As featured in #WorkforceWednesday: This week, we look at H.R. 4445, new federal legislation that addresses mandatory arbitration of sexual assault and harassment claims.
As featured in #WorkforceWednesday: This week, we focus on new developments increasing whistleblower protections across the country and prohibiting mandatory arbitration of sexual assault and harassment claims.
A bill that will prohibit mandatory arbitration of sexual assault and sexual harassment claims is on its way from the House and Senate to President Biden for his signature. It appears likely that the President will sign the bill, given that a statement issued by the President’s Office earlier this month states that the “Administration supports” passage of the bill.
This dynamic, macro-equity movement has led to numerous workplace regulations that encompass broader pay equity and diversity and inclusion efforts. Privileged pay equity audits are one proactive tool.
For many, the topic of workplace violence may, understandably, exclusively invoke thoughts of the types of mass shootings and other employee-on-employee violence that commands the most extensive media coverage. Financial services employers, though, like employers in other significantly public-facing industries, must address a broader array of concerns—ranging from threating behavior by clients, to domestic abuse spilling over into the workplace. The legal framework that has, substantially in the past decade, come into being around issues of workplace violence in some ...
Many retail employers require their employees to agree to arbitrate employment-related disputes as a condition of employment. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that workplace arbitration agreements are enforceable according to their terms, and state law that restricts such enforcement is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). Notwithstanding those pronouncements, states, such as New York and New Jersey, have crafted legislation designed to nullify an employee’s agreement to arbitrate certain employment-related claims.
In response to the #MeToo movement, New York and New Jersey have enacted legislation banning workplace arbitration agreements covering sexual harassment and discrimination claims. On April 12, 2018, New York State, as part of its 2018-2019 budget, amended § 7515 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”) to prohibit employers with four or more employees from incorporating mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration clauses in written employment contracts requiring the resolution of allegations of claims of sexual harassment. Additionally, any such clause in a contract entered into after the effective date of the law would be rendered null and void.
On June 19, 2019, the New York legislature passed a bill (which, as of the date of this post, has yet to be signed into law) that makes sweeping changes to New York’s harassment and discrimination laws. Among other things, the bill again amends § 7515 of the CPLR to ban mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses in written employment contracts requiring the resolution of allegations of claims of workplace discrimination generally, not just sexual harassment claims and renders any such clause null and void.
On March 18, 2019, New Jersey Governor Murphy signed legislation that declares unenforceable any “provision in any employment contract that waives any substantive or procedural right or remedy relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment.” N.J.S.A. 10:5-12.7(1)(a). The law further provides that “[n]o right or remedy under the [Law Against Discrimination], or any other statute or case law shall be prospectively waived.” N.J.S.A. 10:5-12.7(1)(b). Both provisions can be construed to prohibit the waiver of a right to a jury trial as required by an arbitration agreement.
Many observers have questioned whether these laws restricting arbitration would be preempted by the FAA. A recent decision in the Southern District of New York, Mahmoud Latif v. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, No. 18cv11528 (DLC), 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107020 (S.D.N.Y. June 26, 2019), confirms that state laws targeting enforcement of arbitration agreements are vulnerable to attack on FAA preemption grounds.
As discussed below, in Latif, the court held that New York’s ban on the arbitration of sexual harassment claims was unenforceable as preempted by the FAA. The court also stated, in a footnote, that the as yet unsigned June 19, 2019 New York legislation would be preempted by the FAA for the same reasons. Latif suggests that employers covered by the FAA can be more confident that their agreements seeking to arbitrate employment-related claims will be enforceable.
Launched more than a decade ago, the #MeToo movement made its way into the national (and international) conversation in 2017, and, by 2018, the movement had such momentum that it spurred a cornucopia of new state laws. One of these new laws, which became effective July 11, 2018, is a New York State statute that prohibits employers from requiring employees to submit sexual harassment claims to mandatory arbitration. This new law is codified in Section 7515 of the Civil Practice Law & Rules of the State of New York (“C.P.L.R.”), entitled “Mandatory arbitration clauses; ...
As has been reported by the New York Times, NBC, and other outlets, asset-management firm TCW is defending a lawsuit filed by a former fund manager, Sara Tirschwell, charging the firm with gender discrimination and retaliation, among other allegations. Ms. Tirschwell’s lawsuit has received media attention not only because of the substantial damages that she demands (in excess of $30 million), but also—and perhaps, principally—because the suit has been characterized as Wall Street’s first public brush with the #MeToo movement.
The basic contours of the dispute are ...
There is a visceral and palpable dynamic emerging in global workplaces: tension.
