Discrimination on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation has long been illegal under the New York Human Rights Law, but not under federal Title VII. However, that all changed in February 2018 when the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its prior decisions and found that Title VII does bar sexual orientation.
Earlier this month, 56 attorneys general of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands implored Congress in a letter to prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses of workplace sexual harassment claims and allow victims to have their day in court. The letter also frowned upon the secrecy requirements of arbitration clauses, which “disserve the public interest by keeping both the harassment complaints and any settlements confidential.”
The state and federal discrimination laws prohibiting unequal treatment based on protected categories, such as age, race, sex etc., apply only to employees, and thus not to owners, members or partners of a business. However, in several cases across the country involving law firms, this precept has become much more complicated as courts have begun to consider what type of owner or partner a person is before deciding whether he/she should be covered by the broad definition of employee within the discrimination laws.
Recently, we’ve been warning employers that in order to have a legally compliant unpaid internship available, certain specific conditions had to be met. If those conditions were not met, employers ran the risk of facing liability for unpaid wages for someone they classified as an unpaid intern. The factors that have been in place until this month are as follows:
In another pro-business move from the Trump Administration, the United States Department of Labor announced last summer that it would resume issuing opinion letters offering interpretive guidance under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a practice that had been suspended during the Obama administration.
We are a week or so into the Paid Family Leave era in New York, and several questions have popped up frequently from clients, including:
On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law a tax bill with sweeping legislative tax reform. The 2017 Tax Bill doubles the federal estate and gift tax exemption for estates of decedents dying and gifts made after Dec. 31, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2026. For 2018, the federal exemption amount per individual will be $11.2 million. Conversely, the 2018 New York exemption amount per individual will be only $5,250,000.
A group of bipartisan lawmakers has introduced a bill, Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017, that would make it illegal for companies to enforce contractual terms that force employees to arbitrate their sexual harassment or gender discrimination claims rather than take such claims to court. Advocates of the bill say forced arbitration only protects the bad actor rather than the victim. The arbitration process usually allows the employer and the bad actor to keep the harassment or discrimination much more private than is possible in a court case.
There are finally signs of change at the National Labor Relations Board. In the beginning of December, the New General Counsel (GC) Peter Robb, a former employer-side attorney, sent a memorandum to all regional offices signaling that pro-employer changes are on the horizon.
To employers, managers, employees and everyone else in the workplace:
Surely most have heard about the many celebrities who have recently been accused of, and/or admitted to, serious acts of sexual harassment. Some of these acts were so extreme and outrageous, or occurred in places like Hollywood, that it might be easy to forget that the law prohibits severe and pervasive sex-related conduct in all New York workplaces with at least four employees.
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A new statute set to take effect on April 9, 2011, New York's "Wage Theft Prevention Act", requires that employers provide significantly more information to employees regarding wages or risk facing increased civil, and in some cases criminal, penalties.
New York State has passed a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights which amends New York Labor Law and provides extensive protection to domestic workers. The law goes into effect on November 29, 2010. Please click on the link for further information.