On Jan. 20, 2024, The New York City Council amended the City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA), to create a private right of action for employees claiming violations of ESSTA. The new law amends Section 20-924 of the New York City Administrative Code and allows employees to commence a civil action alleging a violation of ESSTA within two years of the date the employee knew or should have known of the alleged violation. The new law becomes effective March 20, 2024.
Currently, the sole redress for employees alleging violations of ESSTA is to submit an administrative complaint to the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP). The new amendment will allow employees to file both an administrative complaint with the DCWP and a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction for the same alleged ESSTA violation. Employees are not required to file an administrative complaint with the DCWP prior to commencing an action in court for alleged ESSTA violations.
If an employee files both a civil suit and a DCWP complaint against the employer for the same alleged ESSTA violation, the DCWP will stay its investigation until it receives notice that the civil suit has been withdrawn or dismissed without prejudice. Once DCWP receives notice of a final judgment or settlement of the civil action, DCWP may dismiss the complaint unless it determines that the complaint alleges a violation that was not resolved by such judgment or settlement. The employee must notify DCWP within 30 days after the time for any appeal has lapsed that such complaint is withdrawn, dismissed without prejudice, or resolved by final judgment or settlement.
Employees who prove a violation of ESSTA may recover:
Three times the wages that should have been paid pursuant to ESSTA or $250, whichever is greater, for every instance where an employee is not compensated properly by the employer for safe and sick time taken.
$500 for every instance where an employee requested safe and sick time that was (a) wrongfully denied by the employer and not taken by the employee; (b) wrongfully conditioned upon a requirement that the employee search or find a replacement worker prior to approval; or (c) wrongfully subjected to a requirement that the employee work additional hours to make up for the original hours for which the employee was scheduled, without the mutual consent of the employer and employee.
Full compensation for wages and benefits lost, plus $500 and equitable relief as deemed appropriate, for every instance of retaliation and interference.
$2,500, full compensation, including wages and benefits lost; and equitable relief, including reinstatement, as deemed appropriate for each instance of unlawful discharge from employment.
$500 for each employee covered by a policy that does not provide or allow for the use of safe and sick time pursuant to ESSTA.
In addition, the amendment permits an employee to seek injunctive relief and declaratory relief, attorney’s fees and costs, and any other relief that the court deems appropriate.
The amendment also expands ESSTA’s civil penalty provisions for entities found to be in violation of provisions regarding the accrual and use of sick or safe time or retaliation, on a per employee basis, of up to $500 to be paid to the city for the first violation. Subsequent violations that occur within two (2) years of any previous violation, entities will be liable of up to $750, not to exceed $1,000 for each succeeding violation.
On Sept. 15, 2023, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection adopted several amendments to the City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA). Notably, some of the key amendments include changes to 1) what constitutes an “employee” under the ESSTA; 2) how to calculate an employer’s size to meet safe/sick time requirements; 3) when it is permissible to request documentation from employees for safe and sick leave; 4) information on requirements for employees to notify their employer for use of leave; 5) calculating an employee’s rate of pay; and 6) updates that should be made to an employer’s ESSTA workplace policy. These amendments take effect on Oct. 15, 2023. A brief summary of some of the notable changes are detailed below.
New York City’s Local Law 144 has received another update from the City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP). As a reminder, the new law prohibits an employer or employment agency from using an automated employment decision tool in making an employment decision unless, prior to using the tool, the following requirements are met: (1) the tool has been subject to a bias audit within the last year; and (2) a summary of the results of the most recent bias audit and distribution data for the tool have been made publicly available on the employer or employment agency’s website. On Sept. 23, 2022, the DCWP proposed new rules to clarify the law. Please see our prior blog post for a more thorough summary of the law. On Dec. 23, 2022, the DCWP released a set of revised proposed rules which resulted in another public hearing on Jan. 23, 2023.
New York City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA or Act) provides covered employees with the right to use safe and sick leave as it accrues for a delineated list of circumstances. On Aug. 11, 2022, the New York City Council introduced a proposal to amend the ESSTA’s definition of “employee.” Under this proposal, certain independent contractors would qualify as employees and receive benefit coverage under the Act. The proposal would require hiring entities to engage in detailed analyses of individuals providing services to determine wither they are independent contractors or employees.
With 2022 nearing its end, many states and counties look to pass new employment laws and regulations at the turn of the year. While this is not intended to be a complete update of New York employment law, this article details a few highlights in this area.