Tension between what is potentially knowable—and what is actually known. Tension between the present and the future state of work. Tension between what was, is, and what might become (and when). Tension between the nature, function, and limits of data and technology.
The present-future of work is being shaped daily, dynamically, and profoundly by a host of factors—led by the exponential proliferation of data, new technologies, and artificial intelligence (“AI”)—whose impact cannot be understated. Modern employers have access to an unprecedented amount of data impacting their workforce, from data concerning the trends and patterns in employee behaviors and data concerning the people analytics used in hiring, compensation, and employee benefits, to data that analyzes the composition of the employee workforce itself. To be sure, AI will continue to disrupt how virtually every employer views its human capital model on an enterprise basis. On a micro level, employers are already analyzing which functions or groups of roles might be automated, augmented, or better aligned to meet their future business models.
And, yet, there is an equal, counterbalancing force at play—the increased demand for accountability, transparency, civility, and equity. We have already seen this force playing out in real time, most notably in the #MeToo, pay equity, and data privacy and security movements. We expect that these movements and trends will continue to gain traction and momentum in litigation, regulation, and international conversation into 2019 and beyond.
We have invited Epstein Becker Green attorneys from our Technology, Media & Telecommunications (“TMT”) service team to reflect and opine on the most significant developments of the year. In each, we endeavor to provide practical insights to enable employers to think strategically through these emergent tensions and business realities—to continue to deliver value to their organizations and safeguard their goodwill and reputation.
We published an article in Club Director, titled “Harassment and the #MeToo Movement in the Private Club Industry.” Following is an excerpt:
The recent heightened awareness to sexual harassment issues affects a wide range of industries, and has prompted employers to consider ways to get ahead of the problem. In order to reduce the risk of such complaints, private clubs may take a number of proactive steps.
Anti-Harassment Policy: Clubs should develop a zero-tolerance policy against harassment that includes, at a minimum, the following elements:
- Expressly prohibit any ...
So far, 2018 has brought an increasing number of labor and employment rules and regulations. To help you stay up to date, we are pleased to introduce the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Webinar Series.
Epstein Becker Green’s Hospitality service team took a deeper dive into our recently released Take 5 during the first webinar. Topics discussed include:
- Additional measures to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees in the hospitality workplace
- Compliance training in the hospitality workplace
- Transactional due diligence, including labor ...
Last week, the EEOC released its latest edition of its federal sector Digest of Equal Opportunity Law, a quarterly publication featuring recent Commission decisions and federal court cases selected by EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations. This edition features an article titled, “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment,” which is the fruition of an EEOC task force on workplace harassment. The article, which is particularly timely given the #MeToo movement, advances five core principles to deter and remedy harassment: (1) committed and engaged leadership; (2 ...
The first quarter of 2018 has already stirred up an array of legal matters that employers in the hospitality industry should be conscious of, both in their day-to-day operations and long-term planning. In February alone, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to curb lawsuits focused on the inaccessibility of brick-and-mortar business establishments and a federal appeals court ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a ...
Featured as our top story on Employment Law This Week: Me too At Work - Sexual misconduct in the C-Suite leads to shareholder lawsuits.
Last month on Employment Law This Week, you heard that sexual misconduct allegations would start impacting shareholder value and reputation. Well, now we’ve got a case study in Wynn Resorts. After the Wall Street Journal uncovered multiple sexual misconduct allegations against Casino mogul Steve Wynn, the company’s stock fell nearly 20%. Wynn resigned a week later, but the company’s troubles were far from over. The company’s stock has ...
Our colleagues at Epstein Becker Green have released a Take 5 newsletter focused on the financial services industry. Following are the introduction and links to the stories:
For this edition of the Take 5 for financial services, we focus on a number of very well-publicized issues. The tidal wave of sexual harassment allegations that followed the Harvey Weinstein revelations has drawn the attention of companies, their human resources departments, and employment lawyers. The rule on chief executive officer (“CEO”) pay ratio disclosure, which goes into effect in 2018 ...
- Podcast: Latest Developments – Restrictive Covenants in the Health Care Industry – Employment Law This Week
- San Francisco Releases Generative AI Guidelines for City Workers
- Video: SECURE 2.0 Act - Navigating New Retirement Plan Provisions in 2024 - Employment Law This Week
- Updated for 2024: Epstein Becker Green’s Free Wage-Hour App
- Video: California’s Non-Compete Notice Deadline Approaches, California Workplace Violence Regulations, Estrada Decision Keeps Door Open for PAGA Challenges - Employment Law This Week