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Navigating Inter-State Employment: Which Laws Must You Follow?

In today’s interconnected business landscape, companies often operate across state lines. Whether it’s a project in New York City, a client meeting in Connecticut, or a conference in New Jersey, the mobility of the modern workforce presents both opportunities and challenges for employers. Employers who send employees across state lines, even if infrequently, may unwittingly find themselves responsible for complying with a host of new laws. From wage and hour regulations to discrimination and harassment policies, each state has its own set of rules governing the employer-employee relationship. Employers need to know these obligations or act at their own peril. While this article focuses on temporary work in foreign states, the issue also exists for remote workers – but that is another topic!

One of the key areas is wage and hour laws. Each state has its own minimum wage rate, overtime provisions, and meal and rest break requirements, to name just a few. If your state rule is not as generous as where you sent the employee, you are breaking the law. For example, Connecticut and New York state’s minimum wage rates, lunch break rules, and sexual harassment training obligations all differ.  Employers of temporary workers need to follow the law in the state where the work is performed, even if the assignment is only for the afternoon.

State laws addressing employee rights and benefits are diverse. Consider the following samples:

  • Earned Sick Leave Laws;
  • Sex Harassment Trainings;
  • Temporary Schedule Change Protections;
  • Drug Testing;
  • Meal Periods;
  • Spread of Hour Laws;
  • Electronic Monitoring Laws;
  • Protection from Employment Discrimination Based on Marital Status, Sexual Preference, Height, Weight, and even Age for those Under 40;
  • Workplace Safety Rules;
  • Lay Off Protections; and
  • Industry Specific Protections.

To navigate these complexities and ensure compliance across state lines, employers should consider the following proactive measures:

  1. Identify all states in which your employees work.
  2. Conduct a review of applicable laws. Employers should invest time and resources in identifying the employment laws in all states where they send employees. Some of these laws are straightforward while others are not. Obtain the assistance you need to understand your obligations.
  3. Update policies and procedures. Employers should review and revise their employment policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the relevant laws. However, be careful to word your policies so your employees working in your home state do not feel short-changed based on more generous policies existing in foreign states.
  4. Provide training and education. Employers should train managers and employees on their rights and obligations under the laws of each state, including how to identify and address potential compliance issues.
  5. Seek legal guidance. When in doubt, consult experienced employment law attorneys who can provide guidance on navigating the complexities of inter-state employment.

By taking these proactive steps, employers can minimize the risk of running afoul of employment laws when sending employees across state lines.

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest state and federal employment laws. The subject matter of this post can be very technical. It is also very fact specific. Our goal is to alert you to some of the new laws and trends which may impact your business.  It is not intended to serve as legal advice. We encourage you to seek competent legal counsel before implementing any of the new policies or practices discussed above.  If we can be of assistance, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.