On September 6, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law that prohibits employers from requiring employees to attend employer-sponsored meetings the “primary purpose” of which is to communicate the employer’s opinions on religious or political matters, including relating to joining a labor organization. The new law, which took immediate effect, comes amid a wider push against so-called “captive audience” meetings.
Under a recently introduced bill, employers across New York State could face new restrictions on the electronic surveillance of workers and the growing use of automated decision-making and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to make employment decisions. Senate Bill (S) 07623 seeks to address privacy concerns with electronic surveillance, or so-called “bossware,” and concerns that automated decision-making tools result in discrimination against individuals with disabilities or against other members of protected groups.
On June 29, 2023, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) issued new guidance on the enforcement of the city’s law regulating the use of automated employment decision tools (AEDTs) ahead of the July 5, 2023, effective date for final rules implementing the law.
Consideration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues is becoming increasingly important for companies when conducting business and in dealings with investors and employees. The increased emphasis on ESG poses unique and difficult challenges for companies that can have a direct impact on their financial performance and broader perception as responsible corporate citizens.
On April 11, 2023, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) finalized updates to the state’s “Sexual Harassment Model Policy” that provides employers a template to aid their compliance with New York State laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace. The department further released an updated training video and new model training presentation slides that incorporate the additions to the new policy.
On April 6, 2023, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) adopted highly anticipated final rules implementing the city’s law regulating the use of automated employment decision tools (AEDT) tools in hiring that will take effect on July 5, 2023. The AEDT law, which took effect on January 1, 2023, restricts the use of automated employment decision tools and artificial intelligence (AI) by employers and employment agencies by requiring that such tools be subjected to bias audits and requiring employers and employment agencies to notify employees and job candidates that such tools are being used to evaluate them.
The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing labor and employment news from inside the Beltway and clarifying how what’s happening in Washington, D.C. could impact your business.
On January 31, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a public hearing, titled, “Navigating Employment Discrimination in AI and Automated Systems: A New Civil Rights Frontier,” to receive panelist testimony concerning the use of automated systems, including artificial intelligence, by employers in employment decisions.
On December 28, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law an amendment to Section 2 of the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act). The amendment, which took effect immediately upon signing, provides that “[a]n employer must recognize within five business days the establishment of a workplace safety committee.”
On January 23, 2023, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection held a public hearing on updated proposed rules to implement the city’s automated employment decision tools law (Local Law 144).
In accordance with its quadrennial obligation to evaluate the impact of New York State’s Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy in the workplace, on January 12, 2023, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), in consultation with the New York State Division of Human Rights, published a proposed updated model sexual harassment prevention policy.
On December 23, 2022, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) published updated proposed rules to implement the city’s automated employment decision tools (AEDT) law (Local Law 144). The law conditions the use of automated employment decision tools to screen candidates for employment or employees for promotion within the city on compliance with certain requirements, including the performance of a bias audit, and the furnishing of notifications to candidates and employees.
On December 5, 2022, the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands upheld a 2019 jury verdict, which found that Caribbean airline LIAT (1974), Ltd., had discharged its former area manage because of his age in violation of the Virgin Islands Civil Rights Act (VICRA).
With the January 1, 2023, effective date of New York City’s automated employment decision tools law looming, the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection announced on December 12, 2022, that it intended to convene a second public hearing and postpone enforcement of the law until April 15, 2023.
On November 21, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law Senate Bill S1958A, which amends section 215 of the New York Labor Law (NYLL) to enhance protections for employees who take legally protected absences. The law takes effect on February 19, 2023.
On October 25, 2022, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Richmond County, upheld a challenge to New York City’s vaccine mandate for public-sector employees, ordered the immediate reinstatement of and back pay to former New York City Department of Sanitation employees who had challenged the mandate, and declared the vaccine mandate for private-sector employees to be arbitrary and capricious.
On September 23, 2022, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection published proposed rules to implement the city’s automated employment decision tools (AEDT) law. The law, which will take effect on January 1, 2023, conditions the use of automated employment decision tools by employers and employment agencies on their compliance with certain requirements, including the performance of bias audits and the furnishing of notifications to candidates and employees. The proposed rules define several key terms, identify the requirements for a bias audit, address obligations for publishing the results of a bias audit, and specify the notices to be furnished to employees and candidates for employment.
As we previously reported, restrictions concerning the use of automated tools to screen candidates for employment or employees for promotion within New York City are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2023. The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection will hold a public hearing concerning proposed rules to implement the closely watched law on Monday, October 24, 2022.
Under an amendment to the New York Civil Rights Law that will take effect on May 7, 2022, private-sector employers that monitor their employees’ use of telephones, emails, and the internet must provide notice of such monitoring. The following provides highlights of the new law.
On April 11, 2022, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. signed into law Act No. 8553, “The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2022” or “The Virgin Islands Crown Act of 2022,” which prohibits discrimination based on hair texture or hairstyle.
On January 26, 2022, amendments to New York’s whistleblower protection law, codified at section 740 of the New York Labor Law (NYLL), took effect. As we previously reported, these amendments significantly expand the scope of section 740. Although New York employers that also operate in states with expansive private-sector whistleblower protection laws, such as New Jersey, Oregon, or Virginia, may not need to make significant adjustments, other employers may wish to consider updating their policies; implementing or enhancing support structures, including robust and accessible reporting mechanisms and regular training for supervisors, managers, and human resources professionals; and identifying appropriate resources for investigating complaints.
On December 22, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) published highly anticipated final regulations in the New York State Register regarding New York State Paid Sick Leave (PSL), which went into effect on September 30, 2020. These final regulations address comments received from the public following the issuance of proposed regulations published on December 9, 2020. The final regulations provide some additional clarification regarding the PSL and its requirements.
Employers and employment agencies in New York City that currently utilize, or expect to utilize, automated tools to make employment decisions may wish to begin planning now for restrictions that will take effect on January 1, 2023, concerning the types of tools that may be utilized and the disclosures concerning such tools that must be provided to candidates for employment or promotions.
On December 22, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) published highly anticipated proposed regulations in the New York State Register regarding section 2 of the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act).
On November 8, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law an amendment to the New York Civil Rights Law that requires employers with places of business in the state to provide prior notice concerning the monitoring of employee telephone, email, or internet usage.
In accordance with the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act), on July 6, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL), in consultation with the New York State Department of Health, published the Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard and Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan. Although the NYS DOL initially published the standard and model plan only in English, the NYS DOL has since furnished the standard and the model plan in Spanish. In addition to the non-industry specific model plan, the NYS DOL has created 11 industry-specific templates, which are available only in English.
On September 6, 2021, New York State Commissioner of Health Howard A. Zucker designated COVID-19 as “a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health in New York State.” As a result of the commissioner’s designation, employers are required to activate their airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans in accordance with the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act).
The New York attorney general’s August 3, 2021, report regarding the sexual harassment allegations brought against former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, “Report of Investigation Into Allegations of Sexual Harassment by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo,” contains extraordinary detail to support the conclusion that Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees.” Beyond noting the political consequences of the investigation, employers in New York and elsewhere may wish to consider utilizing these recent developments as an opportunity to reassess their workplace practices to minimize the likelihood of events occurring similar to those described in the report. Among the many potential action items and considerations, below are tips on training, education, and communication that employers may wish to explore as a result of the Cuomo report.
On May 5, 2021, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act), which “mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”