I’ve said before and I’ll say it again.  Zero-tolerance policies are a bad idea when addressing sexual harassment complaints.  In fact, they shouldn’t even apply to complaints about discrimination or workplace infractions.  Although zero-tolerance policies convey the impression that an employer is taking a hard line stand against conduct it wants to discourage or eliminate, the reality is a little more complicated, just like the workplace.
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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released data detailing breakdowns for the charges of workplace discrimination it received in 2018. Sexual harassment charges increased 13.6% from 2017 – making sexual harassment the second most frequent charge filed with the EEOC.  Overall, the agency received 7,609 sexual harassment charges and obtained $56.6 million in monetary benefits for victims of sexual harassment.
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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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A reminder to Connecticut employers: generally speaking, questions about an applicant’s salary history are prohibited as of January 1, 2019. As I detailed in an earlier post, Connecticut has joined the growing number of states restricting what employers may ask applicants about salary history. While salary history inquiries are now generally prohibited, there are

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 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.
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