What #MeToo Means for the Maritime Sector

Susan L. Bickley, Emery Gullickson Richards, and Jeanne M. Grasso

The #MeToo movement has shone new light on issues for employers in the maritime industry seeking to ensure that seafarers and shore-based personnel can participate in a work environment free of sexual harassment and assault, both shipboard and shoreside. Employees at sea, often for months at a time, can face special challenges associated with a work environment that can be thousands of miles away from any home office, and that can lead to feelings of isolation, make communications difficult, involve close proximity between work spaces and living quarters and generally require employees to remain at the workplace during rest periods.

In other sectors of the global maritime industry, companies engaged in international business can find themselves navigating scenarios that arise from expectations regarding workplace interactions between men and women that are as diverse as their workforces. We examine here the unique legal framework that applies to sexual harassment in the maritime context, what to keep in mind for addressing incidents and recent trends regarding steps employers are currently taking in response. Continue reading “What #MeToo Means for the Maritime Sector”

New York Says “#MeToo” as It Enacts Strict Anti-Harassment Measures

Anna Svensson

On April 12, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a budget bill that includes significant changes in the obligations of New York employers related to sexual harassment (the “Anti-Harassment Law”). According to the Governor, the Anti-Harassment Law provides the “strongest and most comprehensive anti-sexual harassment protections in the nation,” as part of a hefty $168 billion budget deal for the 2019 fiscal year (which started April 1, 2018). The Anti-Harassment Law is consistent with a recent push by states and localities to expand employee protections against unlawful harassment in response to the #MeToo movement.

The Anti-Harassment Law includes both immediate and ongoing implications. Here are some of the highlights: Continue reading “New York Says “#MeToo” as It Enacts Strict Anti-Harassment Measures”

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”

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”

Employers Score Major Win as Predicted Changes at National Labor Relations Board Start to Come True

NLRB Reverses Landmark Browning-Ferris Decision and Loosens Test for Joint Employer Status

Scott F. Cooper

On Thursday, December 14, 2017, employers scored a significant victory at the National Labor Relations Board. The Board, in a straight 3-2 partisan vote, reversed its 2015 decision in Browning-Ferris Industries and eliminated the rule that employers and their contractors or franchisees can be deemed a “joint employer” even when one company does not exert direct control over the second entity’s workers.

In Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors Ltd. and Brandt Construction Co., NLRB Chair Philip Miscimarra, joined by the two newest NLRB board members, William Emanuel and Marvin Kaplan, significantly reduced the scope of joint employer status in reversing BFI. The issue over the scope of joint employer status at the Board has been simmering for some time, as NLRB Chair Miscimarra wrote a dissenting opinion in the 2015 BFI decision, which was issued under the Obama administration when Democrat members held the Board majority. Continue reading “Employers Score Major Win as Predicted Changes at National Labor Relations Board Start to Come True”

Just in Time for the Holidays

Anthony A. Mingione

New York State is considering new regulations that will restrict the ability of service industry employers to utilize “on-call” or “just in time” scheduling practices for shift workers. These scheduling practices are common in many industries and generally allow employers to schedule, cancel, or cut workers’ shifts with little or no advance notice.

Employees testifying before the State Department of Labor said that these practices often leave workers unable to manage child care schedules and personal engagements, and prevent them from taking second jobs. Business representatives argued they require flexibility and that employers need to have these scheduling practices available to adapt to unpredictable circumstances, such as employees not attending work, unexpected customer demands, or inclement weather. Continue reading “Just in Time for the Holidays”

Trick or Treat? New York City Salary History Ban Becomes Effective October 31

Anthony A. Mingione

Earlier this year, New York City amended its Human Rights Law to make it unlawful for an employer to ask about or rely on a prospective employee’s prior salary history in making hiring decisions. The amendment bans both direct inquiries from applicants and attempts at learning applicants’ previous salaries from indirect sources, such as independent research or third party conversations.

The legislation becomes effective on October 31, 2017, so New York City employers should take advantage of the remaining time before the effective date to conform their hiring practices to the new restrictions. Continue reading “Trick or Treat? New York City Salary History Ban Becomes Effective October 31”