President Obama was re-elected to a second term last night (something forecasted by stats guru Nate Silver). What does it mean for employers?

Four More Years

I won’t go quite as far as fellow blogger Jon Hyman, who said this morning that “it just doesn’t matter” who won last night.  I think it matters in part.

But the impact for employers will probably be far less than was suggested during the campaign season.  Much will depend on the level of compromise that comes out of Washington.

Here are four areas where we should keep an eye on:

  • “Obamacare” — With Obama’s re-election, the idea that universal healthcare will somehow be repealed is done.  With implementation of key provisions due in 2014, employers who have been on the fence about the changes that are required to their benefit system should now start moving forward.  Verdict: It’s happening.
  • NLRB — The National Labor Relations Board has been flexing its muscle under Obama’s first term.  This political agency will likely try to continue to push forward changes to election rules and posters — even as the litigation regarding those items promises to slow things down.   This is one area that employers ought to pay close attention to. Verdict: NLRB remains an agency to watch.
  • ENDA — The Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would prohibit employers nationwide from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation, has been discussed a lot. But with same-sex laws passing in Maine and Maryland, the sentiment in the country appears to be shifting.  While this won’t have much impact in Connecticut (where state law already prohibits such discrimination), I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new push for this bill’s passage.  Verdict: Some compromise bill is likely on ENDA.
  • Paycheck Fairness Act — Stephanie Thomas of the Proactive Employer blog suggests this morning that the gender pay gap was an issue in the last term and will remain a priority in the next term.  (Check out her post for other potential issues.) I tend to agree with her, but with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, it’s hard to see how a compromise is going to be shaped here.  Verdict: My guess is that we won’t see passage of this bill anytime soon.

But as I said before, it’s still too early to figure out what the next four years will bring.  Even driving into work, I heard a dozen differing opinions about what the election “means”.  We tend to overstate the results from elections on the morning after, and I think the same applies here.

The fact is we’ve had gridlock on the Hill for the last two years; no employment laws have been passed. Will the gridlock in Washington continue? Perhaps.  But if it starts to break, then perhaps we will start to see some more compromise measures being passed.

 

Election Day is nearly upon us.  Much like I did two years ago, it’s time to recap the rules for employers regarding the election.  The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for everyone to vote for their favorite candidate…or at least the one that they dislike the least.  You can find out where you should vote at this easy to use link.

Any Time Off Required?

One question that arises from time to time: Do employers in Connecticut need to provide employees with time off to vote?

Many states offer this protection.   However, Connecticut isn’t one of them.

What does that mean? It means employers can insist that employees vote during non-working hours and have no legal obligation to provide time off to employees to vote. 

However, a reminder to employees about the polls being open and that they should vote either before or after their particular shift or work hours is certainly appropriate.

No “Threats” To Employees

Connecticut does have one peculiar law, however, that prevents employers from interfering with an employee’s vote. In fact, earlier this year, Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 9-365 was amended to make interference with the election a Class D felony:

Any person who (1) during the period that is sixty days or less prior to any election, municipal meeting, school district election or school district meeting, attempts to influence the vote of any operative in his or her employ by threats of withholding employment from him or her or by promises of employment, or (2) dismisses any operative from his or her employment on account of any vote he or she has given at any such election or meeting shall be guilty of a class D felony.

Despite a version of this law being on the books for nearly 60 years, don’t expect to find much, if any caselaw or commentary on it.  Yet, employers should still avoid the appearance of suggesting how to vote to employees. 

Remind Employees of “Bill of Rights”

Employers can feel free to remind employees of their “Bill of Rights” for voting.   Connecticut set up these rules and summarized them in a document here.  Among the more noteworthy rules that employees should know of is their right to vote when they are “in line” at the time the polls close. 

Other Tidbits

Reviewing the state’s laws on elections also reveals some other interesting quirks and trivial details.  For example, voting areas must have have a United States flag on the wall (Connecticut’s flag is optional), and a telephone. (And no United Nations Flags are allowed.)

Election Day is nearly upon us.   Next Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents will take to the polls from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. to vote for their favorite candidate…or at least the one that they dislike the least.  You can find out where you should vote at this easy to use link.

Any Time Off Required?

One question that arises from time to time: Do employers in Connecticut need to provide employees with time off to vote?

31states offer this type of protection.  However, Connecticut isn’t one of them.

What does that mean? It means employers can insist that employees vote during non-working hours and have no legal obligation to provide time off to employees to vote. 

However, a reminder to employees about the polls being open and that they should vote either before or after their particular shift or work hours is certainly appropriate.

No "Threats" To Employees

Connecticut does have one peculiar law, however, that prevents employers from interfering with an employee’s vote. Specifically Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-365 states:

Any person who, at or within sixty days prior to any election…attempts to influence the vote of any operative in his employ by threats of withholding employment from him or by promises of employment or who dismisses any operative from his employment on account of any vote he has given at any such election or meeting shall be [fined or imprisoned].

Despite this law being on the books for nearly 60 years, don’t expect to find much, if any caselaw or commentary on it.  Yet, employers should still avoid the appearance of suggesting how to vote to employees.  (Employers cannot provide misleading information about the vote either.)

Remind Employees of "Bill of Rights"

Employers can feel free to remind employees of their "Bill of Rights" for voting.   Connecticut set up these rules and summarized them in a document here.  Among the more noteworthy rules that employees should know of is their right to vote when they are "in line" at the time the polls close. 

Other Tidbits

Reviewing the state’s laws on elections also reveals some other interesting quirks and trivial details.  For example, voting areas must have have a United States flag on the wall (Connecticut’s flag is optional), and a telephone. (And no United Nations Flags are allowed.)

