On October 17, 2018, the New York City Council passed several bills, referred to as a parental empowerment package, which will likely be signed by the mayor. These bills require employers with 15 or more employees to provide a “lactation space” and “lactation accommodation” for employees who need to express and store breast milk. Specifically, employers will be required to designate a private sanitary place that is not a restroom for purposes of expressing milk. Although since 2008 New York State law has required employers to allow nursing mothers with breaks to express milk, New York City will require a dedicated room for this purpose. In addition to providing a lactation space, which must be in reasonable proximity to the employee’s work area, the law will also require that employers provide a refrigerator that is suitable for breast milk storage. Continue Reading NYC Council Votes to Require Lactation Room and Accommodation Policy
On October 1, 2018, New York State released final documents and resources in connection with its new sexual harassment prevention requirements. Along with the updated guidelines, the deadline to provide a first round of sexual harassment prevention training has been extended from January 1, 2019 to October 9, 2019. Continue Reading New York State Revises and Finalizes its Sexual Harassment Policies and Training Requirements After Receiving Comments from Employers
Last August, we blogged about a case of first impression in Connecticut where a federal court judge found that Connecticut’s Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (“PUMA”) creates a private cause of action for employment discrimination and that PUMA’s anti-discrimination provision is not preempted by federal law. See Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co. LLC, 273 F. Supp. 3d 326, 340 (D. Conn. 2017). On September 5, the court issued another decision in this case, offering further insight into this evolving area of employment litigation. Continue Reading Court Provides Additional Clarification Concerning the Scope of Connecticut’s Medical Marijuana Protections in the Workplace
Last week, we addressed the looming sexual harassment notice and training requirements affecting all New York State and New York City employers. We also wrote about the pending issuance of public resources containing model policies and other materials that would comply with the New York State mandates. The day after we posted our blog, New York State published a website – Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, which provides resources to employers and employees on sexual harassment. Among other things, the new site contains:
- A model Statewide Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy, which employers are free to adopt;
- Minimum Standards For Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies for employers that intend to draft their own comprehensive sexual harassment policies;
- A model Complaint Form for Reporting Sexual Harassment;
- A model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training guide; and
- Minimum Standards for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, for employers that wish to develop their own training.
Both New York State and New York City have passed legislation intended to curtail sexual harassment, while at the same time, expanding accountability for such. These laws impact large and small businesses that operate in the State and/or City. Continue Reading Impending Sexual Harassment Notice and Training Requirements to Affect New York State and New York City Employers
Just as the 2018 legislative session came to a close on the night of July 31, 2018, the Legislature passed a bill reforming the law of noncompetition agreements (“noncompetes”) in Massachusetts. The bill is being viewed as a compromise following years of unsuccessful efforts to pass noncompete reform. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days. Continue Reading After Years of Debate, Massachusetts Finally Passes Non-Compete Bill
On June 28, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill titled “An Act Relative to Minimum Wage, Paid Family Medical Leave, and the Sales Tax Holiday” (H.4640). The new law, dubbed the “Grand Bargain,” implements incremental increases in Massachusetts’ minimum wage over the next five years, and creates a new paid family and medical leave program in the Commonwealth. A full text of the bill can be found here.
Minimum Wage Increase
The law increases the minimum wage from $11.00 to $15.00 over the course of five years. In 2019, the minimum wage will increase from $11.00 to $12.00. Thereafter, it will continue to increase each year in $0.75 increments until it reaches $15 in 2023. The Grand Bargain also results in a five-year phase out of the requirement of premium pay for hours worked on Sunday.
Tipped employees will also receive a boost from the current $3.75/hour tipped minimum wage, which will increase by $0.60 increments each year until 2023 when the tipped minimum wage will be $6.75/hour.
Paid Family and Medical Leave Program
Reflecting a nationwide trend, the law establishes a Paid Family and Medical Leave program to take effect on January 1, 2021. The program will entitle eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave, with a maximum of 26 combined weeks of paid leave in the same year.
Individuals eligible for leave include employees, self-employed individuals, and certain former employees. The program will be funded by employers and employees through a payroll tax. Continue Reading Massachusetts Raises Minimum Wage and Passes Paid Family and Medical Leave Law
The end of the recent U.S. Supreme Court term brought with it the most consequential labor law ruling in recent memory. On Wednesday, June 27, 2018, the Court held that public sector employees who are represented by a union, but are non-members of the union, cannot be compelled to pay money to cover the union’s cost of representing the non-member. In a major victory for opponents of organized labor, the Court overruled long-standing precedent allowing public sector unions to compel so-called “agency” or “fair share” fees from non-consenting members. Continue Reading Supreme Court Deals Blow to Public Sector Unions by Barring Compelled Union Agency Fees
On Tuesday, Governor Malloy signed into law a bill amending Connecticut’s Act Concerning Pay Equity so that, with limited exceptions, Connecticut employers will no longer be allowed to inquire about an applicant’s wage and salary history. Following the trend set by states that have enacted pay equity measures, including Massachusetts, Connecticut’s pay equity law imposes a number of restrictions on employers.
Beginning January 1, 2019, Connecticut employers with one or more employees (practically speaking, all Connecticut employers) will be prohibited from inquiring, either directly or through a third party, about a prospective employee’s wage and salary history. The prospective employee may voluntarily disclose its wage or salary history, however. Continue Reading Connecticut Employers Cannot Inquire About an Applicant’s Compensation History Beginning January 1, 2019
On Monday, in a 5-4 majority decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, No. 16-285, the U.S. Supreme Court found class action waivers in arbitration agreements to be valid and enforceable, settling a long-standing split among federal courts of appeals.
By way of background, the Supreme Court years ago allowed employers to use arbitration clauses as a way to resolve employment disputes outside of court by requiring employees to agree to arbitration as a condition of employment. In recent years, employers have included class action waivers in such arbitration agreements. These waivers prevent employees from joining a class or collective action lawsuit/arbitration against their employer. Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Approves Use of Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements