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Jessica regularly counsels businesses on employment policies and practices, including employee handbooks, employment agreements, restrictive covenants, privacy matters, performance management, family and medical leaves, disability accommodations, sexual harassment, wage and hour compliance, independent contractor misclassification and employment separations. She also regularly represents employers before federal and state courts and administrative agencies in matters involving allegations of employment discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract, workplace torts, and wage and hour violations on an individual and class action basis, as well as non-competes and disputes involving confidential information.

Q: I understand the New York Department of Labor recently released guidance interpreting the New York State Sick Leave Law. What are the key takeaways? Did the guidance answer the questions left open by the legislation?

A: As discussed in our previous post, the New York Sick Leave Law (NYSLL) went into effect on September 30 for accrual purposes, and employees may start using the sick leave on January 1, 2021. The New York Department of Labor recently issued general guidance on its website, and also issued an FAQ document (referred to together as “guidance” for purposes of this post).

Despite the volume of material released, the guidance does not clearly address most of the key questions left open by the NYSLL.  Instead, the guidance focuses on topics already covered in the text of the law (e.g., the definition of family member) and on relatively straightforward questions, such as whether an individual may use sick leave for routine dentist and eye doctor appointments (which is allowed because those are considered preventative medical care).


Continue Reading New York Releases Guidance on Paid Sick Leave; Key Questions Remain Unanswered

Q: I heard New York State recently enacted another sick leave law. I thought New York already enacted a COVID-19 sick leave law back in March. How is this new one different?

A: Effective September 30, 2020, New York will have two separate sick leave laws: one specific to COVID-19 (NY COVID-19 Sick Leave Law), and one that is general (New York Sick Leave Law). The covered reasons for leave are more expansive under the New York Sick Leave Law. In addition, unlike the NY COVID-19 Sick Leave Law, which is expected to expire at the end of the pandemic, the New York Sick Leave Law is expected to be permanent.

While employees start accruing New York Sick Leave on September 30, 2020, they may not use the sick leave until January 1, 2021.
Continue Reading New York Sick Leave Goes Into Effect on September 30, 2020

Q: My Company’s standard employment settlement agreement includes a no-rehire provision. Can I continue to include that provision for California employees?

A: If the agreement settles an employment dispute with an “aggrieved person,” you may no longer include a no re-hire provision in the agreement for California employees. Assembly Bill No. 749 (“AB 749”), which amends the California Code of Civil Procedure, became effective January 1, 2020 and provides that if an unlawful no-rehire provision is included in a settlement agreement, the provision is void as a matter of law. An “aggrieved person” is defined as a person who has filed a claim against the employer in court, before an administrative agency, in an alternative dispute forum, or through the employer’s internal complaint process.
Continue Reading California Now Prohibits No-Rehire Provisions in Certain Employee Settlement Agreements

Q: I heard New York prohibits employers from discriminating based on hairstyle. What does that mean?

A: In July 2019, New York State passed legislation that amended the definition of race under the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and

Q: I am a New York employer. What are the key parts of the new amendments to the New York Human Rights law and when do they go into effect?

A.  As we detailed in an earlier post, New York state recently passed a bill that makes numerous changes to the New York Human Rights Act (“NYHRL”). Governor Cuomo signed the bill on August 12, 2019, and most of the amendments go into effect on October 11, 2019.
Continue Reading New York Human Rights Law Amendments Effective October 12, 2019

Q: I am a New York employer. What should I know about the recent amendments to the New York Human Rights Law?

A: In June 2019, New York State approved a bill that makes numerous changes to the New York Human Rights Law (“NYHRL”), governing discrimination and harassment.  Governor Cuomo has not yet signed the bill, but is expected to shortly.

As explained in more detail below, the legislation significantly increases the NYHRL’s coverage by expanding the definitions of “harassment” and “employer.” The legislation also prohibits non-disclosure clauses in any settlement agreement involving discrimination allegations. Finally, the legislation expands employers’ sexual harassment training obligations, and extends the statute of limitations for filing sexual harassment claims with the New York State Division on Human Rights to three years.
Continue Reading New York Enacts Broad Changes to New York Human Rights Law

Q: I heard New York City is banning employers from doing pre-employment drug testing for marijuana. What do I need to know?

A: Effective May 10, 2020, New York City employers are prohibited from testing prospective employees for marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols (the active ingredient in marijuana) as a condition of employment.  The law applies to all prospective employees in New York City, regardless of whether the employer is located in New York City.
Continue Reading New York City Passes Law Prohibiting Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing

Q:  My company offers floating holidays to employees.  Can we have a “use it or lose it” policy for unused floating holidays?  Do they have to be paid out at termination?  What about personal days?

A.  Like many wage and hour questions, the treatment of floating holidays and personal days is governed by state law. As explained in more detail below, in most states, treatment of floating holidays and personal days is governed by the employer’s policy.  However, in California, treatment is governed by state law.
Continue Reading The Importance of Clear Floating Holidays and Personal Days Policies