SDNY Vacates DOL Regulations Implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On August 3, 2020, the Southern District of New York’s August 3, 2020, ruling in New York v. U.S. Department of Labor, et al., No. 1:20-cv-03020 vacated portions of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The following Q&A details the many ways in which the ruling will impact employers, including which DOL regulations were struck down by the order, the conditions under which employees can take FFCRA leave and the emergence of FFCRA-related lawsuits.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

Legal Considerations for Reopening the Workplace

On March 18, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted Executive Order 202.6, temporarily closing all nonessential businesses in response to the coronavirus outbreak. In late April, Governor Cuomo issued guidance announcing a phased approach to reopening businesses that requires regions across New York State to satisfy seven criteria involving a drop in the infection rate, increased capacity in healthcare systems, increased ability to administer diagnostic tests and isolate new cases, and a capacity to implement contact tracing. With eight out of the state’s ten regions satisfying Governor Cuomo’s criteria, municipalities and businesses around the state prepare to return to work.

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COVID-19: New York Updates as of March 22, 2020

Overview of Certain Restrictions:

Already In Place by March 20, 2020 In-person workforce reduction by 50%, except for essential businesses.

All common portions of retail shopping malls with an excess of 100,000 square feet of retail space available for lease must close, unless they have a separate exclusive entrance. Essential businesses exempt.

Closure of indoor and outdoor public amusement, video lottery or casino gaming, gyms, fitness centers or classes, and movie theaters.

By March 21, 2020 at 8 p.m. In person workforce reduction by 75%, except for essential businesses.

All barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing salons, nail salons, hair removal services and related personal care services must close.

By March 22, 2020 at 8 p.m. 100% of the New York workforce must stay home, except for essential businesses.

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New York City Human Rights Law’s Protections Extend Beyond the Big Apple

The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) provides employees with among the most expansive protections from workplace discrimination of any legislation in the country. In certain respects, the NYCHRL requires plaintiffs to satisfy lower standards to establish claims than do other anti-discrimination laws. The NYCHRL also recognizes more protected characteristics than many other laws and enables prevailing plaintiffs to recover extensive damages. These are among the reasons that employers should take note of a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Rinsky v. Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., 2019 WL 1091046 (1st Cir. Mar. 8, 2019), which illustrates the reach of the NYCHRL beyond the borders of New York City.

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Get Ready New York Employers: Threshold Salaries for Exempt Employees Are Going Up

The Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law include exemptions from overtime and minimum wage requirements for employees holding certain executive and administrative positions. In order to qualify for the executive or administrative exemption, an employee must, among other things, earn at least the minimum threshold salary. Under federal law, the current minimum threshold salary is $455 per week ($23,660 per year). However, the minimum threshold salary is higher under New York law and, as of December 31, 2018, is scheduled to rise even higher.

The new minimum thresholds vary depending on the size of the employer and the employee’s work location, as set forth below.

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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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