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December, 2017
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HOLIDAY GREETINGS

All of us at Moskowitz & Book, LLP would like to wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2018!


Reminder: New York State Family Leave Act Goes Into Effect
 
Pursuant to New York's Paid Family Leave ("PFL") Law, private sector employees in New York State will be eligible for paid family leave starting on January 1, 2018.
 
In 2018, full-time employee will be entitled to 8 weeks of PFL at 50% of the employee's average weekly wage.
 
We covered the details of this new law in our October 2017 newsletter.
 
For more information regarding the NYS Family Leave Act, please contact Brita Zacek at bzacek@mb-llp.com or Chaim Book at cbook@mb-llp.com.

  
Updates to NYC Paid Sick Leave Law

New York City has updated its Sick Leave Law to expand the reasons for which employees can use sick leave. Effective May 5, 2018, the Earned Sick Time Act will be renamed the "Earned Sick and Safe Time Act" and will allow employees to use "safe time" when they or a family member are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or stalking. The definition of "family member" under the Act has also been expanded to include an individual related by blood and an individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.
 
Under the expanded Act, safe time can be used for the following reasons:

 

  • To obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other shelter or services program;
  • To participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or family member;
  • To meet with a civil attorney or other social service provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in, any criminal or civil proceeding, including but not limited to matters related to a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, human trafficking, custody, visitation, matrimonial issues, orders of protection, immigration, housing, discrimination in employment, housing or consumer credit;
  • To file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;
  • To meet with a district attorney's office;
  • To enroll children in a new school; or
  • To take other actions necessary to maintain, improve, or restore the physical, psychological, or economic health or safety of the employee or family member or to protect those who associate or work with the employee.
Employees who wish to use safe time for one of these reasons must provide reasonable notice of a foreseeable absence, up to seven days before leave will begin. For unforeseeable absences, employees must provide notice as soon as practicable. Proper documentation may consist of the following:

  • Documentation signed by an employee, agent, or volunteer of a victim services organization, an attorney, a clergy member, or a medical or other professional service provider from whom the employee or a family member sought assistance;
  • A police or court record; or
  • A notarized letter from the employee explaining the need for leave.
However, employers cannot require employees to specify the details of the matter or details concerning the employee or family member's victim status.
 
For more information regarding the NYC Paid Sick Leave, please contact Brita Zacek at bzacek@mb-llp.com or Chaim Book at cbook@mb-llp.com.
BREAKING NEWS:
 2nd Circuit Holds that FLSA Claims Are Arbitrable
  
As many employers (especially smaller companies) have discovered in recent months and years, wage-and-hour lawsuits under the Fair Labor Standards Act are a significant headache and can cost many thousands of dollars to litigate and to resolve. Claims under the FLSA are notoriously tough for employers to defend because of the record keeping burden placed on them, and the costs of litigation. And the lawsuits are further complicated and expensive because they may not be settled without court approval as required by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in a case named Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House, Inc., 796 F.3d 199 (2d Cir. 2015).
 
Recently, employers have required their employees to sign arbitration agreements because they allow for employment lawsuits to be decided by an arbitrator and not a jury, and can sometimes be less expensive to litigate. Arbitration also provides a private forum for the disposition of cases-confidentiality that the courts do not offer. Now, the Court of Appeals has opened the door to the arbitration of FLSA claims.
 
In Rodriguez-Depena v. Parts Authority, Docket No 16-3396 (2d Cir. Dec. 12, 2017), the Court affirmed the dismissal of Rodriguez-Depena's complaint for violations of the FSLA, and ordered arbitration of his claims under his employment agreement. The Court relied on an earlier U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the enforcement of contractually required arbitration of an individual's claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Further, it specifically rejected the argument that FLSA claims cannot be arbitrable because, under Cheeks, stipulated dismissals settling such claims brought in federal court require court approval.
 
The decision in Rodriguez-Depena may allow employers to greatly reduce the cost of resolving FLSA claims, whether on the merits in arbitration or by settlement, and may, unlike the courts, provide them with confidentiality for those resolutions.
 
For more information regarding the use of arbitration clauses in employment agreements, please contact David Stein at dstein@mb-llp.com  or Chaim Book at cbook@mb-llp.com .
 
 


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