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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
13
Once again the COBRA subsidy and unemployment benefit rules have been extended. If you have any questions please contact GVCSHRM Legislative Representative Paul F. Keneally, Esq., Chair Labor & Employment Practice Group, Underberg & Kessler LLP at 258-2882 or keneally@underbergkessler.com

Employers Must Account for Extension of COBRA Subsidy and Unemployment Benefit Rules

3/5/2010 By Edward I. Leeds and Farrah I. Gold
As widely reported in the press, on March 2, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, which provides short extensions for a number of government programs, including the COBRA subsidy rules and unemployment compensation benefits. Employers will need to consider how these extensions affect the administration of their benefits for terminated employees.

COBRA Subsidy Rules. The date for incurring an involuntary termination of employment that qualifies for the subsidy has been extended by one month, from Feb. 28, 2010, to March 31, 2010. Further extensions are almost certain to be considered in future legislation.

The act makes a few other significant changes. In particular, an individual who does not elect (or elects and then discontinues) COBRA continuation coverage following a reduction in hours will be given a second opportunity to elect continuation coverage and qualify for the subsidy if his or her employment is involuntarily terminated at a later date. The maximum continuation coverage period will be deemed to start as of the date hours were reduced, even though the actual continuation coverage will typically begin when employment terminates. Special notice and election provisions will apply. This change applies only to involuntary terminations of employment that occur on or after the date of enactment.

On a favorable note, the act provides that deference will be given to an employer’s reasonable determination that an involuntary termination has occurred. Employers should retain appropriate documentation supporting the determination, including an attestation by the employer of the involuntary termination of employment.

The act also builds on relevant enforcement provisions, authorizing the government to impose a civil penalty of up to $110 per day if an employer takes more than 10 days to implement a government appeal determination that an individual is eligible for the subsidy.

We expect further regulatory guidance on these new rules to be issued. For more information on the COBRA subsidy rules, click here.

Unemployment Compensation. The act’s unemployment insurance provisions extend various benefit periods. Specifically, the period during which individuals may apply for federal emergency unemployment compensation has been extended from Feb. 28, 2010, to April 5, 2010. Federal emergency unemployment compensation is now payable through Sept. 4, 2010, rather than July 31, 2010.

The act also extends the period during which individuals may qualify for the federal additional compensation, i.e., the amount to which the employee would be entitled under state unemployment compensation law plus an additional $25, from Feb. 28, 2010, to April 5, 2010. Additional compensation shall now be payable through the week ending Oct. 5, 2010, rather than Aug. 31, 2010.

The act extends the period during which extended benefits are 100 percent federally funded to April 5, 2010. States may opt to continue the period of extended benefits to Sept. 4, 2010, rather than July 31, 2010.

Edward I. Leeds is of counsel and Farrah I. Gold is an associate at the law firm Ballard Spahr LLP. © 2010 Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP. All Rights Reserved.

Editor’s Note: This article should not be construed as legal advice.

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