No matter your political affiliation, remember to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday and encourage your employees to do the same. 

 

Today is election day and in the pre-dawn hours, I’ll be at the polls supporting local politicians.  As this blog has attempted to remain apolitical, I’ll follow the New York Times columnist tradition and not endorse any politicians here. I’ve run a series of posts about election day and you can find them all here.

But if you are still trying to educate yourself on some employment law issues, Michael Fox has a terrific post up with his predictions about what will happen with various legislative proposals.  (It was building off an original post by John Phillips here.

Notably, both seem to believe that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act may be among the most likely of employment-law bills to pass first. It won’t have that much of an impact on a state like Connecticut that already covers sexual orientation as a protected category for employment law claims.  It seems a likely scenario if the Democrats do not get a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

Regardless of your politics, I want to close with a personal note about a conversation I had last night with some bright elementary school kids which perhaps can bring some perspective.  

They asked me, "Why do you like [Candidate A]?"  After thinking about it for a minute, I responded, "Because I think he has good ideas to help lots of people."

They then asked, "Does [Candidate B] have bad ideas?"  I replied, "No, he wants to help people too. I just think that [Candidate A’s] ideas are better. Anything else you want to know?"

Without much pause, they said, "Not really.  Can we just read "Duck for President" tonight and go with you tomorrow to vote?" 

Easiest question to answer all night (and for those who are curious, the book is below — from the same authors of Click, Clack, Moo which I posted about early this year.) 

It also seems appropriate to close out the very long political season with that note.

Regardless of your political affiliations, get out and vote today.  

 

 

Election Day is coming in less than two weeks (with today being the last day to register to vote via mail).  For some people, it’ll be the first time that they use new voting machines Voting Machine of the Past(The old lever system — pictured here — has been replaced by an optical scanner.)

While there are lots of sites discussing the effect of an election on employers, there isn’t much out there about what an employer’s obligations are.  Here’s what you need to know: 

No Threats

Employers cannot make threats to employees that link their employment to how they vote.  Employers who violate this statute are subject to imprisonment or a fine. Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 9-365 is the key law.

Despite this law being on the books for nearly 60 years, don’t expect to find much, if any caselaw or commenatory on it.  Yet, employer must still avoid even the appearance of suggesting how to vote to employees.  (Employers cannot provide misleading information about the vote either.) But notable, they can still encourage employees to exercise their right to vote. 

No Time Off Required For Voting

In Connecticut, the polls must be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Unlike some other states, Connecticut employers do not need to provide their employees with time off to vote.  However, a reminder to employees about the polls being open and that they should vote either before or after their particular shift or work hours is certainly appropriate.  Again, this is not influencing an employee’s vote. 

Remind Employees of "Bill of Rights"

Employers can remind employees of their "Bill of Rights" for voting.   Connecticut set up these rules and summarized them in a document here.  Among the more noteworthy rules that employees should know of is their right to vote when they are "in line" at the time the polls close. 

Other Tidbits

Reviewing the state’s laws on elections also reveals some other interesting quirk and trivial details .  For example, voting areas must have have a United States flag on the wall (Connecticut’s flag is optional), and a telephone. (And no United Nations Flags are allowed.)

Encouraging employees to vote is a great way for employers to both abide by the law and assist a valuable civic duty in getting performed. 

As some of you may know, I’m running for a seat on the Zoning Board of Appeals in my small hometown of Avon, Connecticut.   It has been a great experience.  But now that it’s crunch time — the election is tomorrow — the most important part is ensuring that people vote. Voting Machine of the Past(They will also be using new voting machines; the old lever system — pictured here — has been replaced by an optical scanner.)

I’ve been curious as to what an employer’s obligations are with respect to the election.  Here are a few points you need to know.

First, employers cannot make threats to employees about their employment tied to the way employees vote.   Rather than make this a civil penalty, the employer can be subject to imprisonment for such actions.  Specifically, Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 9-365 states:

Any person who, at or within sixty days prior to any election, municipal meeting, school district election or school district meeting, attempts to influence the vote of any operative in his employ by threats of withholding employment from him or by promises of employment or who dismisses any operative from his employment on account of any vote he has given at any such election or meeting shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned not less than six months nor more than twelve months or be both fined and imprisoned.

Despite this law being on the books for nearly 60 years, there is virtually no commentary or cases on it.  That does not give employers license to ignore it, however. Employers should avoid even the appearance of suggesting how to vote to employees although they can encourage employees to exercise their right to vote.  (Employers cannot provide misleading information about the vote either.)

Second, in Connecticut, the polls must be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.  There is no obligation for employers to provide employees time off to vote.  However, a reminder to employees via e-mail today about the polls being open and that they should vote either before or after their particular shift or work hours is certainly appropriate.  Again, this is not influencing an employee’s vote.  Even employees travel ling tomorrow can still fill out an absentee ballot today at their local town hall. 

Third, employers can also remind employees of their "Bill of Rights" for voting.  Connecticut has established those rights and summarized them in a document here.  Among the more noteworthy rules that employees should know is their right to vote when they are "in line" at the time the polls close.  Thus, people should not shy away from voting late in the day even if there is a line.

Interestingly, the election laws in the state contain various other trivial details that must be complied with including having a United States flag on the wall (Connecticut’s flag is optional), and a telephone

Elections for local office are, for the most part, not very exciting to the media. But because the decisions that are made locally may have the most impact on town residents (including property tax decisions and schools), they are perhaps more important than national elections.  Encouraging employees to vote is a great way for employers to both abide by the law and assist a valuable civic duty in getting performed.