Legislation lowdown: the latest legislation HR pros should know about

The end of the Covid-19 public health emergency signals a new era of workplace policy for HR departments.
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· 4 min read

Vaccine mandates are out; physical I-9 inspections are in.

That was the message sent by federal agencies this month after the government ended the Covid-19 public-health emergency, prompting a number of changes to employment policies and guidance rolled out during the pandemic.

HR Brew put together a non-exhaustive list of recent workplace-related policy updates that should be on HR’s radar.


New Covid-19 guidance. The White House no longer requires federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated for Covid-19, due to the end of the federal public health emergency.

The previous mandate, issued in September 2021 required vaccinations for not only federal workers, but also staff of businesses with more than 100 employees. Though many large private employers instituted vaccine requirements in response to the order, that mandate was ultimately blocked by the Supreme Court.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published an update to its Covid-19 guidance on May 15, and warned employers to be on the lookout for employees or applicants who are experiencing harassment or discrimination for taking Covid-19 precautions, such as wearing a mask due to a disability-related need.

Bye-bye, I-9 flexibility. After July 31, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer allow employers to inspect employees’ I-9 and work authorization documents remotely, the agency announced on May 4. The flexibility was introduced in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

HR departments have until the end of August to inspect in person the I-9 forms of employees who joined organizations remotely.

AI on EEOC’s radar. The EEOC released a document on May 18 urging employers to evaluate whether their use of AI and other automated systems for decision-making, such as hiring or firing, may lead to discriminatory outcomes. Such systems, the EEOC has warned, could run afoul of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

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The guidance recommends employers check to see whether AI or other automated technology is selecting certain protected groups of individuals—such as for a new job or a promotion—at a “substantially” lower rate than others.

State and local

New York City. Mayor Eric Adams signed legislation on May 26 that bans employers from discriminating against workers based on their height or weight. The protections extend to housing and public accommodations.

Additionally, the city will begin enforcing Local Law 144, which requires employers to audit “automated employment decision tools” for bias, on July 5.

Texas. On May 27, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that bans race-based hair discrimination in the workplace, as well as in schools and housing. The legislation is part of a growing movement by states to foster more inclusive working environments for employees of color.

Florida will require private employers with at least 25 employees to use E-Verify, a federal tool that verifies eligibility to work in the US, starting July 1. The legislation, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law on May 10, is part of a broader crackdown on immigration in the state. It has spurred construction workers to stay home from work out of fear of deportation, CBS News Miami reported.

Minnesota. As of July 1, employers in the North Star State will be prohibited from entering into noncompete agreements with employees. It’s the fourth state to ban such agreements, following California, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, as well as the District of Columbia. Nine other states have partial bans.

At the national level, the Federal Trade Commission has proposed a ban on noncompetes, arguing the practice “suppresses wages, hampers innovation, and blocks entrepreneurs from starting new businesses.” Jennifer Abruzzo, general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, issued a memo on May 30 indicating “overbroad non-compete agreements” are unlawful.

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