Clyde Snow

2016 Utah Legislative Session & Employment Law

by | Aug 12, 2016

In this year’s legislative session, the Utah Legislature passed the following three bills that Utah employers should take into account in their workplace policies and procedures:

Amendments to the Utah Antidiscrimination Act (SB 59)

Senate Bill 59 added new accommodation requirements to the Utah Antidiscrimination Act specifically within the context of pregnancy, childbirth, and pregnancy-related conditions and the accommodations employers must offer to employees in those categories. While the Act already prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth, employers now may not refuse to provide reasonable accommodations that would not cause an undue hardship for pregnancy, child birth, breastfeeding, or related conditions. 

The Amendment also requires that employers provide employees with written notice, either posted in the workplace or in an employee handbook, of the right to receive pregnancy-related accommodations. As a result, all Utah employers should add a pregnancy-related reasonable accommodation policy to their employee manuals and handbooks and train all managers and supervisors accordingly. 

Franchisor Protections (HB 116)

In recent years, federal agencies such as the National Relations Board have taken the position that franchisors can be held liable as “joint employers” with their franchisees. In response to such position and litigation spurred by the government, HB 116 was created to amend the Utah Payment of Wages Act, the Utah Antidiscrimination Act, and the Utah Employment Security Act to state that a franchisor is not deemed a “joint employer” of a franchisee’s employee so long as the franchisor only exercises the “type or degree of control customarily exercised by a franchisor for the purpose of protecting the franchisor’s trademarks and brand.”  

To further avoid any conflict with past or future NLRB rulings, the new law also precludes Utah courts from relying upon federal administrative rulings when determining joint employer status, unless that rule is adopted by statute or rule or determined to be generally applicable by a court. 

Reporting of Child Pornography (HB 155)

House Bill 155 enacts new Utah Code § 76-10-1204.5 which requires a computer technician who views child pornography of any kind  to report such pornography to a state or local law enforcement agency or the Cyber Tip Line at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. For employers, this could mean that the computer technician be required to report any such finding to the employer who would then be responsible for reporting the finding to a law enforcement agency. A computer technician’s willful failure to report child pornography is a class B misdemeanor. 

The bill provides a broad definition for “computer technician” which encompasses any individual in the course of his work who “installs, maintains, troubleshoots, upgrades, or repairs computer hardware, software, personal computer networks, or peripheral equipment.” Consequently, this law will affect the large majority of Information Technology (“IT”) employees and it is critical that employers train IT staff on the required reporting and perhaps develop a specific reporting procedure by which all IT staff report any images to a single-authorized employee.

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