Christopher Cody Wilcoxson, Anthony A. Mingione, and Mark Blondman
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill 8091 (the “NY Act”) providing coronavirus COVID-19 relief for affected employees. Blank Rome’s Coronavirus Task Force covered the immediate enactment on our Blank Rome Workplace Blog. The NY Act provides sick leave and benefits that are in excess of those provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which President Donald Trump signed into law on the same day. Blank Rome’s Coronavirus Task Force detailed the FFCRA when it was enacted; and provided updated guidance on March 25, 2020.
Employers in New York are required to comply with both the NY Act and the FFCRA and must determine whether any benefits in excess of those provided by FFCRA are required. This update summarizes several of the key differences between the New York and federal benefits.
What Employers Are Covered?
NY ACT: All employers are subject to the NY Act; however, benefits vary based on the size and net income of the employer.
FFCRA: Only businesses with fewer than 500 employees within the United States are subject to the FFCRA. Continue reading “Understanding Paid Sick Leave and Family Leave in New York Following the Enactment of Families First Coronavirus Response Act”
Anthony A. Mingione
On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill providing paid sick leave and job protections for employees in New York who are unable to work due to coronavirus COVID-19. The new law prohibits employers from terminating or penalizing employees who are absent from work while the government is recommending or mandating that people stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The specifics of the leave available to employees will vary depending on the size and net income of the employer, although regardless of employer size, all employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 will be entitled to job protection during their absences.
- Businesses with at least 100 employees must provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave during any mandatory or precautionary order of COVID-19 quarantine or isolation.
- Businesses with between 11 and 99 employees (or with 10 or fewer employees but more than one million dollars in net income) must provide five days of paid sick leave. Once that is exhausted, those employers must provide their workers with access to short-term disability benefits and paid family leave for the period of quarantine/isolation.
- Finally, employers with 10 or fewer employees and less than one million dollars in net income are not obligated to provide paid leave but must give their workers access to short-term disability benefits and paid family leave for the period of quarantine/isolation.
Continue reading “New York Passes COVID-19 Relief for Affected Employees”
Stephen E. Tisman
In a December 17, 2019, Blank Rome Workplace post, we described the law enacted in New York expanding “protected status” to cover employee decision-making regarding reproductive rights matters. (See blankromeworkplace.com/2019/12/17/new-york-expands-discrimination-protection-to-reproductive-health-decision-making/). We concluded with the prediction that:
The law will undoubtedly be challenged by an employer claiming that providing such coverage violates the employer’s religious beliefs (think Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission). The ultimate fate of this statute will be resolved under federal First Amendment law.
That challenge has begun. On January 31, 2020, a lawsuit was filed in federal district court seeking a declaration that the statute is unconstitutional and void, and for an injunction to bar enforcing it against the plaintiffs. Christopher T. Slattery, et al. v. Andrew M. Cuomo, et al., U.S.D.C., N.D.N.Y., Case No. 5:00-at-99999.
Stay tuned for developments.
Alix L. Udelson
New Jersey and New York are the latest states to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their pay history and considering pay information in making employment decisions.
In New Jersey, effective January 1, 2020, private employers cannot screen applicants based on their pay history. Employers also cannot require an applicant’s salary history satisfy a certain minimum or maximum criteria. Employers may not consider an applicant’s refusal to provide compensation information in making an employment decision.
There are several noteworthy exceptions and limitations to this law. Continue reading “Salary History Ban Spreads—New Jersey and New York Jump on Board!”
Stephen E. Tisman
On November 9, Governor Cuomo signed into law an amendment to the New York Labor Law making it illegal to discriminate against employees based upon the reproductive health decisions of employees or their dependents. The law went into effect immediately upon signing.
Specifically, the new law (N.Y. Labor Law § 203-e):
- Prohibits an employer from accessing an employee’s personal information regarding reproductive health decision-making without the “employee’s prior informed affirmative written consent.”
- Prohibits an employer from taking “retaliatory personnel action” against an employee with respect to compensation and terms of employment, because of the employee’s (or dependent’s) decision-making, including decisions regarding use of a drug, device, or medical service.
