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Hostile Work Environment Definition

New Work Laws Protecting You in 2009

With a new year come new laws that can protect you.

At the Federal level, new laws went into effect on January 1, 2009 which expand the definiation of “disability” under the ADA, and extend and expand FMLA protection for people who have had a loved one serving in the military.  The Federal minimum wage will also go up on July 24, 2009 to $7.25 per hour. (Until then the Federal minimum wage is $6.55 per hour).

At the state level, a bevy of new laws come into effect.  In California, for instance, new laws address meal and rest periods, pay for computer professionals, work comp reporting, and (during your commute) ban text messaging while driving.

New laws in Illinois also expands the reach of both the FMLA and ADA as applied in that state, by making eating disorders qualify under the law as “serious mental illnesses.”  This will also give individulas with these disorders the ability to get insurance coverage for treatments.

Illinois also passed a law prohibiting employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of genetic testing.  The fear was that employers would eliminate applicants who have a family history of breast cancer, for instance, because if hired the applicant would be more likely to miss large amounts of work time and cause insurance rates to increase.  Of course, the applicant may actually never get breast cancer and thus the “discrimination” this law tries to ban.

New Mexico raised it’s state’s minimum wage to $7.50 per hour.  Be a aware that specific cities are free to increase the minimum wage even higher than the the state level.  For instance, even though New Mexico’s minimum wage is now $7.50, if you are working in the City of Santa Fe you get the City’s whopping minimum wage rate that just went up to $9.92 per hour.

And finally, be sure you stop peeing in public when visiting New Hampshire.  In 2009 the Granite State makes public urination a legal violation punishable by a $1,000 fine.

Is the minimum wage also increasing in your state?  Are their new laws going to effect in your area?  Tell us in the comments section!

Curt K. (The Undercover Lawyer)

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  1. I work at an “at will” job. My boss is very abusive, and makes for a very uncomfortable work environment. There are only 5 employees and we all cringe the thought of having to go to work. We all have to endure her and her husband publicly fighting in the office, and she lets all of us know we aren’t worth anything. She has recently cut my pay stating that she cant afford to pay me what I am worth, but doesn’t want me to leave either. All of this has caused extreme issues financially and physically for me. I don’t want to quit my job, because I can’t afford to do this, but I also cannot afford to stay with the pay cut. I’m at a loss. I need answers fast. What do I do? Who can I turn to? Would appreciate any helpful tips.

  2. You probably qualify for unemployment if she cut your pay; even without leaving your job.

    Also, can you think of any way that she treats you worse than the other employees?

  3. I worked for a casino in Shreveport, LA and have worked there for 8 years. I have had benefits with the company for the past 2 1/2 years until Feb. 10 when I was fired. I was told I was being fired for excessive absences during the past month (I have AIDS and a serious neck problem for which I was being treated). I had explained to them the previous day that I had AIDS, so they knew well that I had a disability before firing me. They were also aware that I was under doctors treatment for both illnesses. They day after I was fired, I received a call from Human Resources that they had “reconsidered” their decision, and that I could come back, but without benefits. They say that I should have never had benefits in the first place since I didn’t have the required hours to qualify for such…even though I had had them for 2.5 years! In my opinion, their “reconsideration” had come a day TOO LATE! Now they’re trying to say that they’re considering me to be on medical leave! I consider myself to be FIRED, just as they said originally! They believe themselves too big to be fought, but I intend to prove them wrong one way or another! If I’m fired, I’m fired…it’s MY decision whether or not to go back! Can they toy with me like this?? I’m trying to find a lawyer, but most, I believe, are too scared to fight a casino. I can’t begin to tell you the emotional stress this has put me through…there HAS to be a law to protect someone like me from this kind of bullying!

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