Two New York Bills Passed in June for Equal Pay

Equal Pay Continues to Be a Focus for New York Legislatures The New York legislature passed two laws that offer greater protection against wage discrimination. As employers, it is wise to stay abreast of new employment law amendments so you can ensure your business practices are up-to-date. New Law with Provisions Against Wage Discrimination The bill on wage differentials added provisions to labor law that further protect employees against wage discrimination. The law addressed “equal pay for equal work.” The usual protected classes for equal pay of age, race or gender now also include national origin, gender identity and express, military status, disability along with marital or family status and domestic violence victim status. Criteria Used for Determining Equal Pay According to the new bill, employers must pay workers based on the following criteria: Equal work performance involving equal skill, effort and responsibility Performance being done under similar working conditions Substantially similar work being done The exceptions that are a legitimate basis for pay differences include: Seniority systems Merit systems Systems that measure earnings by quantity or quality of production Bona fide factors (not sex), such as education, training or experience New Law Prohibiting Salary and Work Compensation Questions This bill prohibits employers from doing the following: Relying on wage or salary history to determine whether to employ a job applicant Using wage or salary history to determine the employee’s wages or salary In addition, employers must not ask for wage or salary history (orally or in writing) as a condition for: Interviewing the job applicant Considering whether or not to make a job offer Employing a job candidate...

Details of the NY Anti-Sexual Harassment Law for 2019

The New NY Anti-Sexual Harassment Law: What Employers Should Know Additional New York State anti-sexual harassment law protections came into existence in August 2019. Under the new law, sexual harassment only has to rise above the level of “petty slights or trivial inconveniences,” which is a much lesser burden of proof. This change will make it much easier for victims to come forward and file a lawsuit against employers. By comparison, under the previous law, the plaintiff would have to prove that sexual harassment was “severe or pervasive.” When Does the New Law Go into Effect? The law will roll out in three stages during the next 60 days. Who Does the New Law Affect and How? The new law amends existing Human Rights Law and includes all public and private employers in New York. Also, the law increases the statute of limitations (time limit to file a lawsuit) from one year to three years. How Do the Changes Affect Employment Agreements? Employment agreements can no longer prohibit employees from filing a complaint with a state or local agency, nor can it prevent them from testifying in government investigations. In addition, the law prohibits employers from requiring mandatory arbitration in settlement agreements. Arguments against the law and that are in favor of employers are that this is unfair because it weakens employers’ affirmative defense. They would incur significant liability for behavior that occurs outside of work hours that they have no way of knowing about. How Are All Individuals in the Workplace Protected? The new law extends protection beyond private company or government employees and offers protection to the...

Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD) Lawsuits

What is FRD or Caregiver Discrimination? Families Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD), also called “caregiver discrimination,” refers to discrimination against: Pregnant women Breastfeeding women Parents of young children Employees caring for aging parents Employees caring for ill spouses or sick children or other dependents That employers have been subject to discrimination claims and lawsuits is nothing new. However, FRD or caregiver discrimination is a relatively new protected class compared with other protected classes. Therefore, NY employers should be aware of what it entails. New York City Human Rights Law and Family Responsibilities Discrimination (FRD) Effective as of May 4, 2016, it became a violation in New York City to treat employees or job applicants with caregiving responsibilities differently than other employees. The New York City Commission on Human Rights protects caregivers. If your company has four or more employers, you must comply with the New York City Human Rights Law. Specifically, employers cannot discriminate against employees or job applicants who: Are parents with a child under 18 (includes adopted or foster care children) when they provide direct and ongoing care for the child Provide direct and ongoing care to a parent, sibling, spouse, child, grandparent or grandchild with a disability or care to a disabled person who lives with them and relies on them for medical care and daily living needs. Examples of FRD Discrimination You could be sued for caregiver discrimination, if you as an employer decide not to hire an applicant or promote an employee for any of the following reasons. If the person: Is a single parent Has children at home Has a sick spouse Has adopted children...

Making Work Accommodations for Pregnant Women

Is Your Employment Contract Up-to-date with Current Laws? Making work accommodations for a pregnant woman is something not all employers are aware of doing. In fact, a recent article entitled “More Parents than Ever Are Suing Their Employers for Discrimination–and Winning” gave an example of a municipality that was the subject of an EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) claim for this reason. In 2017, a pregnant policewoman working for the Cromwell, Connecticut police force went to her police chief asking for accommodations due to her pregnancy. She was five months pregnant and provided information including a doctor’s note and a list of work she could do at a desk job. Her union representative accompanied her when she made the request. The chief’s response was that there would be no accommodation because it was not in the contract. The policewoman missed four months of work, filed a complaint through the EEOC and Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. A settlement was reached that reimbursed her wages and paid-time-off benefits lost during pregnancy. As part of the settlement, the police force also agreed to incorporate policies that would protect future pregnant employees. Be Aware of NY State Guidelines and Work Accommodations for Pregnant Women New York Human Rights Law specifically requires that employers must reasonably accommodate the medical needs of employees with disabilities, including temporary disabilities. Pregnancy related disabilities fall under the category of temporary disabilities. In addition, any restrictions that a medical doctor advises for a pregnant woman triggers the employer’s obligation to accommodate the woman based on the NY Human Rights Law. Accommodations would include: Worksite accessibility Acquisition...

What Employers Should Know About Time Off to Vote

The NY State Legislature Passed an Election Law Time off to vote for employees was part of the legislation that the NY State Legislature passed in April of 2019. The name of the law is the New York State Election Law and it went into effect immediately. What Does the Time Off to Vote Mean for Employers? Based on the new law, employers must allow their employees who are registered voters up to three hours of time off to vote. The employee will lose no pay for the three hours and this applies to voting at any election. Guidelines for the Time Off The employer must allow the time off only at the beginning or end of the employee’s work shift. The employer either designates the time or the employee and employer can mutually agree on the time. The employee must notify the employer about taking time off to vote two working days before the Election Day. Posting a Notice of the NY State Election Law Employers must post in the workplace a notice that states the provisions of the NY State Election law. They must post it conspicuously no less than 10 working days before every election. In addition, they must keep the notice posted until the election polls close that day. What Might Have Prompted the New Law? According to an article in The New York Times, the mid term elections in 2018 in New York favored incumbents. New York was the only state in the country that held separate state and federal primary elections. Two separate voting days made it more difficult for voters to turn...