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January, 2020
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Congratulations Sheryl Galler
 
On January 28, 2020, Sheryl Galler was elected as Chair Elect of the New York State Bar Association's Women in Law Section.
 
NYSBA's Women in Law Section serves as an active voice and a catalyst to advance change and enhance opportunities for women in the legal profession and all women under the law.  The Section's activities include promoting, supporting, and advancing opportunities for women lawyers in the practice of law; advocating for legislation and policies to end gender discrimination and ensure the fair treatment of all persons; presenting continuing legal education programs; and providing networking and social opportunities for its members.
  
New York and New Jersey Minimum
Wage Increases for 2020

     New York. Effective December 31, 2019, New York City (NYC) employers of all sizes must pay their employees an hourly minimum wage of $15.00. Employers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties must pay their employees at least $13.00 per hour and employers elsewhere in New York State (NYS) must pay their employees at least $11.80 per hour. All fast food restaurant workers in New York City must be paid a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, while fast food workers in the rest of New York State must be paid at least $13.75 per hour.
 
     New Jersey. As of January 1, 2020, the minimum wage most New Jersey (NJ) employers must pay increased to $11.00 per hour (from the previous $10.00 per hour). Employers with fewer than six employees (small employers), seasonal employers, and agricultural employers in NJ must now pay $10.30 per hour to their employees, up from the previous $8.85 per hour.
 
 
New York and New Jersey Ban Questions
 on Salary History
 
     New York. NYC and Suffolk and Westchester counties already prohibit employers from basing employment decisions on the salary histories of job applicants and current employees. As of January 6, 2020, this conduct has been prohibited in the rest of NYS. Employers who refuse to interview, hire or promote, or who retaliate against an applicant or employee due to salary history or failure to disclose salary history, are in violation of this new law. It is not, however, considered a violation of this law if the applicant or employee volunteers to share with the employer information about his or her salary history.
 
     New Jersey. NJ has also banned screening job applicants based on salary history. As in New York, unless the applicant voluntarily provides his or her salary history to the prospective employer, the employer must not question the applicant about his or her past salaries. This NJ law went into effect on January 1, 2020.
 
For more details on NJ's new law on prohibiting salary history inquiries, please refer to our past newsletter and/or contact us with any other specific questions or concerns.

NYSHRL's Definition of "Employer" Expands
 
     Currently, the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) applies only to employers with four or more employees. However, as of February 8, 2020, the NYSHRL will expand its definition of "employer" to include employers of all sizes in NYS. Employers with fewer than four employees should make note of this upcoming change to be on alert for greater exposure to potential discrimination claims under state law.
 
     All NYS employers should also remember to provide their employees with annual anti-harassment training in 2020. As a reminder, the training should, among other information, explain what sexual harassment is, include examples of sexual harassment, and include information about employees' rights and redress. Additional information on the training requirements is available on the NYS Division of Human Rights website . Employers also must provide their employees, each year, with copies of their anti-harassment policies and information presented at anti-harassment training.
 
     NYC employers with 15 or more employees also must provide annual anti-harassment training to their employees, independent contractors, and interns. This, however, does not mean that employers must provide two different anti-harassment trainings each year because the training requirements set by the NYC Commission on Human Rights meet the training requirements of NYS. Employers must retain records that prove that all their employees were trained and must keep such records for three years after the training was completed.
 
If you have questions or concerns regarding this upcoming change to the NYSHRL, contact us at cbook@mb-llp.com.
  
Reproductive Health Decision Making is a
Protected Category Per New York State Law
                        
As of November 8, 2019, it became illegal in NYS to discriminate against employees and their dependents based on their "reproductive health decision making." Employers with handbooks must have updated their employee handbooks as of January 7, 2020 to include rights and remedies their employees have under this law.
 
Reproductive health decisions include, without limitations, decisions to use or access a certain drug, device, or medical service. Under this new law, employers may not (1) access without consent an employee's personal information to find out what reproductive health decisions the employee or employee's dependent made; (2) discriminate or retaliate against an employee on the basis of their, or their dependent's reproductive health decisions; or (3) require an employee to waive their right to make their own reproductive health decisions.
 
If you are an employer with questions or concerns about updating your company's employment handbook and/or policies, please contact us at cbook@mb-llp.com.

New Whistleblower Carve-Out Provisions in
Non-Disclosure Agreements in
New York State Employment Contracts

Employment contracts dated on or after January 1, 2020 that have a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) must include specific language that does not discourage future discrimination claims. This required carve-out provision in the NDA must state that the employee or potential employee is not, and will not be, proscribed from speaking with "law enforcement, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the state Division of Human Rights, a local commission on human rights, or an attorney retained by the employee or potential employee." The purpose of this new requirement is to encourage employees to disclose facts related to a potential discrimination claim to law enforcement and the aforementioned federal, state, and local agencies.
 
If you are an employer with questions or concerns about updating the non-disclosure agreement, and/or any additional provisions in your company's employment contracts, please contact us at cbook@mb-llp.com.
  
Increased Salary Thresholds for NYS
 Administrative Employees

 
The salary threshold for determining overtime exemption status for administrative employees has increased for 2020. As a result, more administrative employees will become eligible to receive overtime wages. Since December 31, 2019, administrative employees in NYS who receive the following annual salaries or more are not eligible to receive overtime pay:
 

  • NYC employer with 11 or more employees
    $1,125.00/week (or $58,500.00/year)
  • NYC employers with 10 or fewer employees
    $1,125.00/week (or $58,500.00/year)
     
  • Employer of any size in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties
    $975.00/week (or $50,700.00/year)
     
  • Employer of any size in the remainder of NYS
    $885.00/week (or $46,020.00/year)

 

Meanwhile, the definition of administrative employee has remained the same.
 
To remain compliant with the new salary thresholds that determine overtime exemptions, employers should review the compensation of their administrative employees and review the classification of employees as "administrative". To clarify your compliance with NYS's updated overtime exemption law, contact us at cbook@mb-llp.com.
  
New Jersey is the Latest State to Pass the CROWN Act

Following California and New York, New Jersey passed a law banning discrimination on the basis of hair styles and texture that are associated with an individual's race. This law, titled "Create a Respectful and Open Workspace for Natural Hair Act" or CROWN Act, applies to the workplace, schools, housing and any places open to the public. Hair styles that are protected by the CROWN Act include, but are not limited to, dreadlocks, braids, locks, and twists. Violations of this new law could cause employers to be liable for up to $10,000 for the first violation, $25,000 for the second violation, and/or $50,000 for a subsequent violation.
 
New Jersey's CROWN Act is already in effect. Therefore, New Jersey employers should carefully review their employee handbooks to make certain to update policies on the dress and appearance of current and prospective employees, especially to include protected hairstyles. Managers, supervisors, and human resources personnel should be trained to not discriminate against current and prospective employees and to not tolerate discrimination against employees and job applicants based on their hair styles or natural hair texture.
 
If you have any further question regarding the CROWN Act, contact Chaim Book at cbook@mb-llp.com.
  
Moskowitz & Book, LLP  | cbook@mb-llp.com  | http://mb-llp.com/


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