- Prohibits requiring an employee to waive the right to make particular reproductive healthcare decisions.
- Requires employee handbooks to include notice of employee rights and remedies under the new law.
- Prohibits retaliation against an employee for protesting the violation of rights under the new law, filing an action under or related to the new law, or providing information to a public body.
The new law creates a legal right of action that an employee can pursue in any court of competent jurisdiction for damages, injunctive relief, reinstatement, attorneys’ fees, and liquidated damages equal to the damages awarded, with liquidated damages subject to a defense if the employer proves “a good faith basis to believe that its actions… were in compliance with the law.”
All New York employers must immediately revise employee handbooks to give notice of the law and available enforcement remedies.
The Legislative Supporting Memorandum makes explicit the legislature’s intention to protect employees against employer efforts to deny them the benefit of the provision in the federal Affordable Care Act which requires that health insurance plans cover FDA-approved birth control methods, without out-of-pocket costs. The law will undoubtedly be challenged by an employer claiming that providing such coverage violates the employer’s religious beliefs (think Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission). The ultimate fate of this statute will be resolved under federal First Amendment law.
Mara B. Levin, Anthony A. Mingione, Stephen E. Tisman, and Jacob W.E. Kearney
A new amendment to the New York State Human Rights Law expressly prohibits workplace discrimination based on religious attire, clothing, and facial hair. New York employers should review their current policies and work with counsel to ensure compliance by the October 8, 2019, effective date.
Governor Cuomo recently signed legislation (S.4037/A.4204) that amends the New York State Human Rights Law to expand religious protections for employees and applicants in the workplace. The New York State Human Rights Law already prohibits employers from imposing upon employees and applicants “a condition of obtaining or retaining employment” that would require them “to violate or forego a sincerely held practice of [their] religion.” N.Y. Exec. Law § 296(10)(a). The new law ensures that those same protections now encompass an employee’s or applicant’s religious attire, clothing, and facial hair. Continue reading “New York Expands Workplace Protections for Religious Attire, Clothing, and Facial Hair”
Anthony A. Mingione
New York State has this week enacted sweeping election reforms that go into effect immediately. The changes will impact private employers across the state. Section 3-110 of the New York Election Law now permits all registered voters to request and obtain up to three hours of paid time off, regardless of their schedule, to vote in any public election. Employers will be permitted to designate whether the time off will be taken at the beginning or end of an employee’s shift.
To qualify, employees must be registered to vote and must provide at least two days’ advance notice to their employer of the need for time off to vote. The law is silent on whether the employer can count voting time against other paid time off programs it provides. We anticipate that regulations will be issued relating to this and other elements of the law and we will report on them as they are published.
Employers also must comply with a voting rights posting requirement. Employers are required to post a notice that explains the employees’ right to paid time off for voting. You can see a version of the approved poster on the New York State Board of Elections website here.
The notice must be posted in a conspicuous location in the workplace where it can be seen as employees come or go to their place of work, at least 10 days before a public election, and must remain up until the polls close on election day.
Employers should take note that these rules apply to all public elections; the next such statewide election will be the New York primaries on June 25, 2019.
As we have advised you in previous blog posts, New York State has passed legislation mandating that employers adopt an anti-harassment policy and conduct harassment training for all employees. The law requires that, by October 9, 2018, employers distribute to employees in New York State a written policy that meets certain prescribed legal standards.
Earlier this week, New York State issued a final set of employer guidance materials on sexual harassment prevention, including model training materials and Minimum Standards for Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies, a Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy, and a Model Complaint Form. Employers are permitted to implement the Model Policy or may develop policies on their own as long as they meet minimum legal requirements.
Most importantly, although the New York law had originally required that employers conduct harassment training for all employees by January 1, 2019, the guidance issued this week extends the deadline to October 9, 2019. Please use this additional time effectively!
As discussed in our prior blog post, New York State passed anti-sexual harassment legislation earlier this year, which, in part, requires that New York employers adopt a sexual harassment policy and conduct training. On August 23, 2018, the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released the following draft documents relating to these requirements: Continue reading “Update on the New York State Anti-Harassment Law—Guidance Issued, but It’s Not Final”
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”