New York State Sexual Harassment Guidance Finalized

UPDATE – On Oct. 1, 2018, the state of New York released final guidance on the anti-sexual harassment measures that were passed in the 2018-2019 New York state budget. Perhaps the most important (and welcomed) change in the guidance is that employers now have until Oct. 9, 2019, to provide employees with the mandated training.

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New York Attorney General’s Office Reaches Another Settlement Over Non-Competes

Last week, the Office of the New York Attorney General (NYAG’s Office) reached a settlement with WeWork, a New York City-based company that provides shared “co-work” spaces nationwide and internationally – and, notably, is one of the largest office tenants in New York City – regarding its use of non-compete restrictions with its employees. Recently, the NYAG’s Office has investigated and reached settlements with several other employers on the subject of non-competes, including a sandwich chain, a legal news website and a national medical information services company.

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In the Recent Flurry of New Laws, Don’t Forget Salary History Bans

As the year winds down and many employers scramble to ensure that they are on top of the many new laws that have been passed/enacted in the past year, we want to bring to your attention a few more related to salary history. Perhaps with all the attention on the flurry of anti-sexual harassment bills that passed in the wake of #MeToo, you may have missed that several states have now passed laws related to inquiring about an applicant’s salary history.

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New York State Issues Guidance for Compliance with New Sexual Harassment Law

Earlier this year, Gov. Cuomo signed into law the 2018-2019 New York State Budget, which included new requirements for both private and government employers intended to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

As reported in our previous post, the new law mandates that starting October 9, 2018, all New York employers must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy and provide sexual harassment prevention training to employees. Both the policy and training must meet or exceed minimum standards set by the New York State Department of Labor together with the New York State Division of Human of Rights (collectively hereinafter, “New York state” or “the state”). Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all current employees by January 1, 2019. Additionally, employers who are state contractors must submit an affirmation to New York state confirming that they have distributed the requisite sexual harassment prevention policy and provided the necessary training.

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Lessons Learned From the EEOC’s First Parental Leave Lawsuit

In the U.S., many employers’ parental-leave programs prioritize birth mothers and offer limited benefits to fathers, adoptive parents, foster parents and LGBT parents. In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued Enforcement Guidance for Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, which includes parental leave policies. However, not all employers have followed this guidance. Consequently, just last year, the EEOC commenced a landmark lawsuit targeting a parental leave policy that purportedly gave greater benefits to new mothers than to new fathers.

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Changing the Competition – Massachusetts Enacts Comprehensive Non-compete Reform

After nearly a decade of debate, Massachusetts has passed comprehensive legislation limiting the use of noncompetition agreements. Last Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker officially signed “An Act Relative to the Enforcement of Noncompetition Agreements” (the Act) into law after the bill passed the Massachusetts Legislature last week.

The Act, which goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2018, comes after years of discussion surrounding the effects of non-compete agreements on employee mobility and competition in the Massachusetts labor market. Many advocates calling for non-compete reform often point to California, where non-compete agreements are not enforceable, to support the position that eliminating these restrictions will bring the Bay State closer to competing with Silicon Valley. Despite the failure of previous attempts to pass similar legislation, the Massachusetts Legislature finally drafted a compromise bill that satisfied both sides of the aisle.

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Massachusetts Enacts Comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave and Sets Sights on $15 Minimum Wage

On June 28, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a comprehensive bill requiring employers in the state to provide workers with paid family and medical leave. The bill, titled “An Act Relative to Minimum Wage, Paid Family Medical Leave and the Sales Tax Holiday,” also sets a schedule to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2023 and phase out time-and-a-half pay on Sundays and holidays.

The enactment of the bill, which will take effect on July 1, 2019, gives Massachusetts one of the most generous paid family and medical leave programs in the country, rivaling legislation passed in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington and Washington, D.C. The bill establishes a Department of Family and Medical Leave within Massachusetts’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, which will be responsible for administering the paid leave program.

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Have Your FMLA Forms Expired?

As many of you know by now, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) maintains model forms to help employers meet the notice requirements under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). What some of you may not know is that the forms you are using may have expired!

Every three years, the DOL is required to submit its model FMLA forms to the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval for continued use. The DOL’s model FMLA forms expired on May 31, 2018. This expiration date was extended by one month, until June 30, 2018, which was again extended until July 31, 2018. The expiration date, which is seen in the upper right corner of the DOL’s model FMLA forms, relates to the approval process, not necessarily the forms’ actual content.

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Groundbreaking Austin Paid Sick Leave Ordinance to Take Effect This Fall

In February 2018, the City of Austin, Texas became the first major southern city in the United States to enact a private sector paid sick and safe leave ordinance. The ordinance, which takes effect on Oct. 1, 2018, for employers with five or more employees and Oct. 1, 2020, for smaller employers, provides that employees who work at least 80 hours in Austin in a calendar year will accrue paid leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked in the city, up to 64 hours annually (or up to 48 hours annually for businesses with 15 or fewer employees). For employees covered by collective bargaining agreements, the accrual cap may be modified — so long as the modification is expressly stated in the agreement. The ordinance is designed to set forth minimum requirements for leave accrual and use. Accordingly, it expressly permits employers to continue or adopt practices that provide the same or greater leave benefits to employees.

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Reminder: Beginning July 18, NYC Employers Are Required to Accommodate “Personal Events”

Most New York City employers are probably familiar with the Fair Workweek Law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2018, but surely not all New York City employers are. That is likely because until now, that law applied only to fast-food restaurants and retail employers. But all that will change come July 18, 2018, when an amendment to the Fair Workweek Law, which added – with little to no fanfare – a Subchapter 6 to the tail end of the legislation, will come into effect. That subchapter creates obligations under the law for all New York City employers, with few exceptions, but the obligations are limited to accommodations for “personal events.”

Specifically, effective July 18, 2018, New York City employers will be required to grant employees two temporary changes to their work schedule when those requests relate to (1) the need for a caregiver to provide care to a minor child or a care recipient; (2) an employee’s need to attend a legal proceeding or hearing for subsistence benefits to which the employee, a family member or the employee’s care recipient is a party; or (3) any reason that is permitted under the New York Earned Sick and Safe Time Act (ESTA). These three reasons are referred to as a “personal event.” Continue Reading