At the stroke of midnight last night, Utah’s 2016 Legislative Session came to a close. Several new laws were passed that will impact Utah employers. Here are a few highlights:
Non-Competes. Many of you have been following House Bill 251 that took aim at covenants not to compete. After much disputing and negotiating, the final version of the bill (entitled the Post-Employment Restrictions Act) makes void any post-employment restrictive covenants of more than one year in duration (expressly excluding nonsolicitation, nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements) entered into on or after May 10, 2016. Employers should beware that any non-complying noncompete provision will be void and unenforceable – not just limited to a one year enforcement period. Employees may also recover fees and costs if litigating against a void covenant. Employers should carefully review employment agreements and other instruments, as well as policies and procedures to ensure compliance. We recommend review of these forms by counsel. The Act has exceptions for “reasonable” severance agreements, and non-compete agreements stemming from the sale of a business under some circumstances. (By Greg Saylin)
Computer Technicians. Utah passed a law requiring the Reporting of Child Pornography, including criminal penalties for those who violate it. A computer technician who comes across what is or appears to be child pornography on a computer or other electronic device in the course of employment must report that image or be guilty of a class B misdemeanor. The report must be made to either: (1) a state or local law enforcement agency, or the Cyber Tip Line at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or (2) an employee designated by the employer to receive and forward any such reports to one of the aforementioned agencies. The technician will not be held liable for failing to report the image based on a reasonable belief that the image was of a person 18 years or older. Moreover, a technician or designated employee acting in good faith in either making or not making a report is immune from criminal or civil liability related to reporting or not reporting the image. Employers should train their computer technicians on the reporting requirements and consider designating a manager to receive reports from employees. (By David Kelley)
Accommodations for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Employees. Senate Bill 59 amends the Utah Antidiscrimination Act to require that all covered employers (including any person with fifteen or more employees) provide a requesting employee with a reasonable accommodation related to pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related conditions. The employer may not terminate or deny employment opportunities on the basis of the above listed conditions. There is an exception to the requirement to provide a requested accommodation when it would be an undue hardship, defined as creating “significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to factors such as the size of the entity, the entity’s financial resources, and the nature and structure of the entity’s operation.” Employers should train supervisors and managers on the new requirements to ensure compliance. (By Kirsten Allen)
If you have questions or need assistance, please contact your Fabian VanCott attorney or any member of the Employment & Labor Group.