New York News & Analysis

  • Breaking serve: Second Circuit calls 'fault,' reinstates Hofstra tennis coach's Title VII claim

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (whose decisions apply to New York employers) recently overturned a district court's dismissal of an employee's federal, state, and local sex discrimination claims because his employer didn't comply with its own policies when it investigated a complaint against him. It's troubling the accused employee may have gained the right to sue his employer for sex discrimination based solely on the manner in which it conducted the investigation and a female student who filed the complaint may be seen as an "agent" of the employer for purposes of imputing liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is a case every New York employer should understand to avoid the same pitfalls.

  • Air ball: Basketball coach's discrimination claims fall short

    Often, proving a sex discrimination case is the same whether the employer is in the private or public sector. However, there can be some very important differences. In a recent case, the Second Circuit explained how athletic department supervisors at Binghamton University (BU) couldn't be held liable for an assistant basketball coach's claims of sex, sexual orientation, and national origin discrimination. The case explains the key differences between the laws that apply to private-sector and public-sector employers. It's also a great reminder of how complex and nuanced this area of the law can be.

  • IRS authorizes more preventive services to be paid by HSA-eligible health plans

    The IRS recently issued guidance expanding the definition of "preventive care" that may be covered—possibly free of charge—by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) that's paired with a health savings account (HSA). While the changes made by the guidance are relatively simple, they have the potential to make HSAs substantially more attractive, particularly to employees who have a chronic condition that is controlled by medication or therapy. Before diving too far into the details, however, it's important to have a solid understanding of HSAs and how they work.

  • Association retirement plans may not be ready for prime time

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently finalized regulations allowing multiple employers to offer a retirement plan to their employees through a combined association retirement plan (ARP). In what is becoming a common theme for the agency under President Donald Trump, the new rules are intended to make it easier for small to mid-sized employers to offer such plans to their employees. While they are similar to rules finalized last year that established a new type of association health plan, they go even further by establishing guidelines for professional employer organizations (PEOs) to sponsor retirement plans for their members' employees. Unfortunately, they also may face some of the same problems as those rules, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

  • Agency Action

    New wage and hour opinion letters issued. The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in July announced new opinion letters related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). FLSA2019-7 addresses the calculation of overtime pay for nondiscretionary bonuses paid on a quarterly and annual basis. FLSA2019-8 addresses the application of the highly compensated employee exemption to paralegals employed by a trade organization. FLSA2019-9 addresses permissible rounding practices for calculating an employee's hours worked. FLSA2019-10 addresses the compensability of time spent in a truck's sleeper berth while otherwise relieved from duty. The DOL offers a search function allowing users to search existing opinion letters by keyword, year, topic, and a variety of other filters. The search function can be accessed at www.dol.gov/whd/opinion/search/fullsearch.htm.

  • New York passes expanded pay equality protections

    Coinciding with the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team's FIFA World Cup win—which spotlighted the issue of pay inequality—Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two new bills on July 10, 2019, which were intended to promote equal pay. Employers should understand how the new laws will affect their hiring and compensation programs and the new exposures created.

  • Race discrimination in New York: a hairy situation

    On July 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed amendments to the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) to expand a prohibition against race discrimination based on hairstyles or hair traits. Read on to understand the new legislation and how your company will be affected.

  • Federal court questions state's ban on arbitrating sexual harassment claims

    Employers generally favor arbitration of discrimination claims because the claim remains out of the public record and they avoid the risk of a "runaway" jury verdict. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, New York law was amended to prohibit agreements requiring the mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims. Since then, the New York State Legislature passed a bill to further amend state law and prohibit the mandatory arbitration of all other discrimination claims. A recent federal district court decision held, however, that such a prohibition in the private sector may not be enforceable.

  • Individual coverage HRAs probably not option for 2020

    On his very first day in office, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to lessen the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) burden on the organizations and individuals who were subject to its requirements. More than two years later, the ACA is limping along, but the Trump administration is still working to carry out that order.

  • How to identify and minimize employee burnout

    You may have seen reports recently that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified employee burnout as a diagnosable medical condition. While that's not exactly accurate, the group has expanded its definition of the term in its latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases.