United States: Three Things To Do: End-Of-The-Year Labor And Employment Checklist For 2015

Last Updated: December 4 2015
Article by Richard R. Meneghello

What better way to prepare for the new year than to review the biggest developments in the world of labor and employment law that took place over the past 12 months? Presenting Fisher & Phillips' annual end-of-the-year review, complete with a handy checklist to make sure you don't miss out on any important steps you need to take before 2016 rolls around.

No matter your particular field, focus, or position, here are three things you need to do. Note: each item contains a link to our firm website for a detailed discussion of the particular topic, or you can visit laborlawyers.com/KnowledgeCenter.

Do You Play A Role In Hiring?

  • If your company's application still includes a question asking about criminal history, make sure you don't operate in a state that has implemented a "ban the box" law prohibiting that practice. New York, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Vermont are among states that passed such legislation in 2015; 19 states and over 100 cities and counties now have some form of the law. (Read more)
  • In the wake of June's Supreme Court Abercrombie & Fitch decision, review your interviewing and hiring protocols to make sure you don't violate new religious accommodation obligations. No longer will you be able to stick your head in the sand and claim you didn't know that the applicant needed an accommodation; the burden is now yours. (Read more and more)
  • Assess your starting (and incumbent) salaries to make sure you don't open yourself up to equal pay act claims. A number of states strengthened equal pay laws in 2015, including California and New York, and a number of others ratcheted up protections against gender pay discrimination (including Connecticut, Oregon and Delaware). (Read more)

Do You Maintain The Company Handbook?

  • The new year might be the perfect time to review your handbook top-to-bottom to make sure your policies don't run afoul of the many rules the NLRB has put into effect of late. Even if you are not unionized, be aware of the standards that you must follow to avoid government scrutiny. (Read more)
  • Do your policies prohibit discrimination and harassment because of LGBTQ status? If not, be aware that 2015 saw the EEOC begin to enforce Title VII to include sexual orientation, even if your state law does not. The courts will no doubt address this issue in 2016. (Read more)
  • Nothing's a more appropriate sign of the times than realizing that your handbook should address whether your employees can have visible tattoos in the workplace. If you haven't updated your dress and appearance policies to reflect the modern state of affairs, you might want to consider it for 2016. (Read more)

Do You Manage Your Company's Labor Relations?

  • 2015 was not a good year for employers on the labor relations front. The low point might have been the August BFI decision that created a broad new standard for determining when two companies are considered "joint employers" for collective bargaining purposes. This decision is expected to have even more negative consequences in the new year. (Read more)
  • August also saw the NLRB issue a controversial decision reversing 35+ years of precedent, holding that witness statements obtained by employers during pre-arbitration investigations must be provided to the union before the hearing. As a result, you should adjust your practices accordingly. (Read more)
  • We'd been expecting it for quite some time, but April 2015 finally saw the implementation of the "quickie election" rules for union organizing votes. If there's a silver lining, recent data appears to show that union success rates have not increased greatly with the change, rising by only 1.6% since April. (Read more)

Are You General Counsel?

  • If you are in charge of big-picture compliance efforts for your business, be aware that the EEOC focused much of its 2015 efforts and resources on "systemic" claims of discrimination. Think globally to steer your company away from the EEOC's spotlight in 2016. (Read more)
  • If your company does any business in Europe, be aware that the last few months saw the dismantling of the EU-US data transfer arrangement known as "Safe Harbor." You will need to review your company's business practices immediately to ensure compliance. (Read more and more
  • Finally, if your company's business involves the global supply chain, be aware that there was a renewed effort in 2015 to ensure that anti-trafficking rules are enforced. You should address this issue before enforcement efforts expand in 2016. (Read more)

Do You Administer Benefits?

  • The SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges decision from June requires all states to recognize same-sex marriage; you'll want to review your entire array of benefits to ensure you are in compliance with the associated obligations brought about by this change. (Read more)
  • An increasing number of states, counties, and cities are mandating some form of paid sick leave. At least five jurisdictions joined these ranks in 2015, and many more are expected in 2016. Make sure your benefits administrators are aware of your local obligations (Read more and more and more and more)
  • Businesses see a great advantage to instituting wellness programs for their workforce, but the EEOC has decided that some employers were going too far. In April, the agency published proposed rules governing the programs, with which you will want to familiarize yourself before the new year. (Read more)

Are You In Charge Of Wage And Hour Compliance?

