Two quick updates to items I’ve covered before.
Yesterday, the state Senate approved of an increase to minimum wage by 75 cents, over two years. The bill would raise the minimum wage to $8.70 on January 1, 2014 and $9.00 an hour the following year. The Governor has pledged to sign the bill but it will now go on to the House first for a vote.
The CHRO revision bill has seen a few changes since I covered it last — mostly for the better. The latest version of the bill under consideration eliminates the possibility of emotional distress damages.
However, the new version includes a default mechanism and a requirement that employers respond to the so-called “Schedule A” questions by the CHRO. Hopefully, the legislature will reconsider.
The Schedule As are a series of interrogatories asked by the CHRO for every investigation. Some questions are mundane — the name for the company’s agent for service — while others ask about similarly situated employees or more detailed questions. Employers have, at times, had the discretion in responding to these inquiries by raising an objection to the scope of the question.
The new legislation could change that as it mandates that employers respond to these requests.
(As an aside, the legislation allows the agency to grant a 15-day extension of time to respond to a complaint but NOT to the Schedule As. That too should be remedied.)
This would be a mistake; the scope of the Schedule A questions are broad and mandating a response will only lead to more substantive and substantial challenges by the employer. The Schedule A has never been treated as the same as a subpoena yet by elevating it in legislation, it will suddenly have even more power.
Moreover, what prevents the CHRO from changing the Schedule A to make it even more detailed or overbroad?
The legislature should reconsider this small portion before passage of S.B. 1164.