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Salvatore G. Gangemi is a Partner in the Litigation Department of Murtha Cullina and a member of the Labor and Employment Practice Group. He advises clients with respect to state, federal and local employment laws. In addition, he litigates matters involving misappropriation of trade secrets, restrictive covenants, breach of employment contract, fiduciary duty, and other work-related common law claims. Sal also counsels clients on day-to-day issues involving workplace management and administration, including requests for reasonable accommodation for disabilities, for family and medical leave, and wage and hour issues.  He conducts employment law training on a variety of topics, including sexual harassment prevention and wage/ hour compliance.  He also drafts employment policies and agreements, and assists clients in auditing worker classification practices and policies both in the context of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state laws governing independent contractor determinations.

As we previously reported here, the “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act” expanded the reach of the New York City Human Rights Law in the area of gender-based discrimination, including harassment.  Among other things, as of April 1, 2019, the law mandates employers with 15 or more employees (which includes independent contractors) in the previous calendar year to conduct annual anti-sexual harassment training to all employees, including managers and supervisors.  The law requires employers to train new employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year within 90 days of initial hire.
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At long last, the federal Department of Labor has issued its widely anticipated second proposal to raise the minimum salary threshold for employees to qualify for various white collar exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Following a failed attempt by the Obama-era DOL to set a salary threshold of $47,476, the DOL is setting its sights lower this time around with a proposed $35,308 salary threshold.
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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.
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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.
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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:


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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.
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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. 
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As we discussed in a recent post, the New York City Council introduced a series of bills last month aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace; The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act. The City Council enacted the Act on April 11, 2018 and it is waiting final signature from the Mayor.
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