What are industry observers saying about 2022 employment law predictions?
Each new year brings a new set of trends for HR and compliance teams. A few years ago, it was minimum wage at the forefront, with paid leave close behind. But the pandemic has opened the door to other employment law issues to monitor — the “great resignation,” remote work policies, vaccine mandates and more.
With that, here are some of the 2022 employment law predictions.
Federal Vaccine Mandate
As the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to make a decision on the federal vaccine mandate, large employers across the country are awaiting the results.
The Fearless Forecaster, attorney Steven Adler, predicts the mandate will be upheld, which would require employers with 100 or more workers to ensure employees are vaccinated or be subject to weekly testing.
Other items he’s monitoring in 2022 include:
- Employee relations
- Pirating employees and restrictive covenants
- Age discrimination
- Employee misclassification
Minimum Wage Increase for Federal Contractors
Effective Jan. 1, 2022, the minimum wage for employees working on federal contracts went up to $11.25, with tipped employees making $7.90 per hour.
Attorneys at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale note that the rule will be applied broadly — protecting employees working “on” covered contracts and those “in connection with” covered contracts. This includes employees who provide support on covered contracts, like a security guard monitoring a covered project.
Meanwhile, President Biden’s executive order calls for more updates in the future:
- Beginning Jan. 30, 2022, minimum wage for federal contractors increases to $15
- Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, the minimum wage will be indexed annually and published at least 90 days prior to the effective date of the updated wage
- Increase federal contractor tipped employees minimum wage to $10.50 beginning Jan. 30, 2022
- Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, federal contractor tipped employee minimum wage must be 85 percent of the indexed wage
- Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, and every subsequent year, federal contractor tipped employee minimum wage must be 100 percent of the indexed wage under this order
Other Supreme Court Cases
In addition to the federal vaccine mandate, the high court has other items on the docket that will impact employers, says Brett Holubeck, a Fisher Phillips attorney.
In Hughes v. Northwestern University, the Supreme Court will weigh in on the obligations of those entities that operate defined-contribution retirement plans, such as 401(k)s. Essentially, the case boils down to the fees for such plans and whether there is a remedy for mismanagement.
The court will also hear Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana. The question here is whether the Federal Arbitration Act preempts California court rulings that said arbitration agreements waiving the right to bring representative actions under the California Private Attorneys General Act are unenforceable under state law.
Other items Holubeck weighs in on include:
- Midterm election results
- COVID-19 issues
- Workplace safety
Chuck Mataya and Myles Chaney, attorneys with Bradley, Arant, Boult, Cummings LLP, are eyeing discrimination legislation in 2022.
They predict a continuation of laws combating discrimination at the state and local levels:
- California made it unlawful to require employees to sign settlement or non-disparagement agreements relating to discrimination
- Illinois made it unlawful to discriminate against an employee for associating with a disabled person
- Montana employers may no longer discriminate against an employee for the lawful use of marijuana while they are off work
- In parts of North Carolina, the definition of protected class has been expanded to include sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and natural hairstyle
They also are watching the results of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act at the federal level.
While no one can predict how the future will unfold, the items listed above are certainly food for thought for large employers.
The pandemic has brought a new emphasis on employment law topics, from paid leave and minimum wage to laws covering remote workers and more. In 2022, employers will once again have their hands full keeping up with the constantly changing world of employment law compliance.