New York News & Analysis

  • More reefer madness? NYC law would ban marijuana testing

    Despite marijuana being illegal under federal law, the New York City (NYC) Council has passed a bill that would prohibit NYC employers from requiring applicants to be tested for marijuana use. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration has expressed its full support for the bill, and the mayor is expected to sign it into law. A number of states have legalized the sale and possession of marijuana, but the NYC law will be the first of its kind in the country. Although it applies only in NYC, employers should be aware of what the bill requires, given the pending legislation to legalize marijuana in New York state.

  • New York Legislature amends election leave law

    New York employers should pull out their red pens (or pencils) yet again to make another modification to their personnel policies—this time, with regard to election leave. On April 12, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed amendments to New York state's election law allowing paid time off (PTO) for voting. Employees will now be entitled to up to three hours of paid leave on election days; employer rights are still to be determined.

  • Second Circuit expands relevant time during which harassment occurred for ADEA purposes

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (whose decisions apply to all New York employers) recently expanded the relevant time period that should be examined when a court is considering a discrimination claim. In a troubling decision, the Second Circuit held that the lower court should have considered discriminatory events outside the 300-day period preceding an employee's administrative charge.

  • DOL says FMLA leave mandatory for employees and employers

    After more than 25 years, you might think questions regarding proper interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be settled. It's a highly regulated law, and it provides employers far more detail and clarity than they get with most other labor and employment laws.

  • Tips to ensure you are prepared for a deposition

    For an HR professional, giving a deposition is a lot like visiting the dentist. You know it's necessary, but you probably aren't looking forward to it. You may be asked questions you don't want to answer (like how often you actually floss). And finally, consistently responsible practices should reduce your stress levels about the event, make it go a lot smoother, and prevent worse problems in the future.

  • Rising concerns about distracted drivers

    In many industries, employees are required to drive their own or company-owned vehicles as part of their job duties. In light of the ubiquity of smartphones and the ingenuity that leads to the ability to multitask while driving, employees, employers, and lawmakers have grown more and more concerned about distracted drivers.

  • Workplace Trends

    NFIB speaks out against predictive scheduling laws. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) issued a statement in March in opposition to state and local laws requiring employers to provide hourly workers their work schedules weeks in advance. The organization said such laws aren't always possible or realistic for small businesses. "It severely limits owners' control over their scheduling decisions and urgent business needs," the statement said. The organization pointed to laws in Oregon, Seattle, and San Francisco and said the unpredictability of staff needs in certain industries like construction and hospitality raises concerns. "The laws not only prevent employers from adjusting to market changes, bad weather, or other demands outside their control, but they also prevent employees from picking up additional work hours at a moment's notice or requesting unanticipated time off," the statement said.

  • Agency Action

    NLRB chair claims joint-employment comment review not outsourced. Responding to concerns from congressional Democrats, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Chair John F. Ring says his agency is not outsourcing the review of public comments on the joint-employer standard. In March, Ring wrote a letter to Bobby Scott, chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, and Frederica S. Wilson, chair of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor & Pensions, saying the Board has not outsourced the substantive review of comments on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on what constitutes joint employment. Instead, he said the NLRB decided "to engage temporary support on a limited, short-term basis to perform the initial sorting and coding of the public comments." He said the process ensures confidentiality protections are in place, and the Board's professionals will perform the first substantive review of the comments.

  • Sticks and stones: hostile work environment claims under the ADA

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has long allowed an employee to establish discrimination through the existence of a "hostile work environment." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, whose decisions control in New York, has recently recognized a hostile work environment claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Joining its "sister Circuits," the Second Circuit held that a disabled employee could allege his coworkers' taunts and mockery amounted to a hostile work environment prohibited by law. While the Second Circuit didn't hold the coworkers' alleged words and actions were illegal under the ADA, it held open the possibility that sufficiently "severe and pervasive" maltreatment may subject an employer to liability under the ADA.

  • U.S. DOL's overtime 'do-over'

    In May 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) under the Obama administration released overtime rules that more than doubled the minimum salaried-exempt threshold for "white-collar" and other salaried-exempt employees. The 2016 final overtime rules increased the minimum salary threshold for administrative, executive, or professional (APE) employees from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests immediately launched lawsuits and obtained a stay (or hold) on the rules' implementation from a U.S. district court in Texas. Three years later, the DOL—now under the Trump administration—is again attempting to modify the minimum salary threshold for salaried-exempt employees, albeit in a less drastic fashion.