  • If your business requires employees to pass through a security screening at the end of their shifts, 2015 was a pretty good year for you. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that employers do not have to pay workers for security-check wait time, and a California federal court just expanded on that decision. Make sure to read through the summaries of these cases to make sure your company follows the standards. (Read more and more)
  • Meanwhile, if your business retains independent contractors, 2015 was not necessarily a good year for you. Government agencies and courts continued their full-scale assault on alleged misclassification arrangements, costing business by the millions. You'll want to once again revisit your relationships to ensure compliance. (Read more)
  • A few years ago, "BYOD" (Bring Your Own Device) policies were all the rage, as both employers and workers saw the benefit of allowing employee-owned electronic devices to be put to use for work-related reasons. But the past year has seen an onslaught of wage and hour lawsuits stemming from these arrangements. Proceed with caution. (Read more)

Do You Oversee Safety?

  • The biggest shocker of Fall 2015 was the November Surprise, when the federal budget deal revealed that OSHA now has the power to increase penalties by up to 82%. We'll have final figures in 2016, but take the time now to beef up your compliance efforts to avoid this new stinger. (Read more)
  • On the same day in June when Caitlyn Jenner made her appearance on a Vanity Fair cover, OSHA released guidance for employers on transgender employee bathroom usage. If you haven't yet done so, read up now so you know how to handle any situations that arise in 2016. (Read more)
  • A million drones are expected to be sold this coming holiday season, which means that the chances a drone will enter your workplace in 2016 are pretty high. Consider implementing a policy now to address the safety aspects of this 21st-century phenomenon. (Read more)

Are You In Charge Of Immigration Issues?

  • If so, you're probably aware that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audits and immigration worksite compliance sanctions are at an all-time high, while employers in all sectors struggle to find talent. This potentially combustible combination led to many headaches in 2015; you'll want to tighten the reins to avoid being in the government crosshairs in 2016. (Read more)
  • Meanwhile, U.S. employers are scrambling to keep up with the global competition for technology in STEM fields. But 77% of all H-1B petitions filed for FY 2015 were denied due to the antiquated quota-based immigration system, and the denial rate is expected to rise even higher for FY 2016. (Read more)
  • There are an estimated 12 million undocumented workers in the country, and 2015 brought no real solutions to the growing problem. A significant part of our workforce and economy is in limbo, and the lack of guidance for employers that are trying to do the right thing for both their domestic and foreign employee base has created anxiety. There may not be any noteworthy developments until after the 2016 presidential elections. (Read more)

Are You A Federal Contractor?

  • Although signed into law back in 2014, the federal contractor minimum wage increases took effect this past year. By January 2, 2016, the minimum rate will rise again, from $10.10 per hour to $10.15, so adjust your labor budgets (and pay practices) accordingly. (Read more)
  • Labor Day 2015 will be remembered as the day the President signed an Executive Order which will require all contractors to provide paid sick leave for their workforces. The intended implementation date is January 1, 2017, so use the new year to get ready. (Read more)
  • New rules going into effect in early January 2016 will require covered contractors to include certain information on pay stubs and prohibit discrimination against employees sharing wage information in the name of pay transparency. If you aren't familiar with these new rules, you have only a few weeks to get up to speed. (Read more)

Do You Want A Sneak Peek At 2016?

  • Employers have been on pins and needles for much of 2015 waiting for the U.S. Department of Labor's new regulations on overtime pay. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait a bit longer. It now looks like we'll get final publication in July 2016, but the agency is unpredictable and this schedule could be adjusted once again. (Read more and more)
  • A SCOTUS case, expected to be decided by June 2016, could be a crucial stepping stone for those who want to further reduce the impact of unions on the American workplace. The Friedrichs case could eliminate "agency shop" fees that public unions take from non-members, and the hope is that a favorable decision will reduce union resources and political clout. (Read more)
  • Worker advocates will have a rallying cry in 2016 – they will "Fight for 15" in an effort to see minimum wage increased to $15 per hour. Expect to see much movement at the local level, and increased activism by low-wage workers seeking greater pay. (Read more)

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Richard R. Meneghello
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions