On December 11, 2018, the New York Court of Appeals issued a decision (over two dissenting opinions) addressing public access to police personnel and disciplinary records. The Court held that certain personnel records sought by the New York City Civil Liberties Union (“NYCLU”) pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) are exempt from disclosure under New York Civil Rights Law § 50-a and New York Public Officers Law § 87(2)(a). In doing so, the Court affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division, First Department, and the broad applicability of Civil Rights Law § 50-a to requests for police personnel/disciplinary records.
On March 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor issued proposed regulations that would increase the minimum weekly salary to qualify for the Fair Labor Standards Act white collar exemptions from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $679 per week ($35,308 per year). These new proposed regulations are intended to replace the USDOL's 2016 regulations raising the minimum weekly salary to $913 per week ($47,476 per year), which were held by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to be invalid approximately one week before those regulations were set to take effect.
For those of you old enough to remember (and young enough to search YouTube), when Saturday Night Live was in its early heyday, one of its most popular skits was “Point/Counterpoint” starring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin. During this satire on news commentary, Mr. Aykroyd would start his “counterpoint” with “Jane, you ignorant slut,” a phrase that drew laughs in the 70s, but may not be so well received -- even in jest -- today. And, as we will see from a recent court decision discussed below, when sophomoric name-calling leads to the actual spread of rumors in the workplace, liability for sexual harassment can attach.
The New York State Department of Labor announced recently that it does not intend to implement its proposed regulations that would have imposed burdensome requirements on employers to provide call-in pay to employees under a variety of circumstances not currently covered under existing regulations. The regulations were initially proposed in November 2017, and then were revised in December 2018 after public comments were received and reviewed. The NYSDOL now intends to let the regulatory process expire with respect to the proposed regulations and potentially revisit this issue in the future.
On February 5, 2019, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that students at a for-profit cosmetology school who provided cosmetology services to the general public at the school's salon as part of the requirements to qualify for taking the New York cosmetology licensing exam were not employees who were entitled to compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act or the New York Labor Law. In Velarde v. GW GJ, Inc., the Court applied the "primary beneficiary" test established in its previous decision in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, and concluded that the students were the primary beneficiaries of the relationship because the practical experience they gained at the salon was a necessary prerequisite to becoming licensed cosmetologists.
Employers who provide sick leave and vacation leave time may also have a policy or practice of allowing employees to “sell back” accrued, unused time. Under these “buy-back” programs, the employer will, for a select time period, pay employees for their unused time, in addition to any actual work performed by the employee in that workweek. This then raises the question: do these payments for sick and vacation time have to be counted as part of the employee’s “regular rate” for purposes of computing overtime due during the workweeks in which that time is paid out to the employee?
On January 25, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision clarifying the test for determining whether workers are independent contractors or employees. In SuperShuttle DFW, Inc., the Board reversed its 2014 decision in FedEx Home Delivery where it revised the traditional common-law test for determining whether workers are employees or independent contractors. Prior to 2014, the test analyzed whether common-law factors set forth by the Supreme Court showed that the workers had significant entrepreneurial opportunity for gain or loss.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Friday in a press release that the opening of the EEO-1 Survey for 2018 has been postponed until March 2019 and the deadline for submitting EEO-1 data will be extended until May 31, 2019.
The EEO-1 report must be filed by: (1) private employers with 100 or more employees, excluding state and local governments, primary and secondary school systems, institutions of higher education, Indian tribes, and tax-exempt private membership clubs other than labor organizations; and (2) federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract, subcontract, or purchase order amounting to $50,000 or more.
Filers should check the EEOC web page pertaining to the EEO-1 Survey in the coming weeks for details, instructions, and schedule updates.
The USA: Regional Employment Guide provides in-depth legal commentary on key issues and major trends in 2019 for those global entities seeking to establish or enhance their presence in the United States. Published by Chambers and Partners, the firm regarded by many as the pre-eminent global authority on the legal profession, the Guide covers the important developments in the most significant U.S. jurisdictions.
Michael Bernstein, a senior attorney in Bond's New York City office, was the Contributing Editor and author of the Introduction in this valuable resource. The team of Bond attorneys who authored the New York Employment Law analysis in the Chambers’ Guide, included: Louis P. DiLorenzo, Thomas G. Eron, Howard M. Miller, Thaddeus J. Lewkowicz, Joanna L. Silver, Dennis A. Lalli, and Michael D. Billok.
On January 11, 2019, in Alstate Maintenance, LLC, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision that draws a clear distinction between employee conduct that constitutes protected "concerted activities" under the National Labor Relations Act and employee conduct that constitutes unprotected individual action.
Under Section 7 of the NLRA, employees have a right to engage in "concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection." Over the years, as the Board majority in Alstate Maintenance pointed out, the Board has issued decisions that "blurred the distinction" between protected group action and unprotected individual action. The Board majority characterized its Alstate Maintenance decision as the beginning of the process of restoring that distinction "by overruling conflicting precedent that erroneously shields individual action and thereby undermines congressional intent to limit the protection afforded under the Act to concerted activity for the purpose of mutual aid or protection."
Bond, Schoeneck & King is pleased to announce that Gregory B. Reilly, Aisling M. McAllister, and Samuel G. Dobre have joined the firm, giving Bond 21 labor and employment attorneys in New York City. Both Reilly and McAllister are prominent, management side labor and employment lawyers, both former partners of Martin Clearwater & Bell, where Reilly led the Labor and Employment practice which also included Dobre as an associate at that firm. Prior to working at Martin Clearwater & Bell, Reilly was also a partner at Littler Mendelson.
On January 15, 2019, the New York legislature passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (“GENDA”). GENDA, which faced more than a decade of impasse in the State Senate, was signed by Governor Cuomo on January 25, 2019.