R.I.P: Several Bills Affecting Delaware Employers Killed by the Legislature

Delaware’s General Assembly put to rest several bills that would have had substantial negative impact on the State’s employers.  The 144th General Assembly concluded on June 30th without having passed several controversial pieces of legislation.  Here are the highlights:

Independent Contractors

Perhaps the most controversial bill that died on June 30 was House Bill 468. This bill, called the Construction Industry Independent Contractor Act would have imposed substantial penalties on contractors who improperly classify their employees, including fines, terms of imprisonment, and loss of business licenses. A previous blog post discusses this bill in greater detail, see Construction-Industry Employers Should Be Aware of Proposed Legislation

Sexual-Orientation Discrimination

A bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment as well as housing, public works contracting, public accommodations, and insurance and grants was shot down again. Senate Bill 144 was the just latest attempt to expand the anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation.   Although this bill was defeated, it is sure to be resurrected in the next General Assembly, just as it has for the last nine years.

Elimination of Employment At-Will

Another perennial loser, a bill eliminating the employment at-will doctrine, was again sent to its grave. House Bill 327 never got out of committee.

Minimum Wage Bills

Finally, two bills that would have increased the minimum wage expired on June 30. Senate Bill 204 would have increased the minimum wage from $7.15 per hour to $7.75 per hour effective March 1, 2009, and from $7.75 per hour to $8.25 per hour effective March 1, 2010. If passed, Delaware’s minimum wage would have been the highest in the nation.

And, Senate Bill 280  would have increased the minimum wage for “tipped” employees on January 1 of each year through 2012.  The rate would have increased from the current $2.23 per hour to $2.51 per hour on January 1, 2009; to $2.86 per hour on January 1, 2010; to $3.32 per hour on January 1, 2011; and to$3.57 per hour on January 1, 2012.  The minimum wage for “tipped” employees has been $2.23 per hour since 1987.