Workplace Laws and Regulations

On August 3, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the implementation of New York’s Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus Program (the Bonus Program). The Bonus Program, passed as part of the State budget, amends New York Social Services Law by requiring qualified employers to pay up to $3,000 in bonuses to certain health care and mental hygiene workers over statutory vesting periods. This post details the eligibility, qualifications, and employer obligations under the Bonus Program.

Which employers and employees are subject to the Bonus Program?

A qualified employer is an employer with at least one employee that either: (i) bills under the state Medicaid plan; (ii) bills under the home or community-based services waiver; or (iii) bills for Medicaid through a managed care organization or managed long term care plan. Providers, facilities, pharmacies, and school-based health centers licensed under the New York Public Health, Mental Hygiene, and Education Laws, as well as certain state agency funded programs, fall within this definition.

“Front-line” health care and mental hygiene workers who “provide hands-on health or care services to individuals” are eligible to receive the bonus. This includes full-time and part-time employees and independent contractors who are physically present in New York. To qualify for a bonus under the program, an employee must also: (i) earn less than $125,000 annually; (ii) remain employed by a qualified employer for the duration of at least one vesting period (which the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has established is six months); (iii) have a title included on the list of Eligible Worker Titles published by the NYSDOH; and (iv) not have been suspended or excluded from the Medicaid program during the vesting period.

The NYSDOH further clarified in a Town hall meeting that employees who work remotely, but serve in patient-facing roles such as telehealth nurses and social workers, are also considered eligible employees, provided that they meet the criteria outlined above.

Continue Reading New York implements Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus Program

On August 16, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that gender dysphoria could qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (Williams v. Kincaid, No. 21-2030 (4th Cir. Aug. 16, 2022)) According to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, gender dysphoria

In our original post, we reviewed the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) approval of proposed new regulations by Governor Tom Wolf’s administration concerning tipped employees.

Since then, the Pennsylvania Attorney General completed its review and approved the regulation. The regulation will go into effect on August 5, 2022. Below is a review of

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 24, 2022, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which holds that access to abortion is not a constitutional right, employers are faced with myriad challenges moving forward. Our Labor and Employment lawyers, working with Reed Smith’s Reproductive Health Working Group, address some of

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that prohibits employers from implementing discriminatory practices in their diversity training programs, effective July 1, 2022. The bill, known as the “Individual Freedom Act,” amends the Florida Civil Rights Act, Fla. St. 760.01, et seq., to expand the definition of discrimination and subjects employers to liability for violations.

Expanding the definition of “discrimination”

Specifically, the Individual Freedom Act amends Fla. St. § 760.10, to prohibit public employers and private employers with 15 or more employees from requiring any individual – as a condition of employment, membership, certification, licensing, credentialing, or passing an examination – to participate in training, instruction, or any other required activity that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels the individual to believe any of the following concepts:

  1. Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.
  2. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  3. An individual’s moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.
  4. Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin.
  5. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.
  6. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion.
  7. An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.
  8. Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin to oppress members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.

However, these concepts may be included in training or instruction if they are addressed in an objective manner and without endorsement.

Continue Reading Florida expands definition of “discrimination” and increases employer liability for discrimination in workplace diversity training

In November 2021, Governor Tom Wolf’s administration proposed a new regulation that will require tipped employees to earn at least $135 a month in tips before an employer is permitted to pay the $2.83 per hour tipped rate, rather than state’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Currently, in Pennsylvania, employers can pay tipped employees

It is that time of the year again – a time of fasting, reflection, prayer and community for Muslims all around the world.

In the Middle East, fasting Muslim employees have the added benefit of being able to observe the Holy Month of Ramadan in an environment where their needs are met not just from a social perspective, but also from a legal one by way of reduced working hours.

In the United Arab Emirates, there are three jurisdictions’ laws to take into consideration when assessing how Ramadan would affect your employees’, fasting and non-fasting working environment and we will discuss these here:

Onshore:

Historically, all employees, whether they were fasting or not fasting, Muslim or Non-Muslim, were entitled to reduced working hours during Ramadan (colloquially referred to as “Ramadan Hours”).

There was a bit of uncertainty in the market about how Ramadan Hours would work this year considering the New Labour Law[1] effectively left the position unclear by stating that the working hours during Ramadan will be determined by the Executive Regulations[2]. Speculation was rife and in particular it was expected that Ramadan Hours will only be available to fasting Muslim employees (similar to the DIFC and ADGM).

However, the Executive Regulations, once it was promulgated, provides that regular working hours shall be reduced by two hours per day and does not differentiate between fasting and non-fasting employees.

Therefore, employers outside of the DIFC and ADGM are obliged to comply with the law by giving their employees two hours less per day.
Continue Reading The Ramadan Roundup

On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, official revocation of Virginia’s COVID-19 permanent workplace safety standard became effective upon publication in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. That action followed a vote by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s (DOLI’s) Safety and Health Codes Board (Board) earlier this week.

The Board initiated steps in February to end the standard

As we previously reported, the New York State Senate recently passed a handful of significant employment-related bills. On March 16, Governor Kathy Hochul signed several of the bills into law.

Perhaps most notably, Senate Bill S.5870 bars employers from disclosing an employee’s personnel files because the of the employee’s participation in a workplace complaint

On March 3, President Joe Biden signed into law one of the most significant modifications ever made to federal arbitration law. Known as the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021” (the Act), the new law essentially restricts employers from forcing workplace sexual harassment or assault claims to be resolved