Marijuana Legalization in New York

Governor Cuomo Is Supporting the Legalization of Marijuana Marijuana legalization for recreational use appears to be on the verge of becoming law in New York State. Medical marijuana has been legal since 2014, but what would legalization for recreational use mean for New York businesses? If the legislature passes the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act, Governor Cuomo believes it could generate $300 million in revenue a year for New York. According to the Gothamist, the governor also sees marijuana legalization as an opportunity to create greater income for poor communities and individuals who have “paid the price” for marijuana prohibition. The legislature is expected to vote on legalizing marijuana on April 1, 2019, and if passed, marijuana could go on sale in April 2020. The new law would establish an Office of Cannabis Management, which would have oversight of recreational marijuana use for adults who are 21 and older along with overseeing hemp and medical marijuana. The office would be responsible for creating licensing procedures for growers, distributors and sellers. Currently the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union represents medical marijuana employees, and it appears that the recreational cannabis industry would also fall under its representation. Taxes that the law would generate include a 20 percent state tax and two percent local tax on sales from wholesalers to resellers. Taxation for growers would be by the gram. The law would give priority to minority and women-owned businesses for licenses to grow and sell cannabis. How Would the Legalization Potentially Affect Business Employers? Business owners already faced challenges that resulted from the legalization of medical marijuana. Even so, marijuana recreational...

FAQs About Lactation Break Law

What NY Employers Should Know New York City passed a law for lactation breaks that requires NYC employers to provide a private lactation room and a refrigerator where nursing mothers can store milk. The new law goes into effect on March 18, 2019. Prior to this New York City law, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 introduced a provision that required employers to allow nursing mothers to take a break for breast pumping. What businesses does the lactation break law apply to? According to the New York State Department of Labor, all public and private business in New York must provide break time so nursing mothers can pump breast milk at work. This law applies to all businesses regardless of the size or nature of the business. How long must employers provide a mother with lactation breaks? After the birth of the child, the mother can take breaks to pump breast milk for up to three years. How long is the lactation break? Employers must provide at least 20 minutes for each break. However, employees may take less time if they choose or may ask for more time if necessary. How often must the breaks occur? Employers must allow employees to take the break at least once every three hours. Employees can take these breaks immediately before or after meal breaks if they wish. For example, the employee could leave for the lactation break 20 minutes before or after the usual lunch break time. Must employers pay for lactation breaks? No. Employers do not have to pay nursing mothers for the break time. In addition, employees have the option...

Employers: What Questions Should You Avoid in a Job Interview? Illegal and Discriminatory Questions

Certain questions are taboo for employers to ask in a job interview. The most obvious ones are questions that could be regarded as discrimination. If you ask these types of questions, you could be held liable if a discrimination lawsuit is brought against you. Do not ask questions that intimate at anything to do with age, race, color, national origin or birthplace, religion, disability, genetic information, gender/sex or marital/family status/pregnancy. (EEOC) Examples of Questions to Avoid in Job Interviews It’s best to cross these types of questions or similar questions off your list and steer clear of them. Examples include: Are you biracial? Which church do you attend? What languages do you speak at home? Are you pregnant? Do you plan to have children within the next year? Do you have a disability? What medications are you currently taking? Have you filed any workers’ compensation claims? Have any of your close relatives had a heart attack or been diagnosed with a heart condition? Do mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia run in your family? Have you had genetic tests to determine whether you are at risk for cancer? When do you plan to retire? How old are your children? What salary did you make at your last job? Salary Related Questions The New York City Council passed a law that went into effect in 2017 that prohibited employers from asking job candidates about their salary history, compensation history and other past benefits during job interviews. Similarly, Suffolk County, New York has recently passed a law (the RISE Act) prohibiting the same questions. This law goes...

What Is the Payroll Audit Independent Determination Program?

