In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the nationwide discourse over the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, New York State and New York City have taken aggressive steps to implement stronger protections against workplace harassment. These new protections, which are now law in New York State and New York City, will require New York employers to revise their policies, procedures and agreements, deliver new training, and provide employees with additional information about sexual harassment. Below, we summarize the new requirements and other changes in the law and discuss next steps.
Last year New York State made significant changes to its wage orders resulting in increases to the State’s minimum wage, white collar overtime exemption salary thresholds, tip, meal and lodging credits, and uniform allowances. The latest changes go into effect on December 31, 2017. We quickly summarize the minimum wage and overtime salary threshold changes below, but urge you to visit our prior post here for more in-depth coverage, including best practices for compliance.
Over the next two weeks we will release our Year in Review segment, which will look at the key labor & employment law developments from 2016 in New York, the DC Metro Area, Massachusetts, and California while offering our thoughts about 2017. Today we kick off this segment with New York. In addition, please join us in NYC on April 6, 2017 for Mintz Levin’s Third Annual Employment Law Summit as we address some of the key labor & employment issues impacting employers in 2017. Register here.
2016 brought big changes for New York State and City employers, including expansive new discrimination protections and substantial increases in the minimum wage and exempt salary thresholds. While New York employers who successfully navigated 2016’s rush of legislative, regulatory and judicial obstacles might feel they’ve earned the right to shift their focus back from compliance issues to running their businesses, they should not lose sight of the additional challenges expected in 2017.
The New York State Department of Labor has adopted regulations clarifying employers’ rights and obligations when implementing policies that limit the discussion of wages in the workplace. Under New York Labor Law section 194(4), an employer may not prohibit employees from discussing wages, but may establish “reasonable workplace and workday limitations on the time, place and manner for inquiries about, discussion of, or the disclosure of wages.” The DOL’s new regulations provide guidance on the permissible scope of policies that limit wage discussions as well as the notice employers must provide to employees about such policies.
Since a Texas federal judge blocked the U.S. Department of Labor’s overtime rule from taking effect in November, human resource managers, payroll professionals and employment attorneys (including over here at Employment Matters) have been abuzz about the fact that, at least for now, employers do not need to make sweeping changes to their compensation practices to comply with the rule. What has been less discussed, however, is the impact on New York employers of the New York State Department of Labor’s amendments to New York’s Wage Orders, which become effective on Saturday, December 31, 2016, and which will, among other things, significantly increase the State’s minimum wage rate as well as its the minimum salary thresholds for individuals classified as exempt executives and administrative employees.
The NYSDOL had proposed these changes several months ago and the comment period ended back on December 3rd. But the final rule was issued just yesterday, unchanged from its proposed form. With the clock ticking, New York employers must and should pay immediate attention to these changes and should act quickly to fulfill their ongoing notice and posting obligations while adjusting compensation levels accordingly. We summarize the Wage Order amendments below.
As the workplace becomes increasingly digitized, both employers and employees can benefit from the conveniences technology provides. Chief among those is the convenience of electronic access to funds, which allows people to bank, pay bills, and transfer money from a computer or mobile device rather than being constrained by the limitations of brick and mortar financial institutions.
In this vein, many employers have taken advantage of new technology that makes life easier for businesses and their employees. In the realm of wages, electronic payment methods such as payroll debit cards and direct deposit would seem to make life easier. However, beginning on March 7, 2017, New York employers who use these methods to pay wages must pay even closer attention when doing so. That’s because last month the New York State Department of Labor issued Regulations imposing various additional written notice and consent requirements on employers who use methods other than cash or check to pay employees. We summarize those requirements below.
Last summer the Second Circuit issued an important decision that identified the proper test for determining whether an employer properly classified an individual as an unpaid intern. The decision was a victory for employers because the nature of the test required courts to utilize a highly-individualized analysis of each intern’s experience, and therefore, it did not necessarily lend itself to class action treatment. On rehearing, the Second Circuit has now amended this decision to clarify that the test is highly context-specific rather than dependent on the individualized experiences of each intern.
Written by Michael Arnold
Confirming earlier reports, New York employers will not have to distribute New York State Wage Theft Act Annual Pay Notices in January 2015 or thereafter.
Written by Michael Arnold
New York is set to end its requirement under the Wage Theft Prevention Act that employers annually distribute notices to employees detailing certain wage payment information. In just the short time it was in effect, this requirement proved an administrative headache for most employers. While the repeal will be welcomed by employers, they should also take note of the law’s other important changes.
Continue Reading Governor Cuomo Set to Sign Law Repealing the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act’s Annual Pay Notice Requirement; Law Also Extends Wage Payment Liability to Ten Largest Members of New York LLCs
Written by Michael Arnold
“Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits.” While the author to this famous New Year’s quote remains unknown, that certainly doesn’t make it any less true, including for employers. We hope that, this year, you will buck this trend and actually start doing things a little differently – take a fresh look at that handbook, revisit that non-compete agreement you give to employees that, admittedly, you just cut and pasted off the internet years’ ago, perform that overtime exemption analysis you’ve been putting off forever . . . . It’s never too late to get your affairs in order, and the New Year provides you with the perfect opportunity to do so. And for those of you with employees here in New York, and especially in New York City, we implore you do so as the laws, as you’ll see below, are once again a changin.
Below we look back at the year that was and discuss the year that will be in New York. We hope that you have a great 2014 and look forward to continuing to bring you the latest and greatest in updates here on Employment Matters.