New York City is Blazing the Trail to Ban Marijuana Testing of Job Applicants

New York City is poised to ban employers from requiring prospective employees to undergo a drug test to detect for the presence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, as a condition of employment.

On April 9, 2019, the New York City Council approved a bill that would make New York City the first municipality to regulate pre-employment drug testing for marijuana, whether for medicinal or recreational purposes. The bill applies to both public and private employers operating in New York City. Although recreational marijuana is not yet legal in the State of New York (or in New York City), Governor Andrew Cuomo supports statewide legalization and this bill is viewed as an important step to achieve that goal.

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New York City’s New Lactation Room Law

Federal law requires most employers to provide reasonable break time to employees who need to express breast milk during the workday and to provide a place free from intrusion (not a bathroom) where an employee can express milk, unless doing so presents an undue hardship. Many states and localities have adopted similar lactation laws, in some cases providing rights beyond those afforded under federal law. New York City law currently requires that employers with four or more employees provide reasonable break time to employees who need to express breast milk during the work day and to make reasonable efforts to provide a private room to do so.

Effective March 18, 2019, New York City employers will have to ensure that the room provided for expressing milk is in reasonable proximity to the employee’s work area, has a refrigerator for storing break milk, an electrical outlet, a chair, and a surface on which to place a breast pump and other personal items. The lactation room must also have nearby access to running water. And if the lactation room is not solely used for expressing milk, then when the room is being used by an employee to express milk the employer must provide notice to other employees that the room is given preference for use as a lactation room.

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New York City Employers: Get Ready to Comply with the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act

As a reminder, the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (“Paid Safe/Sick Leave Law”) became effective on May 5, 2018. The Paid Safe/Sick Leave Law applies to all employers with five or more employees who work more than 80 hours a year in New York City and requires employers to provide up to 40 hours (5 days) of paid safe and sick leave. Employers with less than five employees must provide unpaid sick and safe leave. In order to notify employees about their rights under the Paid Safe/Sick Leave Law, New York City employers must distribute written notice to their employees on the first day of employment or by June 4, 2018. Employers can find the new Notice of Employee Rights on the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) website, available here. The DCA also provides the new notice in Spanish, Chinese and 24 other languages.

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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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Beware: NYC Ban on Asking for Salary History Effective on Halloween: Employers Receive Guidance on Implementation

As we wrote about in April, starting on October 31, 2017, a NYC law will make it unlawful for employers of any size to inquire about a job applicant’s salary history during the hiring process by either: (1) asking about compensation history on a job application or during the interview process; or (2) conducting internet or other searches, contacting prior employers or running background checks in an effort to determine the applicant’s compensation history. Employers can only use an applicant’s compensation history to build a job offer if the applicant “unprompted” and “willingly” discloses that information.

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Recruiting and “Off-Limits” Questions about Salary History – What Employers Need to Know

By October of 2017, NYC employers – and their recruiting agencies – will no longer be allowed to ask about an applicant’s salary and benefits history during the interview process due to a recent amendment to the NYC Human Rights Law. This law follows Executive Orders signed in November 2016 by Mayor de Blasio, and in January 2017 by Governor Cuomo, banning questions about salary history for NYC and NY state public-sector applicants prior to a conditional offer of employment. In addition, private employers in Philadelphia as of May 2017, and Massachusetts as of July 1, 2018, will also be banned from asking applicants about their compensation history. These laws are intended to help break the perpetuation of salary inequities by prohibiting reliance on prior, possibly inequitable compensation levels, as a means to set salaries and other compensation for incoming employees. Public Advocate Letitia James co-sponsored the NYC bill after a study conducted by her office found that women in New York earn $5.8 billion less in wages than men every year, or 87 cents for every dollar that men make, and the wage discrepancies were worse for minority females.

What does the NYC law prohibit?

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