In an expansion of the Fair Workweek Law, the New York City Council has passed legislation permitting quick-service restaurant employers to terminate employees only for just cause or a bona fide economic reason. These heightened requirements effectively eliminate the at-will status of industry employees and create a discipline structure similar to that bargained for by unionized workforces. With the new protections set to take effect in July, employers should begin drafting and implementing policies to comply with the new laws as soon as practicable.
New York City employers should review their existing drug-testing policies to confirm that they are in compliance with the new law taking effect May 10, 2020 that prohibits them from requiring prospective employees to submit to testing for the presence of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols (or THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana).
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.
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.
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.
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.