On July 19, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the launch of a statewide hotline for employees who believe they have been sexually harassed in the workplace. This announcement follows several pieces of legislation1 passed in March 2022, in which sexual harassment protections for employees were expanded. As part of the legislation, the New York State Division of Human Rights was directed to establish a toll-free, confidential hotline for complainants of workplace sexual harassment. Employees can call the hotline and receive advice on their legal rights as applied to their specific circumstances from attorneys, who staff the hotline pro bono. As of July 20, 2022, the hotline is operational from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and can be reached at 1-800-HARASS-3 (1-800-427-2773).
Last week, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that New York’s regulation establishing isolation and quarantine procedures related to COVID-19 and other highly communicable diseases is void and unenforceable.
On June 23, 2022, in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the U.S. Supreme Court held that New York’s requirements for obtaining permits for the concealed carry of a firearm were unconstitutional in a decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas. Since 1911, New York has prohibited individuals from possessing a firearm without a license.
On June 3, 2022, the New York State Legislature passed Senate Bill S9427/Assembly Bill A10477 (the Bill)—a new wage transparency law that would amend the New York Labor Law to add new Section 194-b. If enacted, the new law would require covered employers to disclose compensation or a range of compensation to applicants and employees upon issuing an employment opportunity for internal or public viewing, or upon employee request. The Bill is intended to enhance transparency around compensation and reducing any existing wage disparities among employees.
In February 2021, New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, filed a lawsuit against Amazon alleging that the retailer failed to sufficiently prioritize hygiene, sanitation and social distancing at its fulfillment center and delivery station in New York City.1 The Complaint also alleged that Amazon unlawfully terminated employees at those locations who complained about conditions they perceived to be unsafe.2 The Complaint asserted causes of action under various sections of the New York Labor Law (NYLL), including Sections 200, 215 and 740, all of which “relate to the obligations of New York businesses to adequately protect the health and safety of employees and to refrain from discrimination or retaliation against employees who complain about potential NYLL violations.”3
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.
New York entities have one month to prepare required notices to employees for certain types of electronic monitoring. On Nov. 8, 2021, Gov. Hochul signed into law an amendment to the New York Civil Rights Law, that requires any private individual or entity with a place of business in the state to provide notice to employees for certain types of electronic monitoring. The law goes into effect on May 7, 2022, pushing employers to determine the scope of their electronic monitoring activities and begin updating their policies and issuing notices to ensure compliance with the new law’s requirements prior to its effective date.
On March 29, 2022, a federal court in Upstate New York permanently enjoined New York State from requiring employers to include a government-issued “notice” of workers’ rights and remedies in their employee handbooks regarding reproductive health decisions.
On April 1, 2022, New York’s Public Health Law § 2895-b regarding nursing home staffing levels went into effect. The law, initially meant to take effect on Jan. 1, 2022, was suspended by executive order in light of ongoing staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 31, 2022, Gov. Hochul declined to extend the suspension. Nursing homes across New York must now comply with this law.
In June 2020, New York repealed Civil Rights Law § 50-a and amended portions of the State’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), resulting in significant changes to the types of law enforcement records subject to public disclosure.
On March 16, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed three bills into law that effectively amend the New York Human Rights Law (HRL) to increase sexual harassment protections for employees in New York. Please see our prior blog post for a more thorough summary of these new laws.
On March 18, 2022, the NYS Department of Labor updated its NY HERO Act website to confirm that the NYS Commissioner of Health’s designation of COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health” ended on March 17, 2022.