Human resources law

The Most Unusual, Even Wacky, HR Laws Nationwide

The Most Unusual, Even Wacky, HR Laws Nationwide
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Local HR laws are confusing enough; try throwing in factors like multiple offices and remote employees spanning multiple states, and as an employer, you're looking at a tangle of rules and regulations. From the East Coast to the West Coast, the Midwest to the South, each state has different laws governing everything from payroll rules to discrimination policies.

Related: Where Marijuana Is Legal HR Policy Needs to Adjust

Today’s HR professionals are bound to come across new, and sometimes even strange, HR laws. Here’s a look at some of the craziest workplace laws on the books across the country dealing with some of the hottest topics in employment:

Noncompete agreements

  • North Dakota: Although noncompete agreements are pretty standard in today’s workplace, they aren’t enforceable in North Dakota. Noncompete agreements are allowed only between or among business partners and between the buyers and sellers of a company, but may not include employees.

  • Arkansas: When noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements in Arkansas need to be revised because they're overbroad, employers have to start from scratch; in fact, the whole agreement needs to be thrown out and employers need to start over. The courts won’t allow for the editing of those agreements.

Salary

  • California: California is notoriously tricky when it comes to HR compliance, and overtime is also calculated differently in the state -- a factor which is especially important, considering the recent update to national overtime rules.

In the Golden State, employees are paid time-and-a-half after an eight hour day, 40-hour work week and for the first eight hours they work on the seventh consecutive day worked in a week. Employees are also entitled to double-time pay if they work more than 12 hours in a day, or more than 8 hours on the seventh consecutive day of work.

  • Indiana: In Indiana, reducing employee pay is nearly impossible. Wage deductions are permitted only with a written agreement that the employee has to sign and that he or she may revoke at any time. It also must comply with one of the allowable reasons for reducing pay as outlined in the statute. If employers violate this law, employees may recover triple the amount of usual damages and attorney’s fees.

Related: Prepare for Family Leave Laws and Avoid Litigation Later

Payroll

  • New Hampshire: New Hampshire takes pay transparency to a new legal level. Employers must notify employees in writing when they are first hired and before any changes are made, about their rate of pay or salary -- whether they are paid daily, weekly, biweekly, semimonthly or yearly commissions. Notifications must also detail the day and place of payment and the specific methods used to determine pay.

  • Utah: Although most states require employers to provide an alternative method of pay to direct deposit, Utah allows employers to mandate direct deposit if their federal employment tax deposit from the previous calendar year was at least $250,000, and if two-thirds of their employees are already using direct deposit.

Discrimination

  • Michigan: Discrimination isn’t limited to race, age and gender in Michigan. Workplace discrimination or harassment based on height or weight is also against the law.

  • Ohio: In the Buckeye State employers aren’t the only ones held responsible for discrimination claims -- managers and human resources staff may be liable, too. These individuals can be held accountable with, or separately from, the employer in these cases.

Drugs and alcohol

  • Minnesota: In most states, failing a drug test is grounds for termination, but the law requires employers to do things differently in Minnesota. Employees who test positive for drugs or alcohol must be allowed their first time to complete treatment programs and return to work.

  • Arizona: In Arizona, employers can’t discriminate against employees who use medical marijuana, based on their status as a cardholder, or if they test positive for the substance in a drug test. There is an exception for safety-sensitive positions, but it’s usually unavailable to multi-state employers, as it requires employers to have a drug test policy that complies with Arizona’s drug testing statute.

Terms of employment

  • South Carolina: At-will employment disclaimers aren’t valid in South Carolina unless they are printed on the cover page of employee handbooks in underlined, capital letters.

  • Georgia: When employees in Georgia leave for active military service, they are guaranteed to have a job waiting for them when they return. State law requires employers to give employees unlimited leave for military service and to restore them to the same or similar position and pay after they serve.

And the most bizarre . . . 

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Firing an Employee

  • Florida: Employees are allowed to bring guns to work in Florida, as long as they keep them in their cars. The state’s “guns-at-work” law states that employers cannot prohibit employees, as well as customers and those invited on the premises, from possessing a legally owned firearm if the gun is locked inside a private motor vehicle.

  • Virginia: In Virginia, employers should be careful that everything they state in employee performance evaluations is true and accurate. Employers in the state may be held liable for defamation based on what they write in performance evaluations.