- Posts by Christopher ShurAssociate
Attorney Chris Shur brings a client-focused and common sense approach to assisting employers in a wide variety of employment-related matters. He helps management navigate complex federal, state, and local employment laws by ...
On December 28, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law Senate Bill 9450, which added new enforcement provisions to the New York Health And Essential Rights Act’s (NY HERO Act) workplace safety committee requirements. The new law went into effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.
Employers in New York State should be aware of recent new laws as well as some pending bills, all of which seek to bolster harassment and discrimination protections for employees. As detailed below, New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed several bills into law that expand harassment and discrimination protections, while the New York Senate recently passed more bills that would further bolster safeguards for employees and independent contractors in the state.
The first state to implement workplace health and safety standards for COVID-19 is poised to roll back those requirements. Virginia’s Permanent COVID-19 Employee Health and Safety Requirements (the “Permanent Standard”) established requirements for employers to control, prevent, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, with the Omicron wave receding, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin says the Permanent Standard presents “a significant burden on businesses” and should be reconsidered.
Pursuant to Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order issued on January 15, 2022, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board (the “Board”) convened on February 16, 2022, to determine whether the Permanent Standard is still necessary. Adopting the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s (“DOLI”) recommendation, the Board agreed that there is no continued need for the Permanent Standard because the virus, “based on emerging scientific and medical evidence, . . . no longer constitute[s] a grave danger to employees in the workplace.”
On January 26, 2022, legislation (“Amendments”) amending and significantly expanding the scope of New York’s whistleblower laws will take effect.
As our previous Insight explained in more detail, the Amendments make it much easier for individuals to bring a retaliation claim under New York Labor Law § 740 (“Section 740”) and increase coverage for workers who allege that they have been retaliated against for reporting suspected employer wrongdoing to include former employees and independent contractors.
As we have previously explained, pursuant to Section 1 of the NY HERO Act, employers were required to prepare an airborne infectious disease exposure plan, and implement such plans when the New York State Commissioner of Health has made a designation that a highly contagious communicable disease presents a serious risk of harm to public health. Currently, such a designation is in effect until February 15, 2022. The New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) prepared model plans based on their published Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard (“Standard”). On August 25, 2021, the NYSDOL published a set of emergency regulations, identical to the Standard, in the New York State Register. Although they had not been formally adopted, most businesses have been following the Standard.
The New York State Acting Commissioner of Health has extended the designation of COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health under the NY HERO Act until February 15, 2022. Accordingly, the airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans required under Section 1 of the Act must be kept in place through that date, at which point the Commissioner will review whether the designation should be continued.
As we previously reported, in December New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued a mandate requiring that masks be worn in all indoor public places, unless the business or venue requires proof of vaccination for entry. As part of the state’s “Winter Surge Plan 2.0”, the mandate, which was initially set to expire on January 15, has now been extended for an additional two weeks, through February 1, 2022.
On November 19, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act (BBBA or the Act),  which, if enacted, would be the first federal enhancement of family and medical leave for private sector workers since the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 1993. While the BBBA does not go as far as initially proposed (12 weeks of paid leave), it would expand upon the FMLA’s current unpaid protections by providing up to four weeks of paid caregiving leave. Further, the BBBA would allow paid leave benefits for a broader group of eligible workers and for additional qualifying family members beyond those covered by the FMLA. If enacted, the paid family leave program would become effective January 2024.
As we previously reported, as of September 6, 2021, all New York HERO Act (“HERO Act”) airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans (“Safety Plans”) must be implemented due to COVID-19 being designated as a serious public health risk under the HERO Act. This designation was recently extended until at least October 31, 2021, per the New York Commissioner of Health’s announcement.
To help employers comply with the HERO Act’s requirements, the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) has published a variety of guidance materials, such as model Safety ...
As we previously reported, on May 5, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act” or “Act”) into law, permanently codifying COVID-19-related health and safety protocols. In a memorandum issued with the signing, Governor Cuomo announced that he had secured an agreement with the Legislature for amendments to the Act to address certain ambiguities and technicalities.
On May 14, 2021, State legislators introduced bills (S6768/A7477) (“Bills” or the “Amendments”) to address some of the Governor’s concerns. The ...
During a May 10, 2021 press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to propose legislation aimed at stopping discrimination against those who choose to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Unlike many states that are introducing legislation to prevent discrimination against those who are unvaccinated, this bill would protect those who are vaccinated. The Governor referenced a report that certain summer camps are not allowing campers to attend or staff members to work at the camp if they have received the vaccine. Audio of his remarks is available here.
On May 3, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced a significant easing of COVID-19-related capacity restrictions on businesses in their respective states. Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, who joined the other two governors in the announcement, had previously ordered a comparable lifting of capacity restrictions in his state.
Specifically, effective May 19, New Jersey and New York will remove most capacity limitations on businesses, which are currently based on a percentage of maximum capacity, and replace them with limitations ...
The New York City Council is planning to evaluate how effectively both the City, as an employer, and private employers disseminated and implemented COVID-19 workplace guidance over the past year with the goal of strengthening how the public and private sectors manage future public health emergencies. On February 28, 2021, the Council enacted Int. 2161-2020 (the “Law”), which establishes a board to review the workplace health and safety guidance that agencies and private employers issued to their respective employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The newly formed board will ...
Many employers have established wellness programs to promote employee health and, in doing so, help counter the ever increasing costs associated with employer-sponsored health benefit plans. Often employers want to establish programs that provide employees with incentives to achieve certain health outcomes, such as smoking cessation or weight loss. Employers must exercise caution in creating such health-contingent wellness programs, which necessarily require employees to disclose health information, because the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the ...
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