New York lawmakers have been busy this summer. First, in June, they passed a suite of bills significantly expanding the protections afforded by the state’s antidiscrimination law and adding remedies for employees asserting unpaid wage claims. Then in July, they loosened the definition of retaliation under the state’s labor law. They apparently were not done.
Cindy Schmitt Minniti
Connecticut enacts expansive sexual harassment prevention measures
Connecticut has joined New York, New Jersey, and several other states in adopting measures to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Effective October 1, 2019, Connecticut employers will have a host of new training, notice, and human resources requirements with which to comply — and will now face new, substantial categories of damages for violations. This post will discuss these new changes, as well as the other expanded employee protections afforded under this new legislation.
Mandatory training for employees and supervisors
Under Connecticut’s new law, employers with three or more employees must provide all employees with two hours of sexual harassment prevention training. Existing employees must be trained by October 1, 2020, and employees hired on or after October 1, 2019, must be trained within six months of hire. In addition, all employers regardless of size will be required to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors. Supervisor training must be provided by October 1, 2020, or within six months of an employee assuming a supervisory role. (Previously, supervisor training was required only for employers with more than 50 employees in Connecticut.) While the new law does not require annual training, Connecticut employers must provide supplemental training not less than every 10 years.
That training must include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of harassment. The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) has been tasked with creating training resources employers may use to satisfy this requirement, as well as general resources on sexual harassment.…
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New York Continues Expansion of Worker Wage Protections (Part 2)
This is the second installment of our two-part blog series on recent wage-related changes to New York state law. In part one, we covered the expanded definition of retaliation under the New York Labor Law. Today, we will discuss a bill that permits employees to place wage liens on their employer’s property.
Employees in New York have long been able to seek recourse for wage claims through litigation in federal and state court, as well as through the federal and state Departments of Labor. Under this new legislation, employees will also be able to place a lien on an employer’s real or personal property for the value of an alleged wage claim and related liquidated damages. A “wage claim” under the bill includes federal and state claims related to minimum wage, overtime, spread of hours, unlawful deductions, withheld gratuities, improper tip and meal credits, and compensation under employment agreements. Employees of all classifications and pay rates will be able to obtain wage liens within three years after their employment ends.…
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New York Continues Expansion of Worker Wage Protections (Part 1)
The New York state legislature recently passed two bills providing additional protections to employees asserting unpaid wage claims. These changes are the latest in the state’s overhaul of its employment law landscape this summer. As we discussed in previous posts, New York recently enacted limitations on the use of nondisclosure provisions in settlement and separation agreements, new standards for litigating and defending harassment claims, expanded equal pay protections, a statewide ban on salary history inquiries, and additional changes to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. We will address the two new laws and their implications in this two-part series.
The first bill expands the definition of retaliation under the New York Labor Law. By way of background, New York has long prohibited retaliation against employees who complain of alleged wage violations or otherwise cooperate with state regulators regarding an alleged violation of wage and hour laws. Specifically, an employer cannot “discharge, threaten, penalize, or in any other manner discriminate or retaliate against any employee” for complaining about wage practices such as minimum wage violations, unpaid overtime, improper deductions, and the like.…
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Don’t Fuggedaboutit: Keeping up with the ever-changing New York State and City employment law landscape
New York State and City legislators have enacted a flurry of new workplace-related regulations in the past few years. The new laws touch upon everything from high-profile issues like sexual harassment prevention and paid family leave, to seemingly more mundane matters like paid time off to vote. With this bustle of legislative activity, it is entirely possible that one or more of the new laws flew under your radar. With that in mind, we want to flag some of the more important New York State and City legislative developments from the past few years (with corresponding links to our prior posts on these topics):…
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Attention employers: Westchester’s earned sick leave law is now in effect
Effective April 10, 2019, certain employers must comply with Westchester County’s Earned Sick Leave Law (WESLL). Westchester County’s Human Rights Commission recently released additional guidance about the new law, which can be found here.
