Anti-Harassment Training Update for New York Employers: Are You Compliant?

In April, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a sweeping budget bill, which included several major amendments to the New York Human Rights Law (NYHRL). One of the most significant aspects of the bill was the mandate that New York employers adopt robust sexual harassment policies as well as provide mandatory anti-sexual harassment training to all employees, not just managers. Specifically, the law requires employers with four (4) or more employees to adopt sexual harassment policies and training consistent with a model policy and model training prepared jointly by the Commissioner of Labor and the New York State Human Rights Division.

That law became effective on October 9, 2018, and New York state has finally released the model materials, an online “Toolkit for Employers”, including a model sexual harassment policy, a model complaint form, and a model interactive training program. All of the state’s model materials are accessible to employers via a website set up by the government.

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Do Your Employees Use Cell Phones for Work While Driving?

Many employers have policies regarding the use of cell phones while driving, including the requirement to use the car’s hands-free, Bluetooth phone system, and abide by all applicable laws. But what happens when an employee still abides by the employer’s policy, is involved in a car accident, and causes injuries to a third party? Can the employer be held liable under the theory of respondeat superior?

Well, it depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. By way of background, respondeat superior means that an employer is vicariously liable for the torts of its employees when these employees commit the wrongful acts within the scope of their employment. California courts have held that the determination of whether an employee has acted within the scope of employment is a question of fact, but it also can be a question of law in circumstances where the facts cannot be disputed and there can be no conflicting inferences possible.

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Delaware Joins Growing List of States Passing Anti-Harassment Legislation

Delaware is the latest state to mandate that employers provide anti-harassment training to employees. Delaware joins New York, California, Connecticut, and Maine as states that require employers to provide such training. The new law amends the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act (“DDEA”), and takes effect on January 1, 2019.

While the DDEA already prohibited discrimination based on sex, the recent amendments are devoted to prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. The new law amends the DDEA to define sexual harassment and provides the same process used for Title VII violations with regard to exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to filing a private lawsuit.

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U.S. Department of Labor Extends Expiration of FMLA Forms Through August 2021

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) Wage and Hour Division recently announced that its model Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) notices and certification forms are valid for another three years, until August 31, 2021. There is nothing new in the updated model FMLA forms, other than a new expiration date, which is located on the top right corner of the forms.

Employers who use the DOL’s model FMLA forms can access them at the following links:

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New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Law Becomes Effective on October 29, 2018

In May 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy made good on a campaign promise when he signed into law the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act (the “Act”). New Jersey is one of ten states that require employers to provide paid sick leave, joining Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Before the state passed the Act, more than a dozen New Jersey municipalities had enacted their own paid sick leave laws, creating confusion for employers conducting business throughout New Jersey. The Act now preempts these local laws and bars municipalities from passing their own paid sick leave laws. The preemption aspect of the Act is welcome news for employers because they will only have to comply with the Act, rather than a patchwork of local laws. Here are some important components of the Act that employers should be aware of before its effective date on October 29.

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Westchester County’s Salary History Ban Takes Effect July 9, 2018

Westchester County’s salary history ban, signed on Equal Pay Day in April 2018, took effect on July 9, 2018. The law amends the Westchester County Human Rights Law, and makes it unlawful for an employer, including labor organizations and employment agencies or “agents” thereof, to:

  • rely on the wage history of a prospective employee from any current or former employer in determining wages; and
  • request or require as a condition of being interviewed, as a condition of being considered for an offer of employment, or as a condition of employment, that a prospective employee disclose wage history information.

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