2023 was a tumultuous year for employers (and employment lawyers). As the year comes to a close, we share some of 2023’s significant changes to the employment law landscape.
Shortly after the new year, on January 5th, the Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule to limit the use of non-compete clauses and other clauses relating to worker mobility. The NLRB quickly followed suit in McLaren Macomb, finding unlawful those severance agreements that broadly waive rights in non-disparagement and confidentiality provisions.
Employment law changes continued throughout the summer, as the NLRB expanded the definition of “employee” for purposes of coverage under the NLRA, and then the EEOC stepped in. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act took effect on June 27, 2023, extending protections to employees beyond those already offered by Title VII and the ADA.
In September, the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan set forth the EEOC’s priorities for the years 2024-2028. The end of the year has been headlined by the NLRB, which issued a final rule for joint employer status and entered into a memorandum of understanding with OSHA to coordinate efforts on enforcement–leading to more hurdles for employers. The NLRB also targeted everyone’s favorite online retailer, Amazon. In a scathing decision, Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito found that Amazon violated the NLRA following unfair labor charges filed by the Amazon Labor Union.
It has been a challenging year for employers, and as we look forward to 2024, we will pay particular attention to how these agencies and the courts enforce 2023’s changes. We expect the FTC to issue a final rule limiting non-compete clauses in the spring and for agencies to continue enforcement efforts in accordance with all of these regulations—potentially leading to further complications for employers.