New York Issues Guidance on Use of Sick Leave and Paid Family Leave for COVID-19

New York Issues Guidance on Use of Sick Leave and Paid Family Leave for COVID-19

As discussed previously, New York recently passed a COVID-19 sick leave law that provides job protection and paid leave for employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 (“COVID-19 quarantine leave” or “quarantine leave”). New York State has since published guidance (“Guidance”) and FAQs relating to the COVID-19 sick leave law (“FAQs”), which discuss, among other things, how employees may be compensated under the new law, through a combination of benefits that include COVID-19 sick leave, New York’s Paid Family Leave (PFL), and short-term disability (DBL) benefits while in quarantine. Under the COVID-19 sick leave law, as clarified by the Guidance and FAQs: An employee who works for a small employer – one with ten or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020 (with a net income of less than $1 million in the prior tax year) – and is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, department of health, local board of health, or any other government entity authorized to issue such an order due to COVID-19 (“quarantine order”) is entitled to unpaid sick leave until the termination of...

New Jersey Supreme Court Allows Disability Discrimination Claim Brought by Medical Marijuana User Employee to Move Forward

New Jersey Supreme Court Allows Disability Discrimination Claim Brought by Medical Marijuana User Employee to Move Forward

Last month, New Jersey’s high court ruled in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc. that an employee’s disability discrimination claim brought under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), arising from being terminated for his use of medical marijuana, was not barred by the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA), and that he had sufficiently stated his claim to survive a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff, a funeral director, brought suit against defendant-employer/Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc. (“Carriage”), and others, based on, among other things, allegations that defendants violated the LAD by terminating him due to his disability and failing to accommodate him, as a result of his lawful use of medical marijuana for treatment of his cancer, as permitted by the CUMMA and in accordance with his physician’s treatment plan. Defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint, and the trial court granted the motion, with prejudice, finding plaintiff was lawfully terminated for violating Carriage’s drug use policy after a positive drug test, given to him by his employer after plaintiff’s car was struck by another vehicle while plaintiff was driving for work purposes. In reaching its decision, the trial court relied, in part, on the CUMMA’s declaration that employers are...

EEOC and NJ’s DCR Publish COVID-19 Guidance

EEOC and NJ’s DCR Publish COVID-19 Guidance

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) have joined a growing number of governmental agencies and public health organizations in issuing specific COVID-19 related guidance. The EEOC and DCR guidance each includes a series of frequently asked questions directed at ensuring compliance with federal and state anti-discrimination laws in the treatment of individuals affected by the novel coronavirus, in connection with employment, housing, and places of public accommodation. The DCR guidance, “Civil Rights and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions,” reminds employers, housing providers, and places of public accommodation of their obligations under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA). Among the topics covered by the DCR, the guidance: Reminds employers that the prohibitions against discrimination and harassment because of an LAD-protected characteristic apply even when the conduct at issue “stems from concerns related to COVID-19.” The DCR explains that firing an employee who is perceived to have a disability related to COVID-19 is unlawful. In addition, behavior such as referring to COVID-19 as the “the Chinese virus” or harassing employees of East Asian heritage by claiming Asian people caused COVID-19 is expressly prohibited, and...

Governor Cuomo Takes Action in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Governor Cuomo Takes Action in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

New York now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, and, unfortunately, the number continues to increase on a daily basis. In efforts to contain the spread of the virus and support those employees who have been impacted, Governor Cuomo and the legislature have acted swiftly to enact responsive laws. Relief for Employees on Orders of Quarantine or Isolation On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law Senate Bill S809/ Assembly Bill A10153, which provides job protection and paid leave for New York employees subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation issued by the State of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such orders due to COVID-19. The law is effective immediately and provides sick leave to affected employees as follows: Employers with ten or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020 and a net income less than $1 million must provide affected employees with unpaid sick leave, along with job protection for the duration of the quarantine or isolation order and must provide those employees with access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the...

New Jersey Amends Its WARN Act to Extend Advance Notice and Require Severance Pay

New Jersey Amends Its WARN Act to Extend Advance Notice and Require Severance Pay

The New Jersey “Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act” (“NJ WARN Act” or “Act”), which requires covered employers to provide employees (and designated state and local government officials) with advance notice of covered “mass layoffs,” the shutdown of an establishment, or transfers of operations, was recently amended to place more onerous obligations on New Jersey employers. Senate Bill 3170, which becomes effective July 19, 2020, requires employers to provide 90 days’ (instead of 60 days’) notice to affected employees. The Act also contains enhanced severance provisions, requiring employers to pay severance to all affected employees, even those who receive proper notice under the Act. As a preliminary matter, many of the NJ WARN Act’s definitions have been amended, greatly expanding the Act’s reach. For example, “employer” is now more broadly defined to include “any individual, partnership, association, corporation, or any person or group of persons acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee, and includes any person who, directly or indirectly, owns and operates the nominal employer, or owns a corporate subsidiary that, directly or indirectly, owns and operates the nominal employer or makes the decision responsible for the employment action...

