New Jersey Jumps on the Paid Sick Leave Bandwagon

Asima J. Ahmad

Attention New Jersey employers: It looks like the Garden State is next in line to require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act has now been passed by both the state assembly and senate, and Governor Phil Murphy is expected to sign the bill into law.

Similar to the paid sick leave laws in other states, New Jersey will mandate that employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours. In the alternative, employers can frontload 40 hours of paid sick time on the first day of each benefit year. This can be done through an existing paid time off (“PTO”) policy, so long as the PTO days can be used for any of the reasons permitted under the Act, and are accrued at an equal or greater rate than what the Act requires. The Act states that employers are not required to permit employees to carry over more than 40 hours of paid sick leave from one benefit year to the next, but it appears that carryover is otherwise required. Additionally, employers are not obligated to pay employees for any accrued but unused time upon their separation from the company. Continue reading “New Jersey Jumps on the Paid Sick Leave Bandwagon”

Employers Should Take Notice of New Jersey’s Expected Equal Pay Law

Thomas J. Szymanski

The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (“Act”), directed at remedying discriminatory pay practices in the workplace, was passed by both houses of New Jersey’s Legislature and awaits the signature of Governor Phil Murphy. This is not the first time that the New Jersey Legislature has passed a bill modeled after the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which made it easier to pursue pay-discrimination lawsuits—former Governor Chris Christie previously vetoed nearly identical versions of this bill, based on his stated belief that they were overly-expansive and bad for business. Governor Murphy has pledged to sign the current version of the Act into law, with an anticipated effective date of July 1, 2018. Some of the Act’s provisions, notably those providing for treble damages and a six-year look back period, could provide more employees with much greater relief for violations than the federal Ledbetter Act or other state equal pay laws. Continue reading “Employers Should Take Notice of New Jersey’s Expected Equal Pay Law”

New Department of Labor Disability Claim Procedure: A Trap for the Unwary

Daniel L. Morgan

On April 1, 2018, a new Department of Labor regulation that modifies the procedures ERISA-governed plans must use to evaluate disability claims took effect.

According to a Department of Labor news release, the modified procedures:

give America’s workers new procedural protections when dealing with plan fiduciaries and insurance providers who deny their claims for disability benefits … and ensures, for example, that disability claimants receive a clear explanation of why their claim was denied as well as their rights to appeal a denial of a benefit claim, and to review and respond to new information developed by the plan during the course of an appeal. The rule also requires that a claims adjudicator could not be hired, promoted, terminated, or compensated based on the likelihood of denying claims.” Continue reading “New Department of Labor Disability Claim Procedure: A Trap for the Unwary”

New York #MeToo Initiatives—It’s No Longer Just an HR Issue

Stephen E. Tisman and Rither Alabre

Propelled by the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the “#MeToo” movement, New York government officials have taken new steps to protect victims of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

  • The New York County District Attorney’s Office has created a special “Work-Related Sexual Violence Team” of prosecutors to investigate reports of work-related sexual violence.
  • The New York Attorney General filed suit, in response to the announcement of the proposed sale of the Weinstein Company, for civil penalties and an order of “restitution” to victims.

These actions make clear that new layers of scrutiny are being imposed to examine how employers handle sexual harassment claims. Importantly, companies and individuals faced with such claims will confront new areas of exposure—outside of traditional human resources procedures and concerns—which must be analyzed and addressed. Continue reading “New York #MeToo Initiatives—It’s No Longer Just an HR Issue”

Additional Protections for Temporary Schedule Changes for Employees under New York City Law

Valerie D. Ringel and Anna Svensson

Recently, the New York City Council passed a bill aiming to protect employees seeking temporary changes to their work schedules in certain circumstances. The bill permits employees to make two temporary schedule changes per calendar year, such as paid time off, working remotely, swapping or shifting work hours and unpaid leave when certain personal circumstances arise, including circumstances that would constitute a basis for permissible use of safe time or sick time. Continue reading “Additional Protections for Temporary Schedule Changes for Employees under New York City Law”

DOL Adopts Employer-Friendly Standard to Assess If Workers Are Interns or Employees

Stephanie Gantman Kaplan

In recent years, employers have used unpaid interns to perform many duties otherwise completed by paid employees. Determining whether to classify a worker as an unpaid intern or employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) can be tricky for employers—and getting it wrong can have, and has had, serious consequences. With the recent boom in class action litigation by interns claiming misclassification, employers have to be careful.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced the adoption of a new standard to determine who is an “intern” under the FLSA, opting to utilize the “primary beneficiary” analysis already used by several federal appellate courts. Continue reading “DOL Adopts Employer-Friendly Standard to Assess If Workers Are Interns or Employees”

Maryland Jumps on Bandwagon—Adopts Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law

Mark Blondman

Joining Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, the Maryland Legislature enacted legislation requiring employers in Maryland to provide paid sick and safe leave to employees by overriding Governor Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (“MD HWFA”). Unless the date for implementation is delayed by the Legislature, the requirements of the Act go into effect on February 12, 2018. Continue reading “Maryland Jumps on Bandwagon—Adopts Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law”

Sessions Isn’t Blowing Smoke—Marijuana Enforcement Is Back on the Books

Asima J. Ahmad

At the beginning of January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a one-page memorandum rescinding the Obama-era approach to marijuana enforcement, which had largely been “hands-off” on prosecuting marijuana users and businesses that sold marijuana in states where the drug was legalized. In its January 4 memo, the Justice Department emphasized that the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana remains prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act and is subject to “significant penalties.” The memo further stated that marijuana is a “dangerous drug” and that marijuana activity is a “serious crime.” The Attorney General concluded that previous nationwide guidance issued under the Obama administration specific to marijuana enforcement was “unnecessary” and “rescinded, effective immediately.” Continue reading “Sessions Isn’t Blowing Smoke—Marijuana Enforcement Is Back on the Books”

Warming Up to OSHA’s New Cold Stress Guide

Anna Svensson

Unless you spent the last month on a Caribbean island, you know that a majority of the country was in a deep freeze in late December and early January. Numerous record lows were set and some states, such as the Dakotas and Minnesota, experienced wind chills significantly below zero.

Although temperatures have returned to average in most parts of the country, winter will be with us for a few more months; and the recent freeze is likely to be repeated. The extreme temperatures serve as an important reminder that employers need to take appropriate measures to protect workers from cold stress before it causes harm. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers have a duty to protect workers from recognized hazards, including cold stress hazards. Continue reading “Warming Up to OSHA’s New Cold Stress Guide”

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