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In the States

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As the federal government has been mired in a protracted debate on how to get its fiscal house in order, certain states and one locality have recently enacted new laws that will impact the way HR does business in those areas.

  • Georgia: Immigration Reform—Governor Nathan Deal (R) has expressed his intent to sign into law HB 87, a bill mirrored after the controversial 2010 Arizona law that is currently subject to a court challenge. Titled the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011," the bill would phase in over an 18-month period beginning January 1, 2012, a requirement for private employers of ten or more workers to begin using the federal government’s E-Verify system to verify work eligibility.  The bill also empowers law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration laws while performing their usual duties. 
  • Maryland: Credit Checks—On April 12, Governor Martin O’Malley (D) signed into law HB 87; a bill prohibiting employers from using an applicant’s or employee’s credit report or credit history in making a hiring or promotion decision, or in deciding whether to discipline or discharge an employee. The new law, titled the “Job Applicant Fairness Act,” does authorize certain employers (required by federal law, financial institutions and/or credit unions, and who may provide investment advice) to request or use an applicant's or employee's credit report or credit history under specified circumstances.
  • Washington: Veterans’ Preference in Hiring—Yesterday, April 20th, Governor Chris Gregoire (D) signed into law HB 1432; a bill strongly supported by the SHRM Washington State Council that would allow private employers in the state to establish voluntary preferences in employment for veterans, widows or widowers of veterans, and spouses of certain disabled veterans. Under the legislation, these preferences would not be considered violations of any state or local equal opportunity law, including the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
  • Philadelphia: Criminal Background Checks—On April 18, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) signed into law an ordinance prohibiting employers from asking about a person’s criminal background on job applications. The ordinance, which applies to both city agencies and private employers operating within the city limits of Philadelphia, would still allow employers to provide background checks after an initial interview with a prospective employer. Other major cities, such as Boston and Chicago, have recently adopted similar ordinances nicknamed “Ban the Box” efforts.

In order to keep track of what HR legislation might be percolating in your state, click HERE to access SHRM’s Pending Legislation Report, which is searchable by subject area or by state.

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