of GovDocs, is also home to one of the nation’s strongest wage theft laws.

This summer, criminal provisions of Minnesota’s new law went into effect. It’s now a felony to intentionally commit wage theft if the total is more than $1,000. If the wage theft is over $35,000, the maximum penalty is $100,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison. There are also extensive recordkeeping and notice requirements associated with the bill.

How law enforcement agencies and the courts enforce and interpret the new wage theft law puts Minnesota on our list of states to watch for employment law next year.


It’s no longer simply California and New York where employers must stay on top of changes to employment laws.

More states, counties and cities are enacting their own regulations and requirements for employers. It’s incumbent upon companies to maintain compliance with posting regulations, hiring rules and other aspects of employment law.

This Labor Law News Blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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