Employers are well aware of the risks a disgruntled employee may pose during their employment and even after their employment has ended. Sometimes, however, employers do not discover an employee’s unscrupulous behavior until after an employee has sued their employer for violation of one or more employee protection statutes, i.e., the New York Labor Law (NYLL), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). These statutes, however, also contain prohibitions against retaliation, leading many employers to question whether they could or should countersue an employee for tortious conduct and potentially risk a claim for retaliation. The Second Circuit in Kim v. Lee, 2023 WL 2317248, 22-61 (2d Cir. March 2, 2023), shed some light on this topic and held that an employer’s counterclaim is retaliatory when it is baseless or frivolous. The Court did not, however, decide whether non-frivolous counterclaims might support a valid retaliation claim.
On March 3, 2023, a bill amending the New York State pay transparency law was signed into law by Gov. Hochul, reflecting changes that the governor requested in exchange for her approval of the law in December 2022. The effective date of the amendments are the same as the original version of law, Sept. 17, 2023.
On Feb. 21, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) issued its decision in McLaren Macomb, 372 NLRB No. 58 (2023), where it held that severance agreements withbroad confidentiality and/or nondisparagement provisions impermissibly chill and restrain employees’ exercise of rights protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The decision applies in both union and non-union workplaces. The decision is significant in that it overruled prior Board precedent and signals the Board’s unwillingness to enforce or otherwise accept severance agreements, or key provisions of those agreements, that bind signatory employees’ confidentiality and nondisparagement obligations that the Board considers to be too broad. The Board’s decision would not apply to supervisors, managers, or individuals not otherwise subject to Section 7 of the NLRA.
As covered in our previous blog post, in January 2023, Onondaga County Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Gerard J. Neri, struck down a regulation adopted by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) – 10 N.Y.C.R.R. § 2.61 (the Regulation) – requiring covered healthcare entities to ensure that their “personnel” are “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19. The NYSDOH, the Commissioner of Health, Governor Hochul (collectively, Respondents) filed a Notice of Appeal, indicating their intention to appeal Judge Neri’s decision in its entirety. Shortly thereafter, on Jan. 27, 2023, Respondents moved for a stay of enforcement of Judge Neri’s Order during the pendency of their appeal.
On Feb. 22, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided Hewitt v. Helix Energy Sols. Grp., Inc. In granting certiorari, the Court addressed the following question: Is a supervisor, who makes over $200,000 annually, calculated on a daily rate, considered a “Highly Compensated Employee” (HCE) who is overtime exempt under the FLSA? In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that the supervisor is not an HCE and is not overtime exempt.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent a shockwave through the corporate world on Jan. 5, 2023, when it released a proposed regulation banning non-compete clauses in all but extremely limited circumstances. The proposed regulation was subsequently published for comment in the Federal Register on Jan. 9, 2023 and is open for comment until March 20, 2023.
On Jan. 13, 2023, Onondaga County Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Gerard J. Neri, struck down a regulation adopted by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) – 10 N.Y.C.R.R. § 2.61 (the Regulation) – requiring covered healthcare entities to ensure that their “personnel” are “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19. Judge Neri invalidated the Regulation on several grounds, holding that the NYSDOH exceeded its authority in implementing the Regulation and that the Regulation lacked a rational basis given the NYSDOH’s acknowledgement that the mandate does not prevent transmission.
On Dec. 21, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Warehouse Worker Protection Act (WWPA), S.8922/A 10020, into law. This new legislation aims to protect warehouse distribution workers from undisclosed or unlawful work speed quotas and includes protections for workers who fail to meet these quotas. The law takes effect 60 days after its signing, i.e., Feb. 19, 2023.
On Jan. 12, 2023, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), in consultation with the New York State Division of Human Rights, released a revised sexual harassment prevention model policy for public review and comment. The agencies collected public input regarding the policy revision in late 2022, and DOL is providing a 30-day comment period for feedback prior to the revision being finalized. The comment period will run through Feb. 11, 2023.
With the onset of the COVID-19 XBB.1.5 variant, more employees are in need of time off from work this winter to recover from unfortunate illness. Below is a quick update for employers on the current state of COVID-19 paid leave laws available to employees:
In August 2021, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) implemented an emergency regulation – 10 N.Y.C.R.R. § 2.61 (the Regulation) – requiring covered healthcare entities to ensure that their “personnel” are “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19. The NYSDOH Commissioner permanently adopted the regulation in June 2022. Commonly referred to as a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, the Regulation has been the subject of several legal challenges in both state and federal courts.
On Dec. 30, 2022, Gov. Hochul signed a bill (A.286/S.1997) that amends New York Labor Law § 167. Originally enacted in 2009, Section 167 restricts “healthcare employers” from requiring nurses to work beyond their regularly scheduled hours, with four limited exceptions, where the overtime is during or due to: