New York News & Analysis

  • Discord over foreign workers has long history, elusive solution

    The fate of foreign workers in the United States remains up in the air amid the worldwide public health crisis and political disputes related to immigration and foreign worker programs. The COVID-19 pandemic had already slowed or stopped authorization of many foreign workers when the Trump administration in June restricted visas for some classes of foreign workers. The administration's action came on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that was at least a temporary win for certain young immigrant workers already in the United States. Then President Donald Trump hinted at more change on the way for those immigrants. So, the signals are mixed, making uncertainty the key word for foreign workers and their employers.

  • Adapt or die? Looking ahead to a post-COVID workplace

    It didn't take a worldwide public health crisis to pique people's curiosity about what the workplace of the future will look like. Managers and frontline staff alike have always pondered the best designs for productivity, efficiency, and safety. But COVID-19 has changed everything. The workplaces that are reopening in many cases have a different look and feel than anyone expected prepandemic. Temperature checks at building entrances, plexiglass barriers, spaced-out desks, and occupancy limits for elevators are just a few of the changes now in place in many workplaces. Some of the modifications may be short-lived, but experts, including designers and futurists, expect others will be long-term or even permanent.

  • U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of religious employers, Trump administration

    On July 8, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases, both by 7-2 votes, involving religion's impact on employment. First, the Court clarified the applicability of the ministerial exemption for religious schools and organizations from the federal antidiscrimination laws. Second, the Court upheld two Trump administration interim rules stating employers with sincerely held religious beliefs or moral objections to providing insurance coverage or payments for contraceptive services can't be required to offer the coverage or payments.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Poll shows confidence in remote work. A recent edition of LinkedIn's Workforce Confidence Index released in May gives HR professionals food for thought as they consider the future. The survey shows that 55% of respondents think their industry can be effective when people work remotely. Optimism is strongest in such fields as software, finance, and media, a LinkedIn blog post said. But remote work is a "polarizing topic" in other sectors in which in-person interaction is crucial, according to the blog. Forty-eight percent of respondents in health care were optimistic about remote work, and 41% in manufacturing were keen on the idea. The most resistance was noted in retail, with just 29% of insiders thinking their industry could thrive with remote work. The poll included 5,447 LinkedIn members and covered the week of April 27 to May 3.

  • Federal Watch

    DOL offering unemployment fraud prevention resources. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued updated resources for employers, employees, and states to prevent fraud or misuse in the unemployment insurance system, including the unemployment insurance programs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The DOL in May released resources that include lists of fraud hotlines and frequently asked questions. The agency reminded employers and employees of their obligations to report fraud, waste, or abuse. Examples of employer fraud include acting to avoid tax liability and establishing fictitious employer accounts to enable fraudulent claims, the DOL said. Claimant fraud may include knowingly submitting false information, knowingly continuing to collect benefits when ineligible, certifying for benefits under state law while not being able and available to work, or intentionally collecting full benefits while not reporting wages or income.

  • Looking ahead after pandemic: Employers likely to see enduring change

    What's the world of work going to look like in the weeks and months ahead? Some workplaces in some parts of the country will be farther along the road to recovery than others, but few will go back to being just like they were before words like coronavirus, pandemic, and COVID-19 became all-consuming thoughts. The months of business shutdowns, remote work, and uncertainty have changed employee attitudes and employer practices—changes that are important for management to understand as employers move forward.

  • Racial tension coupled with COVID anxiety challenging workplaces in new ways

    It has been a long and tragic spring and summer for employers as well as society at large. The coronavirus pandemic sent legions of workers to the unemployment rolls, and others had to learn how to do their jobs remotely—all while dealing with the threat of an all-too-often deadly disease. Then, on May 25, came news of another black person dying in police custody, the latest in a string of such deaths. The viral video of George Floyd handcuffed on the ground with a white officer's knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes sparked outrage that erupted in massive protests across the country and abroad. Inequality and prejudice—not new issues in the workplace—came to the forefront, leaving many employers wondering what actions they should take.

  • Employers play key role in national reckoning on racial disparities

    The Black Lives Matter movement emerged in 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The recent killings of George Floyd and others have resulted in the movement expanding beyond the issues of law enforcement and race—they've resulted in a national reckoning on racial disparities in several regards, including income, education, and healthcare. Statues are coming down, names of forts, buildings, and highways are changing, and employers in all sectors have pledged financial support to confront the inequalities. Yet, the greatest responsibility for addressing the disparities will be for employers to assess their policies and practices. Illegal discrimination is hard to prove. But, the absence of proven bias doesn't necessarily mean the presence of equal opportunity.

  • Institute protocols to avoid unsafe workplace liability

    As businesses reopen after the lifting of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, employers are grasping with how to make their workplaces as safe as possible for their employees. Making the task especially difficult are the constant changes in government regulations deeming certain businesses as essential and limiting the extent to which they may operate. Furthermore, employers are faced with the possibility of being sued if an employee contracts the coronavirus at the workplace. Already, businesses across the country are facing lawsuits alleging they failed to maintain safe work environments and safety protocols designed to prevent or limit their employees' exposure to the virus.

  • Federal Watch

    DOL issues new wage and hour opinion letters. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced in late June five new opinion letters addressing compliance issues related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The opinion letters are FLSA2020-6, addressing whether salespeople who travel to different locations to sell products using their employers mobile assets qualify for the outside sales exemption; FLSA2020-7, addressing whether an auto manufacturers direct payments to an auto dealerships employee may count toward the dealerships minimum wage obligation; FLSA2020-8, addressing whether salespeople who set up displays and perform demonstrations at retail locations not owned, operated, or controlled by their employer to sell the employers products qualify for the outside sales exemption; FLSA2020-9, addressing whether emergency-management coordinators employed by a county government qualify for administrative exemptions; and FLSA2020-10, addressing the application of the retail or service commission sales exemption.