New York News & Analysis

  • Sticks and stones: hostile work environment claims under the ADA

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has long allowed an employee to establish discrimination through the existence of a "hostile work environment." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, whose decisions control in New York, has recently recognized a hostile work environment claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Joining its "sister Circuits," the Second Circuit held that a disabled employee could allege his coworkers' taunts and mockery amounted to a hostile work environment prohibited by law. While the Second Circuit didn't hold the coworkers' alleged words and actions were illegal under the ADA, it held open the possibility that sufficiently "severe and pervasive" maltreatment may subject an employer to liability under the ADA.

  • U.S. DOL's overtime 'do-over'

    In May 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) under the Obama administration released overtime rules that more than doubled the minimum salaried-exempt threshold for "white-collar" and other salaried-exempt employees. The 2016 final overtime rules increased the minimum salary threshold for administrative, executive, or professional (APE) employees from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests immediately launched lawsuits and obtained a stay (or hold) on the rules' implementation from a U.S. district court in Texas. Three years later, the DOL—now under the Trump administration—is again attempting to modify the minimum salary threshold for salaried-exempt employees, albeit in a less drastic fashion.

  • Romance at work: Is ignorance really bliss?

    Relationships between coworkers are hardly uncommon. A 2016 survey found 37 percent of employees had dated a coworker and 23 percent reported they had dated a superior. With these stats, employers should be justifiably concerned that a workplace romance may lead to sexual harassment or retaliation allegations—or even litigation.

  • Know the legal issues you face when employees work past 65

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about one-third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 69 are still employed. That number has been steadily rising, and it's expected to reach 36 percent over the next five years.

  • Walmart greeter fiasco provides important employment lessons

    Have you ever walked into a Walmart and been greeted by an employee—frequently disabled or elderly—who seemed to have no responsibilities other than to welcome customers to the store? Did you ever wonder what the point of the position was or why a corporation the size of Walmart would pay so many people to do it?

  • Agency Action

    DOL announces new compliance assistance tool. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in February announced the launch of an enhanced electronic version of the Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new online version of Wage and Hour Division (WHD) publications aims to assist employers and workers with a resource that provides basic WHD information as well as links to other resources. The WHD established the electronic guide as part of its efforts to modernize compliance assistance materials and provide accessible information to guide compliance. The tool offers a new design—reformatted for laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices—and provides additional resources and related information, including plain-language videos.

  • Workplace Trends

    Most professionals negotiate salary offers, survey finds. Research from staffing firm Robert Half finds that 55% of professionals surveyed tried to negotiate a higher salary with their last employment offer, a 16-point jump from a similar survey released in 2018. Among workers in the 28 U.S. cities polled, Miami, San Diego, and San Francisco had the most respondents who asked for more pay, while Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Cleveland had the fewest. A separate survey showed that 70% of senior managers said they expect some back-and-forth on salary. About six in 10 are more open to negotiating compensation than they were a year ago.

  • NYC prohibits 'hairstyle' discrimination

    The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) prohibits employers with four or more employees from engaging in unlawful discrimination, including discrimination based on race and ethnicity. On February 18, 2019, the New York City Human Rights Commission (NYCHRC) released guidance stating discrimination based on an individual's hairstyle would amount to unlawful bias under the NYCHRL. Because the NYCHRL may apply to employers located both within and outside NYC, you should understand how this new guidance may affect you.

  • Updates to New York state paid family leave in 2019

    By now, most private-sector employers in New York know the state paid family leave (PFL) law went into effect last year on January 1, 2018. The PFL law provides an increasing benefit over a number of years. Starting January 1, 2019, the PFL benefit became more generous than the 2018 benefit. The law also now covers more medical conditions. Is your PFL benefit and policy compliant? Read on to see and also to find out why Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed the addition of bereavement leave to the PFL law.

  • Second Circuit rules cosmetology students are not employees

    In 2015, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals (whose decisions control in New York) addressed whether temporary interns at Fox studios were employees. In Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., the appeals court used a new test looking at who "primarily benefited" from the work relationship. It recently issued another decision in which it addressed whether cosmetology students at a for-profit school, who provide services to customers, were employees who should be paid for the work performed or were student-interns who need not be paid.