Author: Elizabeth Cowit

New Jersey Enacts Three Laws with Enhanced Penalties for Employer Misclassification

On July 8, 2021, Governor Murphy signed into law three bills that amend the Worker Misclassification Package signed into law in January 2020 and intensify penalties against employers that misclassify workers. As employment practitioners across the state will recall, the Misclassification Package signed into law in January 2020 consists of a number of laws that grant the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development (“Commissioner”) the power to assess penalties against any employer that misclassifies its employees and to issue stop-work orders at the location where any state wage, benefit, or employment tax law violation is found. The laws included in the previously enacted Misclassification Package also allow the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) to post on its website a list of employers who have been found to misclassify their workers and to create joint liability for employers and staffing agencies for violations of state wage and hour laws. For a more detailed look at the Misclassification Package, see here.

Anti-Harassment Policies and Training: What New York Employers Need to Know Now

New York State As part of the 2018-2019 New York State Budget (“the Law”), employers within New York State are required to implement an anti-harassment policy by October 9, 2018 and implement an anti-harassment training program for employees and supervisors. In connection with these requirements, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), in consultation with the New York State Division of Human Rights, recently released drafts of its model anti-harassment policy, complaint form, interactive training program, and FAQs (“Anti-Harassment Materials”). Employers may adopt these Anti-Harassment Materials or develop their own policies and programs, provided they comply with or exceed the minimum standards set forth in the Law for the model policy and training program. The NYSDOL accepted comments on the Anti-Harassment Materials through September 12, 2018. Final documents are expected soon. The seven-page template policy is extensive and covers the topics required by the Law, such as: a statement that sexual harassment is a form of “employee misconduct” an explanation of sexual harassment specific examples of harassing conduct details concerning external avenues of complaints for employees (e.g., local, state, and federal anti-discrimination agencies and the local police in cases of assault) prohibitions against retaliation reporting procedures supervisory responsibilities detailed information about the investigation process (including document preservation requirements) a statement that action will be...

New York City Salary History Law Takes Effect

As discussed in our “New York Employer’s Mid-Year Review” blog post, Local Law 67 (“salary history law”) took effect on October 31, 2017, and prohibits all New York City employers, employment agencies, and their employees and agents (collectively “employers”) from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history (including current or prior wages, benefits, and other compensation) during the hiring process, and from relying on an applicant’s salary history when determining his or her compensation package. As discussed in detail in the above-referenced blog post, the law does not prohibit a candidate from voluntarily (and without prompting) disclosing his or her salary history, and, in that situation, employers may consider and verify salary history in setting compensation. The law also includes specific exemptions and provides for the same remedies as other claims brought under the New York City Human Rights Law. The New York City Commission on Human Rights, which has enforcement responsibilities for the salary history law, recently issued Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”), which clarify the scope of the law’s coverage, what employers are permitted and not permitted to do in connection with salary inquiries, the definition of compensation, and best practices. Some key points set forth in the FAQs, include, among others: The law covers most applicants for jobs in NYC, regardless of employer size....

New York Employers Mid-Year Review

In 2017, employers in New York encountered several important statutory changes affecting recruitment of applicants and retention of independent contractors. More legal change will come in 2018, warranting a mid-year review of current employment and hiring practices, as well as preparation for next year’s developments. Employers should take the time now to audit current practices and prepare for the imminent future. Pay Equity On May 4, 2017, Local Law 67 was enacted to prohibit all employers in New York City from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history (including current or prior wages, benefits, and other compensation), and from relying on an applicant’s salary history when determining his or her compensation package during the hiring process, including contract negotiations. The law applies to both public and private employers and employment agencies, and to their employees and agents (collectively, “employers”). Employers may, however, engage in communications with an applicant about his or her expectations as to salary, benefits, and compensation, including any deferred compensation or unvested equity which the applicant may forfeit as a result of leaving his or her current employer. In addition, if the candidate voluntarily (and without any prompting by the prospective employer), discloses his or her salary history to the prospective employer, the employer may consider salary history in determining compensation for the applicant,...

Philadelphia Adopts Wage Equity Ordinance

On January 23, 2017, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed the Wage Equity Bill into law. The new law, influenced by the Massachusetts pay equity law, makes it unlawful for Philadelphia employers and employment agencies to ask about an applicant’s wage and benefit history or to rely on such applicant’s wage history to determine future wages. The law also prevents employers from retaliating against any candidate who fails to respond to any wage inquiry. The law takes effect on May 23, 2017, and aims to address historic wage gaps which affect women and minorities, by prohibiting employers from basing compensation on a candidate’s wages at a previous employer, given the historical pay inequities between men and women and minorities. In its “finding” sections, the new law provides statistical examples of wage disparities and encourages employers to set salary offers based on the job responsibilities of the position sought, rather than prior wages. Nothing in the law prohibits an applicant from disclosing voluntarily his or her compensation history. And, employers may still ask a candidate about his/her compensation expectations. The law also requires employers to post fair practices notices, which will be made available by the Commission. Employers should carefully review their employment applications and related documents to ensure compliance by May 23, 2017. For answers to...

NYC Council Passes “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act

On October 27, 2016, The New York City Council unanimously passed a local law, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, aimed to enhance protections for freelancers and purportedly to prevent wage theft. Under the law, freelancers include individuals (and organizations having no more than one person) retained as an independent contractor to provide services in exchange for payment. The law, however, excludes from coverage sales representatives (as defined in section 191 of the New York Labor Law), persons engaged in the practice of law under the contract at issue (and who are members in good standing of a bar and not under any restrictions with respect to the practice of law), and licensed medical professionals. The law does not apply to the United States government, New York City, and New York State (and their respective offices, departments, agencies, authorities, etc.) any local government, municipality, or county, along with any foreign government.

Department of Labor Final Overtime Rule

The United States Department of Labor (“the DOL”) has finally issued the long-awaited rules dramatically increasing the minimum salary level for the overtime-exempt classifications under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“the FLSA”). The new rules also incorporate mechanisms to adjust this salary level in the future. The effect of future adjustments will require an employer to pay wage increases unrelated to the employer’s financial condition or employee performance. The new rules will have the greatest impact on those employees currently classified as exempt but who will not meet the new minimum salary threshold. These rules go into effect December 1, 2016, a date later than DOL originally communicated, which gives employers an opportunity to conduct a self-analysis to prepare for these changes.

New York State Enacts a New Paid Family Leave Law

New York State recently passed the Paid Family Leave Benefits Law, which is among the strongest and most comprehensive leave statutes in the country. The new law amends the State’s current disability law, and imposes obligations on employers beginning in 2018. Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the NY law will provide both protected leave and paid benefits during the leave. The new law covers employers in the for-profit sector, with at least one employee, along with certain other employers in the public and not-for-profit sectors.

Republicans Propose Bill Invalidating DOL’s Proposed Final Rule Regarding Overtime Exemptions

Senate and House Republicans pushed back on the DOL’s proposed final rule on the “white-collar” overtime exemptions by proposing a new bill, the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act, seeking to invalidate the DOL rule. Under current regulations, employees must satisfy certain tests regarding the job duties they perform and be paid at least $23,660 per year, on a salary basis to be considered exempt under the FLSA’s “white-collar exemptions.” The DOL’s proposed final rule, however, seeks to more than double the minimum salary level from $23,660 to $50,440 per year and provides for automatic annual increases to the minimum salary threshold. Although the proposed final DOL rule does not include any specific changes to the “job duties” component of the exemptions, such changes may be included in the final rule.