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.
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 March 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a new directive addressing pay equity audits. The new Directive 2022-01 sets forth what OFCCP views as its apparent authority to obtain access to and review federal contractors’ pay equity audits that are conducted in connection with contractors’ compliance mandates.
On March 10, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (which enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and other federal wage and hour laws) announced that one of its top enforcement priorities is to protect workers from retaliation for exercising their rights. The USDOL launched an anti-retaliation page on its web site and published a Field Assistance Bulletin on the subject of retaliation.
On Dec. 22, 2021, New York published its final paid sick leave regulations. These regulations are identical to the proposed regulations, initially published on Dec. 9, 2020. New York Paid Sick Leave (PSL) requires employers to provide paid leave to employees relating to an employee’s or an employee’s family member’s medical needs, or for reasons relating to domestic violence and similar offenses. Since Jan. 1, 2021, employers have been required to provide this leave to all New York employees.
On Dec. 22, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) published long-awaited proposed regulations relating to the second half of the NY HERO Act relating to workplace safety committees.
By way of brief background, on May 5, 2021 the state signed the NY HERO Act into law. The NY HERO Act added two new sections to the New York Labor Law: (1) New York Labor Law Section 218-b, regarding occupational exposure to airborne infectious disease, which created certain obligations for private employers and protections for employees, including the requirement to adopt an “airborne disease exposure prevention plan”; and (2) New York Labor Law Section 27-d, dealing with employee rights to form workplace safety committees. The first part of the NY HERO Act (NYLL 218-b) went into effect on July 4, 2021. The second part of the NY HERO Act (NYLL 27-d) went into effect on Nov. 1, 2021.
On Nov. 1, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law amending the definition of family member for purposes of the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (PFL) to include biological or adopted siblings, half-siblings and step-siblings. This amendment takes effect on Jan. 1, 2023. Currently, family members for purposes of PFL include a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, spouse and domestic partner.
Under the New York State Minimum Wage Act, minimum wage rates in New York increase each year on December 31 until reaching $15.00 per hour. In New York City and for large fast-food companies throughout the state, the minimum wage has already reached its $15.00 maximum.
Everybody knows that the statute of limitations for claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is two years, unless the claim is for a willful FLSA violation, in which case the statute of limitations is three years. Okay, maybe everybody doesn’t know that—but attorneys who regularly bring or defend wage-and-hour claims certainly do (and if you’re reading this blog, you probably do as well). So an FLSA claim filed in 2021 based on allegations from 2017 can be easily dismissed at the outset of litigation, because such a claim is clearly beyond the longest possible statute of limitations of three years. Now, consider this: what if a plaintiff files a claim in May 2021, alleging an FLSA violation from June 2018? In that case, the only way the plaintiff can bring a valid FLSA claim is if the claim is willful, because then the plaintiff could utilize the three-year statute of limitations.
Under the American Rescue Plan (ARP), certain private-sector and governmental employers may claim refundable tax credits which provide reimbursement for the cost of providing Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) style paid sick and family leave to employees, including leave for COVID-19 vaccination related reasons. The ARP does not require employers to provide paid leave; however, it provides tax credits for employers that voluntarily opt to do so. The tax credits are available to eligible employers who provide leave from April 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2021.
In the wake of the social justice movements and a nationwide push towards greater equality, transparency, diversity and accountability, it is expected that pay equity will be a focus for the Biden administration in the coming year. Pay equity issues are gaining the attention of employees and, in turn, becoming of increasing concern for employers.
On Jan. 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its final rule to revise and update its regulations regarding classification of employees vs. independent contractors. This determination of independent contractor status is critical to wage liability, as employees are generally guaranteed minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act—absent some exemption—while independent contractors are not.