New York News & Analysis

  • NYCCHR puts out new independent contractor, freelancer guidance

    In October 2019, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) was amended to extend its protections to independent contractors and freelancers. Under the amendments, the NYCHRL applies to employers of four or more individuals, including independent contractors, freelancers, interns, and the employer's parents, spouse, or children who work for the employer.

  • Getting Trumped: Court tosses out arbitrator's award based on violation of NDA

    Public policy generally favors the arbitration of disputes, and the right to arbitrate is protected by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). New York and federal courts rarely vacate (overturn) or modify arbitration awards. A court will normally vacate an arbitrator's award only if it violates public policy, is totally irrational, or exceeds the arbitrator's authority under the agreement to arbitrate.

  • Can you hear me now? Employer can't ban employees from using hearing aids

    Most employers know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) require them to provide reasonable accommodations that enable disabled employees to perform the essential functions of their jobs. But what about an inflexible ban on the use of certain medical or supportive devices based on safety concerns? The Appellate Division, First Department, recently found that an employer's long-standing ban on court officers' use of hearing aids violated the NYSHRL.

  • Political talk heating up at work? You have options

    In case you haven't noticed, it's an election year. And it's not just candidates sounding off on the campaign trail. Passionate—even angry—political talk also can spill into the workplace, leaving hurt feelings and lost productivity in its wake. You may feel wedged between the proverbial rock and a hard place as you try to keep the peace while striving to be respectful of employees who feel compelled to share their views. While no perfect strategy exists, you aren't helpless. Here are some ideas.

  • Legislative efforts taking on hairstyle discrimination

    Workplace discrimination based on hair? It may not be the first type of discrimination to come to mind as you strive to create fair and legally compliant workplaces, but hairstyle discrimination is beginning to get more attention. African Americans have noted that workplace appearance codes often insist on Eurocentric hairstyles. Styles that better conform to the natural hair texture of black people are often looked down on in the workplace. But that is starting to change, and the change includes legislation. California and New York have passed state laws prohibiting discrimination based on natural or protective hairstyles, and more states and local governments are considering similar measures.

  • ACA wends its way back to the Supreme Court

    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments on religious exemptions to the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) requirement that employers cover birth control in their healthcare plans. Sixteen attorneys general filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief with the Court in which they argued that forcing companies with religious objections to birth control to pay for it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Fighting labor shortage with charter buses. With the unemployment rate hitting historic lows, many employers are struggling to find workers. Package delivery giant FedEx is fighting the problem by turning to chartering buses to bring people in from areas with available workers. The Wall Street Journal featured FedExs program in an article that explains how the company buses workers to its Memphis, Tennessee, hub from areas hours away in Mississippi. The workers earn starting wages of $13.26 an hour, better wages than are available in their home area, where manufacturing jobs have been lost. The busing program runs year-round and was nearing its first anniversary when the article was published.

  • Federal Watch

    Bill gives paid parental leave to 2 million federal workers. A bill including a provision to grant federal workers up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave has passed as part of a larger defense bill backed by President Donald Trump. The bill passed the Senate on December 17 and had previously passed the House. Its expected to provide paid parental leave for more than 2 million federal workers and was backed by Ivanka Trump, the presidents daughter and a key adviser. The parental leave part of the bill was supported by many Democrats and opposed by many Republicans. It was one of the legislative compromises reached during the runup to the impeachment fight.

  • HR Technology

    Hiring platform releases code of ethics for using AI. Modern Hire, a platform aimed at enabling organizations to improve hiring experiences, has released a code of ethics regarding the ethical development and adoption of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in hiring. The code incorporates the following tenets: Modern Hire evaluates only information candidates knowingly provide, it will provide candidates with feedback whenever permitted by clients, it discloses to candidates how their data is being evaluated and used, and it rigorously develops and tests all scoring methodologies for its AI-powered hiring assessments and interviews. The company said its approach and code of ethics reflect a candidate-first, job-relevant approach to the use of technology.

  • Coronavirus craziness—managing sick employees during a pandemic

    Outbreaks of influenza and other viruses aren't unusual during the winter months. Once in a while, a particularly virulent viral strain captures the headlines. Such villains include the "Spanish flu" of 1918, SARS in 2002 and 2003, and H1N1 (the "swine flu") in 2009. Now, the coronavirus is grabbing public attention and causing widespread concern in the workplace, especially with employers that have workers who travel to China. Because employment laws generally aren't written with the Black Plague in mind, the prudent employer should have policies and practices that will work during both a deadly pandemic and a lesser flu.