NYC Council Passes Legislation Barring Pre-employment Marijuana Testing

NYC Council Passes Legislation Barring Pre-employment Marijuana Testing

On April 9, 2019, the New York City legislature passed legislation that would amend Section 8-107 of the New York City Administrative Code to prohibit employers from testing job applicants for marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) – the active ingredient in marijuana. Specifically, the law states, “it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” The legislation creates an exception for individuals who apply to specifically defined roles; such as police officers or peace officers, those requiring a commercial driver’s license, those requiring the supervision or care of children, medical patients, or other vulnerable persons, and those with the “potential to significantly impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public.” Furthermore, the law would not apply to drug testing that is required pursuant to: (a) regulations promulgated by the federal department of transportation; (b) federal contracts; (c) a federal or state law, regulation, or order that requires drug testing of prospective employees for purposes of safety or security; or (d) a collective...

2019 Rings in Further Protections for Delaware and Philadelphia Employees

2019 Rings in Further Protections for Delaware and Philadelphia Employees

Before 2018 wrapped up, the year of the #MeToo movement, the Delaware and Philadelphia legislatures worked to ensure the passage of employee-friendly legislation. While Delaware’s new law focuses on sexual harassment,  Philadelphia has turned its focus on the work schedules for those employed in service industries. Delaware, like many other states in 2018, passed legislation to strengthen workplace harassment laws. The legislation was signed into law in August 2018, and went into effect on January 1, 2019. Delaware’s Discrimination in Employment Act has now been amended to include provisions specifically dedicated to sexual harassment that apply to employers with at least four employees in the state. It should be noted that Delaware’s law includes unpaid interns, applicants, joint employees and apprentices within its definition of employee. In addition to defining sexual harassment, the law provides that employers will be liable for sexual harassment if: (1) A supervisor’s sexual harassment results in a negative employment action of an employee; (2) The employer knew or should have known of a non-supervisory employee’s sexual harassment of an employee and failed to take appropriate corrective measures; or (3) A negative employment action is taken against an employee in retaliation for the employee filing a...

New Jersey Senate Labor Committee Amends Bill Prohibiting Use of Nondisclosure Provisions in Employment and Settlement Agreements

New Jersey Senate Labor Committee Amends Bill Prohibiting Use of Nondisclosure Provisions in Employment and Settlement Agreements

In response to the recent spotlight on sexual abuse and harassment claims in the workplace and the #MeToo movement, the federal government and numerous states, including New Jersey, have focused attention on the use of nondisclosure provisions in settlement agreements involving claims of sexual harassment and assault. As we previously reported, the Tax Cuts and Job Bills Act was passed in December 2017 and includes a provision that bars any settlement or payment related to claims of sexual harassment or sexual abuse from being deducted as a business expense if the payments are subject to a nondisclosure agreement. While the federal tax bill aims to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements, the proposed New Jersey legislation initially provided an outright ban on such agreements. At the time of its first introduction during the prior legislative session in December 2017, Senator Loretta Weinberg’s proposed bill prohibited New Jersey employers from including “a provision in any employment contract or agreement which has the purpose or effect of concealing the details relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment.” The bill is unique because it is not limited to sexual harassment or abuse claims, but rather would apply to any type of discrimination,...

Supreme Court Holds FLSA Overtime Exemptions Not to be Construed Narrowly

Supreme Court Holds FLSA Overtime Exemptions Not to be Construed Narrowly

On April 2, 2018, in Encino Motorcars, LLC, v. Navarro, the Supreme Court held that auto service advisors – those who “interact with customers and sell them services for their vehicles” – are exempt from the overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“the FLSA”). The Court’s decision will certainly affect auto service advisors, but its impact will not be limited to the auto dealership industry. The crux of the Court’s decision centered around Section 13(b)(10)(A) of the FLSA, which states that “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles” is exempt from the FLSA overtime requirement. In a 5-4 decision, the majority found that a service advisor is “obviously a salesman” under the ordinary meaning of salesman, given that a salesman sells goods or services and service advisors “sell [customers] services for their vehicles.” The Court also found that service advisors are “primarily engaged in . . . servicing automobiles” due to their integral involvement in the servicing process. Thus, the Court held that sales advisors are exempt from the FLSA overtime pay requirement under Section 13(b)(10)(A). Significantly, in reaching its conclusion, the majority departed from the Supreme Court’s longstanding principle that FLSA...

DOL Adopts Primary Beneficiary Test to Determine Intern Status Under Wage Hour Law

DOL Adopts Primary Beneficiary Test to Determine Intern Status Under Wage Hour Law

On January 5, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) withdrew its six-factor test, established by a 2010 DOL guidance, used to determine whether interns and students are considered employees and, thus, covered by the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), and, in its place, adopted a seven-factor test – listed in Fact Sheet 71 – applied by the Second Circuit in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. The abandoned six-factor test, issued under the Obama Administration, required that all of the criteria be met in order to find that an intern is not an employee under the FLSA. In 2015, the Second Circuit disregarded the DOL test in the Glatt ruling. In deciding against the unpaid interns at Fox Searchlight, the Second Circuit held that the six-factor test was too rigid. Subsequently, the Second Circuit ruled that in determining whether interns are classified as employees under the FLSA, the “economic reality” between the intern and the employer should be evaluated to determine which party is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship. The Second Circuit applied a non-exhaustive list of seven factors to use in the “primary beneficiary” test, but cautioned that “[a]pplying these considerations requires weighing and balancing all of the...