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#NYLA2020 : What's new in employment law?

Program Description: How do changes in employment law, particularly New York State law, change what is required of libraries as employers, including new policy requirements, increased potential legal liability, and other concerns?

Program Speakers: 

  • Ellen M. Bach, Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP 
  • Robert T. Schofield, Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP 

Brief Notes

This session is always packed full of good information.  My notes will be brief and generally just note the topics, so they will not misleading.  Look for verified online resources to learn more, talk to your HR department, or contact an employement law counselor if necessary.
 
COVID-19 Related
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act is due to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. Bach notes that this applies to all of the employers "in the room."  This can apply to an employee who travels outside of NYS and now needs to quarantine.
  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
  • Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act
  • NY Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave - This was passed before the federal act. This then became much less applicable.  The federal law covers more circumstances.  This does not cover an employee who travels outside of NYS and now needs to quarantine.

Long-Term Changes or New laws

  • New York State Sick Leave - This is not specifically for COVID and is for private sector employers. Effective Sept. 30, 2020 with leaves available beginning Jan. 1, 2021.  This is complicated.  Employers should have a written policy about this.  This law includes "sick leave" and "safe leave." [Personally the definition for "sick leave" seems like "wellness" leave, because it covers doctor appointments.]  "Safe leave" relates to domestic violence or domestic incidence. This does not apply to public employers.
  • Updated to the NYS Human Rights Law
    • Reduced Standard for Proving Harassment
    • Proving Unlawful Harassment - change to how to prove harassment
    • Training and Policy - Bach notes that it makes sense not to focus the training only on sexual harassment, but rather including all areas of discrimination or harassment.
    • Coverage - non-employee service providers are covered, and applies to all NYS employers no matter how many employees they have.
    • Litigation Rules
  • NYS Reproductive Health Law - If you have an employee handbook, this must be in the handbook.
  • Updates to the NYS Voting Law 
  • NYS Salary History Ban - There are interesting details here and some squishy areas.  An employer can ask about a person's salary expectations, but an employer should be very careful because it could lead to a discussion that should not be had.
  • Minimum Wage is going up on Jan. 1, 2021 and is based on location.
  • Federal law is increasing the minimum salary - I did not catch the details.

Questions:

  • Since we have sick leave already for staff by contract in place would you recommend changing it to PTO or sick/safe leave time?  Answer: Don't just tinker with the policy. When you revise your policy or create a new one, use the language that is in the law.
  • NY State recently passed a law that allows face shields instead of face masks as suitable face covering. How do we protect our immune-compromised front line staff and comply with this law? Answer: If someone comes in with only a face shield, offer them a disposable face mask.  Have a copy of the CDC guidelines to refer to.
  • Do staff members need to be given a copy of the sexual harassment policy every year? Answer: Provide the policy at the time of training, which happens yearly.  Give it to them in hardcopy or provide a link and have them access it.

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#NYLA2020 : What's new in employment law?

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