WASHINGTON, D.C. - New employment laws in areas ranging from criminal background checks to weapons at work are likely to bubble up in states across the nation this year.
"While Washington still seems to be in a state of ... paralysis, there's a lot going on at the state and local level," Jonathan A. Segal, a partner in Duane Morris LLP's employment law group, said at the Society of Human Resource Management's 2013 Employment Law and Legislative Conference.
So far, only a handful of states and cities have adopted "ban the box" laws, which forbid employers from asking prospective employees about their criminal history on job applications. But Segal said to expect more to follow this year. "You're going to begin to see 'ban the box' ordinances popping up ... almost everywhere," he predicted. "It's the hot trend."
Many states also are considering legislation about weapons in the workplace. "We are seeing more bills protecting the rights of individuals to bring weapons to work rather than bills going the other way," Segal said.
Some employers are against laws that would prohibit employees from bringing weapons to work because during hunting season they would lose a quarter of their workforce; others, including one client who is a strong supporter the National Rifle Association, support them. "Why? He's a VP of HR and he terminates lots of people and he wants them to have a cooling-off period," Segal joked.
According to Segal, employers also should be on the lookout for new laws that: