Compliance Corner: 2019 in Review

Compliance Corner: 2019 in Review

Throughout 2019, we’ve covered some of the biggest compliance issues impacting employers. New legislation took effect across the world, and the courts weighed in on important issues. As 2019 comes to a close, here are some of the biggest topics of the year.

Sexual Harassment Enforcement

After the #MeToo movement drew attention to issues of sexual harassment in the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) signaled it would increase enforcement of sexual harassment claims. Data released in early 2019 revealed a more than 50% increase in lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and an increase of $22 million recovered for victims of sexual harassment over the previous year.

Human Trafficking Awareness

A new law that took effect in January 2019 requires workers in certain industries to undergo training on how to identify victims of human trafficking. The law is designed to “encourage employers to take all reasonable steps necessary to lead to the rescue of human trafficking victims and prevent any kind of human trafficking in their establishments.”

Biometric Data

At least four U.S. states evaluated new laws or updates to existing laws regarding the collection and storage of biometric data. This includes fingerprints, retina or iris scans, voiceprints or scans or records for hand or face geometry. Depending on the state, laws can also include things like keystroke and gait patterns as well as sleep, health and exercise data that contain identifying information.

Modern Slavery and Supply Chain Reporting

In an effort to fight modern slavery and human trafficking, some nations, including the UK, France and Australia, have implemented supply chain reporting laws that require larger companies to publish yearly statements about the steps they take to minimize the risk of modern slavery infiltrating their business, including supply changes. The goal is to get large companies involved in eradicating modern slavery.

Overtime Pay

In 2019, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) changed the “white collar” overtime exemption regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule regulates overtime and implements exemptions from the overtime pay requirements for executive, administrative, professional and certain other employees. The new rule raises the pay threshold for exempt overtime workers to $35,588 per year or $684 per week.

Pre-employment Marijuana Screening

In June 2019, Nevada became the first U.S. state to ban employers from failing, or refusing, to hire a prospective employee because the person “submitted to a screening test and the results of the screening test indicate the presence of marijuana.”

Natural Hairstyle Discrimination

In 2019, New York became the second state in the U.S. to ban discrimination based on natural hairstyles. The law is intended to prohibit dress codes or appearance policies that target people of color, particularly black people, by banning traditional hairstyles like cornrows, braids, Bantu knots, twists, fades, afros and dreadlocks or locs. California also passed a similar law.

Wage Theft

In 2019, New Jersey passed the New Jersey Wage Theft Act, one of the strongest wage theft laws in the U.S. It requires employers to provide current and newly hired employees with a written statement of their wage rights. It also increases punishments for wage theft violations to include the potential for jail time.

New California Laws for 2020

A number of new laws are set to take effect in California in 2020. The three biggest changes are the “ABC test,” which formally sets criteria for who may be classified as an independent contractor; the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which is one of the toughest data privacy laws in the U.S. and is similar to GDPR; and new sexual harassment and training requirements.

International Fraud Awareness

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), companies lose an estimated 5% of their revenue annually due to fraud. Fraud takes many shapes and forms, among them corporate fraud, consumer fraud, tax fraud, identity theft and many others. The ACFE provides a list of tips for fighting fraud.

Compliance Corner is a feature on the PeopleScout website. Understanding the patchwork of labor laws across the world is complicated, but it’s part of what we do best. If you have questions on the compliance issue discussed in this article, please reach out to your PeopleScout account team or contact us at

Post by Nicole Fuqua