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03 Aug

July 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

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New York Supreme Court Enforces Anti-Mandatory Arbitration Law

What happened?
The New York Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”) 7515, New York’s anti-mandatory arbitration law.

What are the details?
On July 30, 2020, the New York Supreme Court denied a motion to compel arbitration and enforced CPLR 7515 in Andowah Newton v. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc., Sup, Ct., N.Y. County, July 13, 2020,. This resulted in the arbitration agreement that the employee had signed becoming null and void. The defendant had claimed that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) would allow the arbitration agreement to be enforceable and that it would supersede the state’s CPLR. The court ruled that the FAA is only applicable to matters of commerce and that sexual harassment and employment discrimination cannot, by their very nature, be matters of commerce.

A more detailed breakdown of the case can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in New York should review their mandatory arbitration agreements. If the arbitration agreements have clauses regarding sexual harassment and/or employment discrimination, they should seek legal counsel to ensure the agreements are in compliance with CPLR 7515.

Summary of Laws with Upcoming Effective Dates

Sexual Harassment Claims
Effective August 12, 2020, the statute of limitations is extended from one year to three years for employees to file sexual harassment complaints with the New York Division on Human Rights.

New York City Sexual Harassment Training
In New York City’s Commission on Human Rights guidance regarding an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) effective January 11,

2020, which expanded protections under the law to independent contractors and freelancers, employers are now required to provide certain independent contractors and freelancers with sexual harassment prevention training in accordance with the NYCHRL. Similar to employees and interns, independent contractors must receive this training if they work for an employer of 15 or more people, work more than 80 hours in a calendar year, and work for at least 90 days.

Suffolk County Criminal Background
Effective August 25, 2020, employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s prior criminal convictions during the application process or before a first interview.

The law allows employers to inquire about prior criminal convictions when:

  • The employer is hiring for licensed trades or professions (including interns and apprentices) and asks applicants the same questions asked by the trade or professional licensing body in accordance with state law.
  • Certain convictions under or violations of state or federal law prohibit employment in that position.
  • The inquiries are authorized by law.

The restrictions do not apply to certain public employers, private schools, and private service providers of direct services specific to the care or supervision of children, young adults, senior citizens, or the physically or mentally disabled.

Paid Sick Leave
Effective September 30, 2020, New York’s statewide paid sick leave law requires that employers with 100 or more employees provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year, and employers with fewer than 100 employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, except employers with fewer than four employees and a net income of less than $1 million, whom can provide sick leave as unpaid.

Employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked beginning September 30, 2020 or when employment begins, whichever is later. Employers are not required to allow use of sick leave until January 1, 2021.

Unused sick leave must be carried over to the next calendar year, but the employer may limit the amount of sick leave that may be used in a calendar year to 40 hours (employers with fewer than 100 employees) and 56 hours (employers with 100 or more employees).

Sick leave may be used for the employee’s or employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; medical diagnosis, care or treatment; and preventive medical care. It can also be used for an absence for various reasons when the employee or employee’s family member has been the victim of domestic abuse, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.

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