Article main image
Feb 27, 2014

The National Football League’s longstanding Super Bowl ticket distribution system recently got a legal penalty flag in the form of a consumer lawsuit based on New Jersey state law.

One New Jersey fan resented having to spend $4000 for two tickets in the upper nosebleed section for this month’s Super Bowl and contacted an attorney. Under the NFL ticket distribution scheme, 99 percent of the tickets are pre-committed to the teams, media and sponsors, while loyal fans with no special connections get to fight over the remaining 1 percent of available tickets.

However, this disgruntled fan noted that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act prohibits withholding of more than 5 percent of available tickets for any public event. It appears the NFL’s team of lawyers missed a local law that could end up as a multi-million dollar penalty on the ticket play. The suit is still pending.

Local sick leave policies are spreading

The NFL isn’t alone in finding itself on the business end of a lawsuit based on local statutes.

An employer may be really diligent in complying with all the federal rules and regulations that determine who gets FMLA leave or who was an exempt employee, only to find themselves on the business end of a complaint or lawsuit because state law differs from federal law or the law of their home state.

Many cities in several states have created their own employment regulatory schemes such as San Francisco, with its special sick time and family friendly work environment ordinance that requires employers to discuss the employee’s request for more friendly work hours.

Employees these days can be scattered everywhere, regardless of where a business is based. If the NFL can’t keep track of local laws, how is the average employer supposed to comply with a crazy quilt of federal, state, county and city laws and regulations concerning pay, leave, sick time, and work schedules?

Issues when employees travel

What, for example, is your obligation for an employee who attended that five-day seminar or trade show in San Francisco? If he hadn’t accrued sick leave before he went to San Francisco he has some now if he spent at least 40 hours in that weeklong event, because San Francisco has mandatory leave for anyone who works at least 40 hours there.

But wait — he then flew up to Portland for temporary duties at the Portland sales office. If he didn’t earn enough time for sick leave in San Francisco he can get it now based on the Portland ordinance.

Employee travel is a fact of life but in many cases it may subject the employer to additional leave and pay requirements. For example, in some states your IT personnel are considered exempt while in other states they are not and must be paid an hourly wage with overtime.

HR departments are at the same risk as the NFL if they miss a local law or regulation that affects leave requirements. Employers need a HRIS system that is capable of tracking these multiple leaves and keeps them compliant with an ever-multiplying labyrinth of employment law and regulation.

If your system isn’t alerting you to compliance issues like this one, be prepared to suffer a penalty flag.

This originally appeared on the GeniusHR blog.