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February/March, 2019
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Dear Clients/Friends/Colleagues:
 
I know you have missed our newsletter. We are happy to return to you with some important updates, as well as a look into what may lie ahead in the near future.
 
We at M&B are available to assist you with navigating the legal world or to give some advice in the areas of labor and employment law, business litigation and criminal law.
  
Breaking News:
Big Changes Coming For NJ Paid Family Leave

Yesterday, February 19, 2019, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law an extensive expansion of New Jersey's paid family leave program.
New Jersey's paid family leave program will now be one of the most generous in the country.

Here are some of the highlights:
  • Family leave would double from 6 to 12 weeks, and intermittent leave, from 42 to 56 days.
  • Payment to the employee during family leave would increase to 85 percent of a worker's average weekly salary, capped at 70 percent the statewide average weekly wage, or $860.
  • Victims of domestic and sexual violence, as well as their family and caretakers, are now covered under the law.
  • Siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and parents-in-law also are now newly covered as caregivers.
When are these changes effective?
 
July 1, 2020. Most significantly, the law will cover employers with thirty (30) or more employees. Until now, it only covered employers with fifty (50) or more employees.
However effectively immediately, the bill removes the one-week waiting period preceding FLI benefits, enacts anti-retaliatory measures, and expands eligibility to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law and the equivalent of a family member.
 
How is FLI funded?

The Family Leave program is funded through a payroll deduction paid by every New Jersey worker.
  
NJ Increases the Minimum Wage Rate
 
With its governor's signature, New Jersey became the latest - and the third largest - state to pass a $15.00 per hour minimum wage bill. The only states with larger populations than New Jersey passing such $15 minimum wage bills are California and New York, which enacted similar laws in 2016 and 2017, respectively. (Illinois has just joined the club by passing a similar increase.)
 
Under the New Jersey law, the state's current minimum wage of $8.85 per hour will rise to $10.00 per hour on July 1, 2019; to $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2020; and an additional $1.00 per hour on January 1st of each successive year until reaching $15.00 per hour in 2024. Each year thereafter, based on state constitutional provisions, the minimum wage may increase further depending on the national Consumer Price Index. The New Jersey law does carve out a handful of exceptions, such as for seasonal employers and small employers (those with five or fewer employees), but most of those exceptions merely extend by a few years the schedule for implementing the $15 per hour minimum.
 
At the federal level, meanwhile, a bill to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15.00 per hour was introduced by Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives in early January. The current federal minimum wage has been $7.25 for nearly a decade. Backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and Senator Bernie Sanders, among others, the bill has 181 co-sponsors in the House and 31 co-sponsors in the Senate.
 
For more information about minimum wage or overtime laws, please contact Chaim Book at cbook@mb-llp.com
  

 
NYS Enacts the Child Victims Act
 
On February 14, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law.
 
The new law, which had been blocked by the State Senate for years, extends the statute of limitations for both civil and criminal claims relating to the sexual abuse of children.
 
Victims of sexual abuse may now bring civil claims against their abusers or those entities who knowingly employed them at any time before the victim reaches the age of fifty-five.
Equally importantly, victims whose claims are currently barred by the statute of limitations were given a one-year window to file a claim. The one year begins to run six months after the date on which the law was signed, i.e., on August 14, 2019.
 
Any person or entity that may be subject to such a lawsuit may have insurance coverage for such claims based on the insurance policy in effect at the time of the alleged incident and should be searching for records relating to insurance coverage during the relevant time period. For more information, please contact Avi Moskowitz
amoskowitz@mb-llp.com
  
 
NYC Considers Several Employment Law Initiatives
 
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/nyregion/fast-food-worker-firings.html
  • Mayor DeBlasio would like to introduce legislation requiring employers to offer ten days of vacation, in addition to the five paid sick days currently required by law. The Mayor proposed requiring private businesses with five or more employees to give at least 10 days of paid vacation a year, a step that would extend the benefit to about 500,000 full- and part-time workers who currently don't have it. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-09/nyc-s-de-blasio-seeks-paid-vacation-law-for-private-workers
  • The City's Human Rights Commission issued new guidelines prohibiting discrimination based on a person's hairstyle. Although they cover everyone, the guidelines focus on protecting black people. "There is a widespread and fundamentally racist belief that black hairstyles are not suited for formal settings, and may be unhygienic, messy, disruptive, or unkempt," the agency said. Those beliefs, it added, "are often rooted in white standards of appearance and perpetuate racist stereotypes that black hairstyles are unprofessional." Commission Chair Carmelyn Malalis said hair is a character of race and, therefore, already fell under her agency's protections. But she said she felt "compelled" to clarify the regulations after seeing a string of complaints from residents and national media reports.  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/18/style/hair-discrimination-new-york-city.html
Has Your Business Scheduled Anti-Sexual Harassment Training Yet?
 
If your business has not yet taken steps to ensure compliance with the NYS and NYC requirement regarding anti-sexual harassment training, or if you have taken preliminary steps but continue to have questions regarding practical implementation of your sexual harassment prevention policies and anti-harassment training, Moskowitz & Book continues to be available to assist you in avoiding unnecessary confusion, delays or noncompliance. Please contact Chaim Book at cbook@mb-llp.com
  

 
Moskowitz & Book, LLP  | cbook@mb-llp.com  | http://mb-llp.com/


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