Late last year, the New York City Council passed Local Law 144, which regulates employers and employment agencies’ use of “automated employment decision tools,” (AEDT), in making employment decisions. This new law is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. In summary, the new law prohibits an employer or employment agency from using automated employment decision tools in making employment decisions unless, prior to using the tool, the following requirements are met: (1) the tool has been subject to a bias audit within the last year; and (2) a summary of the results of the most recent bias audit and distribution data for the tool have been made publicly available on the employer or employment agency’s website. Please see our prior blog post for a more thorough summary of the law.
New York City’s new Salary Transparency Law will go into effect on Nov. 1, 2022. With this deadline for compliance fast approaching, we wanted to offer an update on the most recent guidance and interpretation to help our clients prepare for implementation of the new law.
On July 1, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new legislation in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a law whereby applicants for permits to “conceal and carry” firearms had to show “good cause” as to why they should be issued such a permit. The new legislation—the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA)—modifies the requirements for obtaining a concealed carry permit and prohibits the possession of firearms in areas deemed “sensitive” or “restricted.” Restricted areas were defined as private property where the owner or lessee has not given explicit permission for individuals to possess firearms on the property, by posting signage or other means. Thus, under the law, firearms would be prohibited in places of employment except where explicit permission had been given.
On June 23, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued an historic ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen that invalidated a century-old provision of New York’s concealed carry law requiring an applicant to show “proper cause” in order to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home. The Court held that the provision violated the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Employers should consider if they want to allow guns on their premises, and if so, they should post “clear and conspicuous signage” or otherwise provide express consent to visitors or patrons.
Following the Court’s decision, many New Yorkers—particularly those residing in New York City—braced for a possible wave of increased violence. Reports of crime have been on the rise the last few months in various parts of New York City. In April, New York Police Department data showed an 84 percent spike in major crime when compared to 2021 crime rates. NYC business owners are especially frustrated with the increased violence as it places a strain on business during a time when many businesses are still recovering from difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of growing concerns about public safety in New York after the Supreme Court decision, the legislature promptly drafted the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, which was recently signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul. The new law will limit who can obtain a gun carry permit, how to obtain a permit and restrictions on where guns may be carried. It prohibits guns in certain “sensitive places” such as government-owned buildings, educational institutions, health care facilities, places of worship, any place where alcohol is consumed and public transportation. The law establishes additional limitations including new eligibility requirements for those seeking concealed carry permits and a more expansive disqualifying criteria (i.e., an interview with a licensing agency, firearms safety training, storage requirements in vehicles). The Concealed Carry Improvement Act took effect on Sept. 1, 2022.
New York City’s Times Square, famously known as a major commercial, tourist and entertainment destination in Midtown Manhattan, is now a gun-free zone. Declared as a “sensitive location,” the New York City Council proposed boundaries for this gun-free zone to extend from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue and from West 40th Street to West 53rd Street. The area will include “Gun Free Zone” signs at every entry point in the zone. Times Square will certainly not be the only “sensitive area” in New York City with restrictions – as subways, schools and other NYC locations are likely to be designated as gun-free zones as well. Employers in this area are well advised to ensure that employees are aware of this restriction.
As a precautionary measure, business owners throughout the state should strongly consider posting signs that explicitly state whether or not guns are allowed on the property, to make the potential presence of firearms on the premises known to all guests and patrons.
The First Department of the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, in a matter of first impression, interpreted New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act (FIFA) in the context of a motion to dismiss (Chen v. Romona Keveza Collection LLC). The Plaintiffs (a photographer and a model), sought to recover payments for services rendered to the Defendant (a high-end luxury fashion brand), claiming the defendant violated FIFA by improperly withholding payments. The Appellate Division ruled that an individual’s representation by an agency or agent does not necessarily disqualify the worker from FIFA’s freelance worker protections.
On May 12, 2022, Mayor Adams signed into law the NYC Council Amendment to the recently enacted Salary Transparency Law. In addition to postponing the law’s effective date to Nov. 1, 2022, this amendment also clarifies three other aspects of the law:
On Nov. 10, 2021, the New York City Council passed a bill that regulates employers and employment agencies’ use of “automated employment decision tools” in making employment decisions. The bill was returned without Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature and lapsed into law on Dec. 11, 2021. The new law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2023. This new law is part of a growing trend towards examining and regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in hiring, promotional and other employment decisions.