Eligibility, accrual and carryover
Generally, under the law, full- and part-time Westchester County employees who work 80 hours or more during a calendar year are eligible to use sick leave for the care and treatment of themselves or a family member. The law requires employers with five or more employees to allow eligible employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave per every 30 hours worked, with a cap of 40 hours of leave per calendar year. Employers with one to four employees must provide the same benefits, but the leave may be unpaid. WESLL leave begins accruing on the later of July 10, 2019, or the first date of employment.
Employers have the option of applying the WESLL or, alternatively, the employer can front-load sick and personal time equal to 40 hours or more, at the beginning of a calendar year. In addition, employees are permitted to carry over a maximum of 40 hours of unused sick leave at the end of the year.…
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New York City Council gives the green light to a ban on marijuana testing for job applicants
On April 9, 2019, New York City Council passed a bill amending the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), to bar NYC employers from testing prospective employees for marijuana use. The Bill comes in the wake of the City’s efforts to reduce the legal consequences of marijuana use, including reducing arrests and prosecutions for low-level marijuana-related crimes.
The text of the Bill declares it to be “an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer … to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” However, the Bill excludes the following jobs from the ban:
- Police officers
- Peace officers
- Positions with a law enforcement or investigative function at the New York City Department of Investigations
- Workers on construction sites
- Positions requiring a commercial driver’s license
- Positions requiring the supervision or care of children, medical patients, or vulnerable persons
- Positions with the potential to significantly impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public
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New York provides employees with additional hour of paid time off to vote
Though the business community might not have had a vote in it, New York legislators have amended the State’s election laws to provide employees with an additional hour of paid time off to vote on election days.
Until recently, New York law required employers to provide workers with up to two hours of paid time off to vote. A convoluted scheme, however – hinging, in large part, on the employee’s specific election day work schedule – governed whether and to what extent employees were entitled to take such time off. Under the new, more streamlined law, employees may take up to three hours of paid time off to vote – a one-hour bump – regardless of their work schedule (although the employer may designate that the time be taken at the beginning or end of a shift).…
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Are non-NYC employees subject to the City’s new sexual harassment prevention training law?
By now, our readers are aware that New York State and City law require annual workplace sexual harassment prevention training. The State law requiring such training took effect last October, and mandates that employers complete the initial training by October 9, 2019. The separate City law became effective just a few weeks ago, on April 1. It requires that covered employers – meaning businesses with 15 or more employees in NYC – comply with the City-specific training requirements by year-end.
In conjunction with the rollout of the City law, the NYC Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR), the agency tasked with administering the law, issued a series of FAQs to help employers navigate their new training-related obligations. The FAQs – which are not binding law, but do suggest how the NYCCHR will interpret and enforce the law – provide valuable insight. Consistent with the NYC Human Rights Law’s (NYCHRL) definition of “employee,” for instance, the FAQs note that “[a]n employer is required to train independent contractors who have performed work in the furtherance of the business for more than 90 days and more than 80 hours in a calendar year.” As the NYCCHR explains, “independent contractors – regardless of the number of days or hours they work – are considered employees for the purposes of determining whether an employer is obligated to provide the annual sexual harassment training.”…
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New York’s highest court holds that home health aides are not entitled to 24-hour pay
Recently, New York’s highest state court, the Court of Appeals, held that the New York Labor Law (NYLL) does not automatically entitle New York home health care providers to wages for each hour worked during a 24-hour shift.
The ruling is the result of an appeal of two state court class actions in which home health aides accused their employers of violating NYLL by failing to pay minimum wage for each hour of their 24-hour shifts. The dispute arose due to a phrase in the New York State Department of Labor’s (DOL) Minimum Wage Order Number 11 for Miscellaneous Industries and Occupations (the regulation), which states that workers must be paid minimum wage for the time they are “required to be available for work at a place prescribed by the employer.” Plaintiffs in both cases alleged that they were entitled to 24-hour pay because their patients could not be left alone and often needed assistance throughout the night, thereby requiring them to be available for work for their entire shift.…
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