New Jersey Expands Protections to Nursing Mothers

The New Jersey Legislature recently passed a bill amending the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) to include breastfeeding as a protected category. The law took effect immediately after it was signed into law by former Governor Christie on January 8, 2018.

Breastfeeding Protections under the NJLAD

Under the amended law, upon request, employers must provide nursing mothers with reasonable breaks during the workday and a suitable private location (other than a toilet stall) close to the employee’s work area to express breast milk for her infant child as a reasonable accommodation, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer’s business operations. In determining whether an accommodation would impose an undue hardship, the following factors are to be considered:

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NLRB Interest Rate Will Increase to Five Percent

Board awards in unfair labor practice cases are usually premised in a make-whole remedy which, in the case of back-pay awards for example, include interest. Interest has been part of the remedy for decades. More recently, daily compound interest became the rule. The Board can reset the rate quarterly using the short-term federal rate plus three percent, which is the rate the IRS uses for underpayment of taxes. For several years, the rate was three or four percent, given the state of the economy. Interest awards can really add up, especially when a make-whole remedy impacts a large workforce and interest accrues over the many  years it can take for final decision in a ULP case. As such, interest is normally a factor in litigation and settlement of these cases.

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New York City Employers Must Provide Temporary Work Schedule Changes to Employees for “Personal Events” Beginning July 18, 2018

On January 19, 2018, New York City adopted Int. 1399-A (“Law”) which requires employers to provide most city-based employees with up to two temporary schedule changes per calendar year due to a “personal event.” The Law provides employers and employees a defined process about how to discuss schedule change requests, and also provides measures to protect employees from retaliation as a result of making a request for a temporary schedule change for a personal event. This Law becomes effective on July 18, 2018.

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Technical Foul – Your March Madness Office Bracket May Be Illegal

March Madness has arrived!  The 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournaments tip-off March 15 and continue through the Women’s and Men’s National Championship Games on April 1 and 2 respectively. With this, comes the American tradition of companies and their employees betting on tournament outcomes through office bracket pools.      

As lawyers, we have to point out that your company’s March Madness pool is very likely illegal under at least three federal gambling laws (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, and the Uniform Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) and many state laws.  And we would be remiss to not mention that there is a parade of horribles that could happen from permitting such workplace wagering. 

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U.S. Department of Labor Announces New “PAID” Program for Settling FLSA Claims

On March 6, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) announced a new pilot program through which employers may settle potential overtime and minimum wage claims under the FLSA by paying back pay owed to the affected employee(s), but without paying civil penalties or liquidated damages.  The Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program will be available for six months, after which the Department will evaluate the viability of the program.  This program is purely voluntary, both for employers, in that they would need to self-disclose the violation(s) to the WHD, and employees, who may choose to accept the back pay being offered by the employer as full settlement of the potential claim, or decline the offer and file suit, thus preserving the right to recover liquidated damages if successful.  If the employee chooses to accept the back pay, and thus settle the potential claim by signing a release of that claim, the WHD will only approve a release if it is tailored to the identified violations and the time period covered by the back wages payment.  Employers are not eligible for the program if they are already under investigation by the WHD, involved in litigation or arbitration regarding the particular claim, or the employee has already communicated an interest in litigating or settling the issue.  Claims that could be resolved through this program include misclassification of employees as exempt from overtime or failure to pay for “off the clock” work.

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Congress Attempts to Offer Relief to Businesses Faced with ADA Access Lawsuits

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires “places of public accommodation,” such as retail businesses and restaurants, to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Common architectural features that permit access include handicap parking, curb cuts, wheelchair ramps and other design modifications. The ADA provides a private right of action to force a non-compliant establishment to make the necessary physical alterations to allow access. If the lawsuit is successful, the ADA provides for reasonable attorneys’ fees—a prospect that has fueled the proliferation of ADA lawsuits.

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