April 1, 2012

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Article

Employment Law

Not Much New in 2012

Michael Patrick O’Brien, Employment Law Attorney, Jones Waldo

April 1, 2012

At least when it comes to employment law issues, the 2012 session of the Utah State Legislature was more noteworthy for the bills it rejected than for those bills that actually became law. 

The Legislature rejected bills that would have: (1) imposed a statewide prohibition on job discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity; (2) repealed the guest worker provisions enacted last year as part of the Legislature’s immigration law reform package; (3) imposed stiff penalties on employers for not using E-Verify; (4) required public employers to adopt policies prohibiting bullying, defined as including repeated verbal abuse, verbal or physical threatening conduct, sabotage or undermining of work performance, or attempts to exploit known psychological or physical vulnerability; and (5) prohibited collective bargaining by public employees except regarding wages and benefits.

Some of these matters are addressed by local law. A number of Utah cities and counties already prohibit businesses within their jurisdictions from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. These local governments are Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Park City, Summit County, Taylorsville, West Valley City, Murray, Midvale, Moab, Grand County, Ogden and Logan. Utah law also currently requires employers to use E-Verify, but there are no real penalties for failing to do so.

The one significant employment law change the Legislature passed involves Utah’s public schools. Lawmakers from both political parties, teachers and education leaders all agreed on SB64. According to a Salt Lake Tribune summary, the new law requires yearly evaluations of administrators based on academic progress, ability to complete teacher evaluations, and feedback from parents, employees and students, and it ties some of their pay to performance. The bill also establishes four new performance categories for all employees, including teachers, based on annual evaluations. Those who receive low ratings would not get scheduled raises and could eventually be fired.   

 

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