Should You Participate in Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID)? The Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) may be a solution for some restaurant owners to deal with wage violations. Even so, it is always wise to get a legal opinion so you can make an informed decision that protects your interests. How Does PAID Work? The incentive that PAID offers is that employers can resolve potential overtime and minimum wage violations under the FLSA without resorting to litigation. A few qualifications to participate in the program are that the employer has not been sued during the previous five years and is also not currently party to a lawsuit brought against them for FLSA violations. The PAID program encourages employers to do self-audits. If they find overtime or minimum wage violations, they can report the violations themselves and work to correct their mistakes and pay the affected employees the back wages owed. The self-audits focus on identifying potential violations, the employees affected by them, the timeframe of the violations and the amount of back wages owed. Once you have conducted the audit, you must submit the information to the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and go through the compliance steps. The advantage of going through the steps and receiving WHD supervision and certification before paying back wages owed is that employees will have to waive their rights to pursue a private lawsuit. Challenges Restaurant Owners Face Paying a single employee back wages may not be the greatest threat that a restaurant owner faces. However, a collective lawsuit and paying many employees, plus penalties and other expenses can be daunting. Under the...

The Restaurant Industry and DOL Battle Over Tipped Wage Policy

Why Did the RLC Sue the DOL over Tipped Wages? On July 6, the Restaurant Law Center (RLC) sued the Department of Labor (DOL) over an enforcement policy that demanded tipped workers must receive full minimum wage under certain circumstances for non-tipped work. Workers spending 20 percent or more of their weekly hours doing tasks that were not tipped work had to receive full minimum wage for those hours. The RLC is the litigation department of the National Restaurant Association. It presented its case before a federal court in Texas, requesting that the court invalidate the policy. It claimed that under the Administrative Procedure Act, the policy was arbitrary and capricious. Tipped Wage Policy Details Tipped employees, such as bartenders and servers receive a minimum base of at least $2.13 per hour as long as their hourly pay plus tips is more than the full minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If the employee’s tips plus $2.13 base do not total $7.25 per hour, the employer must make up the difference. Examples of side tasks that are not tipped functions include filling salt and pepper shakers, rolling silverware in napkins, stocking liquor, washing glasses and so on. Allegations Brought by the RLC According to a BNA article, the RLC alleges that the Obama Administration slipped a policy into the internal agency handbook without public notice or opportunity for dispute. Doing so was in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The lawsuit requests the Court to set aside the provision and enjoin enforcement of the APA. The RLC argues that the policy is contrary to the Fair Labor Standards...

Paycheck Deductions: What Is Legal in New York?

Understanding NY Laws about Paycheck Deductions Laws vary from state to state regarding deducting for loans or legitimate business losses from an employee’s paycheck. New York has very strict labor laws regarding this, stricter than laws in many other states. In addition, current guidelines have changed from what they were in the past. Guidelines Regarding NY Paycheck Deductions New York State Labor Law provides guidelines that list what paycheck deductions are legal. After receiving notice of all terms and conditions of the payment/benefits and details about the manner in which the deductions will be made, employees must voluntarily authorize the deductions in writing. Authorized deductions include: Insurance premiums and prepaid legal plans Pension or health and welfare benefits Contributions to a bona fide charitable organization Purchases made at events sponsored by a bona fide charitable organization affiliated with the employer when 20 percent of the event’s profits are being contributed to a bona fide charitable organization U.S. bonds Dues or assessment to a labor organization Discounted parking or passes, tokens, fare cards, vouchers or items that enable mass transit for the employee Fitness center, health club, and/or gym membership dues Cafeteria and vending machine purchases made at the employer’s place of business and purchases at gift shops operated by the employer, where the employer is a hospital, college or university Pharmacy purchases made at the employer’s place of business Tuition, room, board and fees for pre-school, nursery, primary, secondary, and/or post-secondary educational institutions Day care, before-school and after-school care expenses Payments for housing provided at no more than market rates by non-profit hospitals or affiliates Similar payments for the...