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
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.
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 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
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
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
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. Continue Reading UPDATE: New York City Council Enacts Package of Legislation Aimed at Strengthening Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies
A new Massachusetts law significantly enhances existing anti-discrimination protections for pregnant employees. The “Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” effective April 1, 2018, prevents discrimination against, and expressly protects, employees who are pregnant or are experiencing pre- and post-birth pregnancy-related medical needs, including, but not limited to, lactation, expressing breast milk, and recovering from childbirth. Continue Reading Take Note: the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Is Now In Effect!
The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (“MEPA”), which amends the Massachusetts Equal Pay Law, goes into effect July 1, 2018, and applies to all employers regardless of their size, including the state and its municipalities. Massachusetts was the first state in the country to pass an equal pay law and, in fact, preceded the federal Equal Pay Act by 18 years. The 2018 amendments make MEPA one of the strongest pay equity laws in the country, intended to close the reported 84.3.% pay gap for working women in Massachusetts. In advance of this upcoming deadline, Attorney General Maura Healey (“AG”) issued MEPA Guidance on March 1, 2018. Continue Reading Updated Massachusetts Equal Pay Law to Take Effect on July 1, 2018
The #TimesUp and #MeToo movements continue to be a force of national reckoning over sexual assault and harassment. This month, the New York City Council harnessed the energy from those social movements and transformed it into legislative action by introducing a series of bills aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act is a package of eleven bills that would significantly expand the obligations of many employers to prevent sexual harassment. Continue Reading New York City Council Introduces Package of Legislation Aimed at Strengthening Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies