From coast to coast, as the calendar turned to 2016, a host of new employment laws became effective. States and local government are imposing broad obligations on employers well above what federal law requires. This patchwork of legal requirements will continue to bedevil employers. As you begin implementing your resolutions for 2016, here’s our take on the major changes that went into effect across the nation last week:
On June 29, 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law the Fair Chance Act (the “Act”), which prohibits employers from inquiring into the criminal backgrounds of certain job applicants in the initial stages of the employment application process. You can read more about the Act here. The New York City Commission on Human Rights (the “Commission”), the agency charged with enforcement of the Act, recently issued “Legal Enforcement Guidance” (the “Guidance”) regarding the Act. As summarized below, the Guidance provides clarity regarding various aspects of the Act, including definitions of key terms, per se violations and exemptions from the Act.
On October 21, 2015, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a group of eight bills, referred to as the Women’s Equality Agenda, which expand protections for women in the workplace and elsewhere in New York State. The changes that will affect New York employers include an expansion of the existing State equal pay law, the addition of familial status as a protected category and the express requirement that employers reasonably accommodate pregnancy-related conditions.
On June 10, 2015, the New York City Council passed the Fair Chance Act (the “Act”), which prohibits employers from inquiring into the criminal backgrounds of applicants in the initial stages of the employment application process. With the passage of the Act, which is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City joins a large group of other states and municipalities in passing so-called “ban the box” legislation, which refers to laws that prohibit or restrict employers from asking about or relying upon criminal convictions and arrests or requiring employees to disclose their criminal history through a check box on an employment application. The ban the box legislation stems from the use of criminal history as an employment screening tool and from concerns that criminal history is often not a reliable indicator of job performance, and moreover, may adversely affect minority groups.
Last Tuesday, a Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted partial class certification in a case where plaintiffs allege that the United States Census Bureau used arrest records to screen out job applicants, thereby transferring disparities in arrest and conviction rates for African-Americans and Latinos into the agency’s hiring practices and setting up hurdles to employment that disproportionately affected these groups in violation of Title VII. Read More
New York City has amended its Administrative Code to create a new protected class of workers. Beginning in June 2013, the New York City Administrative Code will prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s unemployment status. Read More
On September 7, 2012, Governor Cuomo signed a law that will relax some of the stringent prohibitions against wage deductions under New York Law. Beginning on November 6, 2012, the law will now permit employers, with voluntary employee consent, to take wage deductions for certain employee benefits such as health club membership dues and cafeteria purchases. (See Amendment to New York’s Labor Law Expands the Universe of Permissible Wage Deductions) Significantly, Section 193 of the New York Labor Law will now allow employers to take wage deductions to recoup overpayments of wages due to mathematical or clerical errors. However, the New York Department of Labor is expected to issue regulations on how these overpayments will be allowed to be deducted. The amendment also imposes heightened requirements on the type of notice and authorizations that employers must obtain from their employees before taking any of the newly authorized deductions, and employers will be expected to keep those authorizations for their employees’ entire career and for six years after the end of employment. Even with these hurdles, employers will welcome this reprieve from New York’s restrictive wage deduction laws. Click here to read the full alert.
As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s opinion on the constitutionality of its individual health insurance mandate, some lesser-known provisions of the “Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act” (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) have received short shrift. For instance, the Affordable Care Act also amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and requires employers to provide nursing employees with “a reasonable amount of break time to express milk as frequently as needed” for up to one year after a child’s birth. The law also requires all employers subject to FLSA to provide employees with a private place to express milk that is not a bathroom.
While at first blush, this law sounds rather broad, it contains several limitations: Read More