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. Specifically, the amendment prohibits employers from “assessing any demerit, occurrence, any other point, or deductions from an allotted bank of time, which subjects or could subject an employee to disciplinary action” based upon the use of “any legally protected absence pursuant to federal, local, or state law.” The law likewise makes it unlawful for employers to fire, threaten, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against employees for their use of lawful absences. The law takes effect on February 19, 2023.
The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) can issue civil penalties up to $10,000 for violations of section 215 and up to $20,000 for subsequent violations. The NYSDOL can also order reinstatement and award back pay, front pay, and liquidated damages. Individuals who bring suit in court for violations of the NYLL can also recover monetary damages, including, but not limited to, liquidated damages.
Employers may wish to review the above requirements to ensure their practices comply with the new obligations articulated in the law.
Ogletree Deakins’ New York office will continue to monitor developments with respect to the implementation of the new law and its impact on the workplace and will post updates on the firm’s New York and Leaves of Absence blogs as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.