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In the States

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The political fate of most state legislators, like many of their Washington counterparts, will be decided on Election Day 2012. But that hasn’t dampened their spirit in proposing legislation that would significantly affect the day-to-day duties of HR professionals.

By the end of this month, 46 state legislatures will be hard at work, and a handful of HR issues are popping up across the county:

  • Right to Work – The rights of public employees to organize were contentious issues in Ohio and Wisconsin last year; expect Indiana, New Hampshire and possibly other states to be the battlegrounds in 2012. 
  • Background Checks – The list of states placing restrictions on employer’s use of credit reports in the employment process continues to grow. In 2011, five states joined Hawaii and Washington in enacting laws to limit access, except for specific positions.  A few legislatures have also begun weighing the impact criminal background checks have had on the transition of former offenders back into the community.
  • Mandatory E-Verify – In the wake of a Supreme Court opinion, several more  states are considering immigration reform bills that require employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify system for work eligibility purposes. SHRM has maintained that immigration law is a federal issue and that E-Verify, in its current configuration, remains prone to identity theft.
  • Paid Sick Leave – Connecticut and a handful of localities have enacted laws requiring most employers to provide a set amount of paid sick leave to employees annually. Now other states—particularly those controlled by Democrats—are likely to consider legislation in 2012.
  • Gender Identity – Some states are expected to consider legislation prohibiting workplace discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation, as well as gender identity.  Ohio, Florida and Kentucky are just a few.
  • Workplace Bullying – An issue that appears to be gaining traction in some states is a focus on workplace bullying. Proposed legislation would hold employers liable if they fail to address instances of an abusive workplace. Other proposed legislation would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who are victims of domestic abuse.

The SHRM Legislative Tracking System has identified pending workplace legislation on the state and federal level. It is accessible to all members by clicking HERE.  

Under SHRM bylaws, the Society is restricted from advocating for or against state legislation. Instead, it works closely with state councils that are interested in having the HR voice heard on such issues. If you are interested in becoming engaged, we encourage you to contact the leadership of your State Council.

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