The recent controversy involving the Google employee fired for challenging his employer’s diversity policies highlights some misconceptions concerning free speech rights in the workplace.

That controversy also adds an interesting dimension to the spate of reported terminations of individuals who were internet-shamed for participating in alt-right demonstrations (such as the employee who reportedly resigned from Top Dog Café in Berkeley). Ironically enough from a timing perspective, those job actions also implicate another fundamental right – the right to freedom of assembly (and derivatively, of association).

Continue Reading What Can You Say in the Workplace? Whatever Your Employer Allows You to Say ….

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral argument in October on whether class and collective action waivers are enforceable. While employers await the Supreme Court’s decision, other courts continue to weigh in on the matter.  Just last week, a New York State appellate court in Gold v. New York Life Ins. Co.2017 NY Slip Op 05695 (App. Div. 1st Dep’t, July 18, 2017), found itself aligned with those federal circuit courts of appeal invalidating these waivers.  Given the continuing disagreement among courts across the nation – both federal and state – as to whether the Federal Arbitration Act’s policy favoring arbitration should trump the National Labor Relations Act’s prohibition on contracts that restrict the rights of employees to engage in collective action, the need for clarity from the Supreme Court is more urgent than ever. Employment Matters will of course continue monitoring these important developments, so please check back in for regular updates.

The Paid Family Leave Act will provide, when fully implemented, employees in the state of New York with up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave to (1) care for a family member (including a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, spouse or domestic partner) with a serious health condition; (2) bond with the employee’s newborn or newly-placed adoptive or foster child during the first 12 months following birth or placement; or (3) address any qualifying exigency relating to a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent who is serving on active military duty. The Act will be funded by employee contributions and, when fully implemented, the employee will be entitled to income replacement of up to 2/3rds of the state average weekly salary.

January 1, 2018 was established as the date upon which benefit payments begin but the Act allowed employers to begin taking deductions as of July 1, 2017 to offset the cost of acquiring the mandated insurance policies.

The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board recently revised its proposed regulations (described in our previous blog post here) to the law.  The revisions were in response to over 100 written comments.  Here is a quick summary of those revisions:

Continue Reading New York Paid Family Leave Law Contributions Have Started, While Proposed Regulations Are Revised

In a previous post we discussed the significant new obligations New York City’s “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” imposes on employers that retain the services of freelance independent contractors. On May 15, these requirements became effective for all freelance contracts executed on or after that date. Some of the law’s key provisions include the requirements that freelance services in excess of $800 be detailed in written contracts and that employers provide payment for freelance services within 30 days, and a prohibition on retaliation against freelancers who exercise their rights under the law.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Labor Policy Standards has issued some limited initial guidance on the law but, as we discussed in our earlier post, numerous questions remain concerning the law’s practical implications. Please stay tuned to Employment Matters for updates as we continue to monitor this law’s impact on companies that rely on freelance workers.

As expected, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) recently appealed the decision of the New York Industrial Board of Appeals invalidating the DOL regulations concerning employers who use direct deposit or payroll debit cards to pay employees.  The regulations, which were scheduled to take effect on March 7, 2017, were invalidated in February 2016.  We reported on that decision here.  We will continue to provide updates here as this case moves forward; but for now, the law on this issue remains in flux. Stay tuned!

We had such a spirited panel discussion on pay equity at our Third Annual Employment Law Summit recently that we wanted to follow up with a post addressing the current state of play on pay equity legislation, particularly with respect to salary history disclosure laws. This is a rapidly advancing area of the law in which we continue to see new developments.

Continue Reading Legislation Limiting an Employer’s Ability to Inquire About and Consider Applicants’ Prior Salary History Gains Momentum

Friendly reminder to our readers that on April 6, 2017, Mintz Levin will be hosting its Third Annual Employment Law Summit at the Princeton Club in New York City.  This half-day seminar will feature as its keynote speaker Liz Vladeck, the Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Labor Policy and Standards at the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.  Deputy Commissioner Vladeck will discuss NYC’s new Office of Labor Policy and Standards, its initiatives, and enforcement of the expanding universe of NYC employment laws (i.e. Freelance Workers act).  The seminar will also offer various segments on the most important workplace issues of the day, including how the new Trump Administration will impact workplace law, cybersecurity issues in the workplace, equal pay, wage and hour, employee relations, employee benefits, and more – it’s a program that you will not want to miss.  Registration is still open, so if you would like to attend click here.

This event is intended for HR professionals, in-house counsel, and senior executives.

Our friends at Privacy & Security Matters recently posted an important update on the New York State Department of Financial Services’ new cybersecurity regulations. The regulations, which became effective March 1, 2017, impose a series of requirements on banks, insurers and financial services firms as well as on third party service providers that have access to these entities’ nonpublic information, such as IT vendors, law firms and accounting firms. Among other requirements, covered entities must designate chief information security officers within their organizations, create detailed response plans for dealing with security breaches and institute employee training programs. The regulations establish several compliance deadlines and we strongly encourage employers to take a proactive approach in revising their policies and practices to meet these new obligations.