Most non-government workplaces in Arizona must comply not only with Federal laws relating to discrimination, harassment and family medical leaves of absence, but also with Arizona and Municipal laws on those same subjects. Following is a brief discussion of various Arizona or local discrimination, harassment and family medical leave laws.
Discrimination and Harassment
As an initial matter, whether an employee is protected under State or Municipal law depends on the number of employees, however, generally employees in the following categories are protected by law from discrimination and harassment: age (over 40 years old), race, disability, gender (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, genetic information and religion. In addition, veterans and military personnel are afforded certain employment protections under specific statutes.
The Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of age (40 years or older; A.R.S. § 41-1463). A private employer is covered by the Act if it has 15 or more employees on each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year (A.R.S. § 41-1461(6)). [Because the Arizona Civil Rights Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees, and the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to employers with 20 or more employees, an individual claiming age discrimination might have a cause of action against an employer under the Arizona Civil Rights Act, but not under the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.]
Race, Color, National Origin
The Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin (A.R.S. § 41-1463). If an employee believes that he/she has been discriminated against, he/she has 180 days to file a complaint with the Arizona Civil Rights Division. However, because Arizona is a “dual filing” state, any charge filed within 300 days of the alleged discrimination will be deemed timely filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of a physical or mental disability (A.R.S. § 41-1463).
The Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of gender (A.R.S. § 41-1463). Discrimination based on gender generally includes discrimination related to maternity and pregnancy. While the Act’s jurisdiction is generally limited to employers with 15 or more employees, claims for sexual harassment under the act may be brought against employers with only one employee.
Arizona does not prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, several Arizona municipalities, including Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson, Tempe, and Sedona, do prohibit such discrimination.
The Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of religion (A.R.S. § 41-1463).
The Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disability. State law makes it unlawful for an employer to “fail or refuse to hire, to discharge, or to otherwise discriminate against any individual based on the results of a genetic test received by the employer.”
Pursuant to Arizona law, an employee may bring a charge for sexual harassment against employers with one or more employees in the current or preceding calendar year. Employers may obtain injunctions against an employee who has engaged in workplace harassment, pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-1810.
Under Arizona law, an employee may bring a constructive discharge claim without prior written notice in the event of outrageous conduct by the employer or a managing agent of the employer, including:
- sexual assault;
- threats of violence directed at the employee;
- a continuous pattern of discriminatory harassment; and
- other similar kinds of conduct, if the conduct could cause a reasonable employee to feel compelled to resign (A.R.S. § 23-1502(F)).
The law contains a safe harbor provision which extends protections to an employer against constructive discharge claims if the employer has complied with the statute’s notice posting requirements and the claimant has failed to comply with the requirements of A.R.S. § 23-1502.
Family and Medical Leave, Military Leave, Crime Victim Leave
Arizona Paid Sick Leave Law
Arizona recently adopted a form of family and medical leave law, which took effect on July 1, 2017. The Arizona law requires private and municipal employers to begin accruing for each employee upon hire (or for current employees, on July 1, 2016) a minimum of one hour of “paid sick time” for every 30 hours worked. For companies with 15 or more employees, each employee must be allowed to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year (A.R.S. § 23-372(A)). In companies with fewer than 15 employees, each employee must be allowed to accrue up to 24 hours of paid sick time per year (A.R.S. § 23-372(B)). The law includes part-time and temporary workers as “employees” for paid sick time purposes.
Employees must be allowed to use accrued paid sick time for a variety of reasons set forth in the statute. The list includes personal physical or mental illness; to care for a family member suffering from a physical or mental illness; during public health emergencies; and to address various issues related to domestic violence (A.R.S. § 23-373).
An employer may choose to “front load” employees’ PSL each calendar year rather than require employees to accrue, in which case employers may choose not to carry unused accrued PSL from one year to the next. In contrast, in workplaces in which employees must accrue PSL, any unused accrued PSL must carry over from one year to the next. However, whether under a “front load” system or an accrual one, the law allows employers to limit the amount of PSL that may be used in a year to 24 or 40 (depending on the number of employees in the workplace. The law does not require employers to pay out unused “front loaded” or “accrued” hours either at the end of a year or upon termination (regardless of the reason). (A.R.S. § 23-372).
Retaliating against an employee for using PSL is prohibited by law. Any adverse action taken within 90 days of an employee exercising his/her PSL rights creates a presumption of retaliation.
Under Arizona law employers must permit a member of the military or National Guard to take a leave of absence to comply with active duty orders or to attend camps, maneuvers, formations, or armory drills (A.R.S. § 26-168(A)).
Pursuant to Arizona law, victims of crimes must be allowed to miss work without negative repercussion so that he/she may attend a hearing or obtain an order of protection (A.R.S. § 13-4439).
The above is a very broad and cursory overview of some of the Arizona state laws affording employees protections. In addition, a number of federal laws should be considered in evaluating employment policies and actions. The lawyers at Faulkner Law Offices, PLLC have decades of experience in counseling and representing both management and employees and can assist you in understanding and applying the myriad of state and federal employment laws.