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Expected 2019 PFL Developments

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

As New York State employers continue to manage their first year of paid family leave (PFL) benefits available to employees in 2018 (8 weeks maximum), comments and predictions about what the Legislature might do for 2019 have emerged.  As expected, we have heard that the disability insurers who pay out the PFL benefits to eligible employees are indicating that the current amount withheld from employees’ pay to cover PFL benefits is insufficient. 

New Anti-Harassment Provisions for Employers

Thursday, April 26, 2018

This month, Governor Cuomo signed a new anti-harassment law, and it contains provisions for private and public employers related to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Effectively immediately, employees are protected from harassment not only by other employees, but also “non-employees,” which can include vendors, consultants, contractors, and others providing services pursuant to a contract. 

Legislators Seek to Curb After-Hours Work

Monday, April 09, 2018

As reported recently by the Associated Press, a New York City Council member, perhaps influenced by a recent French law, has proposed legislation to allow some employees the right to ignore after-hours communications from employers. The proposal would apply to NYC employers with 10 or more employees, and would prohibit them from requiring employees to respond to or act on after-hours telephone calls, texts, emails etc. that are not emergencies, or discipline them for failing to do so.  It would not bar employers from sending such emails, and employees could respond if they so choose.

PFL Deductions Regulation Clarified

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A new regulation clarifies how deductions can be made from employee paychecks to fund New York’s Paid Family Leave program. 

Until this month, the general understanding was that a maximum of 0.126% of New York State Average Weekly Wage paycheck could be deducted from employees’ weekly wages.  That meant any deductions were capped at $1.65 a week.

Proposed Legislation: The Sunlight in Workplace Harassment Act

Monday, March 19, 2018

In another attempt to stem sexual harassment in the workplace, legislation proposed in both the House and the Senate at the end of last month would require publicly traded companies to report information related to harassment or discrimination settlements and complaints in their SEC filings.  So far the measure lacks bipartisan support, but this latest proposed legislation is further evidence that workplace harassment and discrimination has lawmakers’ attention and will for a long time to come. 

Second Circuit Finds Sexual Orientation Discrimination Barred Under Title VII

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

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. 

Attorneys General Band Together to Prohibit Mandatory Arbitration

Thursday, February 22, 2018

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.” 

When an "Owner", "Member" or "Partner" is No Such Thing

Friday, February 09, 2018

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.

DOL Issues New Guidelines for Unpaid Internships

Monday, January 29, 2018

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:

DOL Reissues Opinion Letters

Monday, January 15, 2018

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. 

Governmental Affairs
08

Federal Legislative Action Alert

YOUR ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED!  Please e-mail your U.S. senators and representative and ask them to co-sponsor the Enzi / Gingrey Joint Resolution! 

Former HR professional and SHRM member, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), have introduced Senate Joint Resolution 36 and House Joint Resolution 103 in the Senate and House, respectively. If adopted by Congress, these joint resolutions would nullify the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) new “quick election” rule, which will shorten the time employers have to respond to union petitions.

Please Take This Action:
Write your members of Congress using SHRM’s HRVoice program by following these steps:

1.    Log onto the SHRM Advocacy Action Center by clicking HERE

2.    Personalize your message with your own story

3.    Include your home mailing address.


Background

Since the demise of the Employee Free Choice Act following the 2010 midterm election, the Obama Administration has increasingly advanced labor-management relations policy through the executive branch. Throughout 2011, the NLRB was active in issuing case decisions and substantive regulations.

Issue

One of the recent NLRB actions is its election case procedures rule, otherwise known as the “quick election” rule. The final rule was published on Dec. 22, 2011, and it intends to shorten the time employers have to respond to representation petitions to as few as 10 days. The quick election rule is scheduled to take effect on April 30, 2012.

Congressional Republicans are working to repeal the NLRB’s quick election rule before it takes effect. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), introduced a joint resolution that, if passed, would nullify the NLRB’s quick election rule.  The joint resolutions are based on the Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA), which allows the Senate and House to consider a joint resolution of disapproval that features the full force of law to stop a federal agency from implementing a rule or regulation.

Outlook

Senate supporters of the Enzi/Gingrey joint resolution are likely to force a vote on the resolution in late March or April. The joint resolution needs only a simple majority (51 votes) to pass the Senate, not the 60 votes it usually takes to defeat a Senate filibuster. If the resolution passes both the House and Senate and is not vetoed by President Obama, the quick election rule would be repealed.

SHRM Position

SHRM supports the Enzi/Gingrey joint resolution based on the belief that the quick election rule’s reduced timeframe is unnecessary. A recent NLRB annual report revealed that the median time from a representation petition to an election was 38 days in Fiscal Year 2010. This reasonable 38-day average period gives employees ample time to hear both the union and employer perspectives on collective bargaining prior to a representation election.

Should you have any questions regarding the Enzi/Gingrey joint resolution, please contact Michael Layman, SHRM Government Relations Senior Associate, at michael.layman@shrm.org.

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