Lawful Absence Protections in NYC have recently undergone significant changes with the amendment to the New York labor law. This update aims to safeguard employees who exercise their rights to legally protected absences. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of the amendment, explore its implications for employers, and emphasize the importance of careful management of employee absences.
On Tuesday, March 30th, Human Resources experts gathered for another iteration of the HR RoundTable (HRRT). TemPositions’ own Roger Oliver, our Director of Strategic Accounts, founded HRRT. It serves as a venue where Human Resources professionals discuss the dynamic HR landscape. This time around, Joseph H. Harris, Labor and Employment partner at Barton LLP, presented. In the hour and a half long conversation, a few key topics surfaced
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Lawful Absence Protections in NYC: Expanding Employee Safeguards
Lawful Absence Protections in NYC have been reinforced with the amendment to the New York labor law. This amendment prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who take legally protected absences, in addition to existing local, state, and federal laws. Whether it’s sick leave, paid family leave, or other statutory absences, retaliating against employees could result in severe consequences under these enhanced protections.
Potential Legal Implications: Creating New Opportunities
The amendment’s impact extends beyond employee protection by potentially creating new opportunities for employee-side lawyers to bring legal actions. It allows for arguments that previously non-actionable laws might now provide a basis for private lawsuits. For example, an employee taking New York state paid family leave could argue that any retaliation constitutes a violation of the law, leading to a private cause of action in state court. This expansion introduces an additional layer of risk for employers and could potentially increase the number of claims filed.
Understanding the Consequences: Employers Beware
Employers must be mindful of the consequences resulting from violations of the amendment. Non-compliance can lead to civil penalties ranging from one to $20,000, depending on the circumstances and repeat offenses. Additionally, employers may be held liable for lost wages, damages, and attorneys’ fees due to the fee-shifting provision included in the amendment. This heightened risk necessitates careful adherence to the law and comprehensive risk management strategies.
Targeting No Fault Attendance Policies: Promoting Fairness
One of the primary objectives of the amendment is to address No Fault attendance policies that treat all absences equally without considering individual circumstances. While these policies may initially appear fair, they can disproportionately affect employees who require reasonable accommodations or take protected leaves, such as intermittent paid family leave or sick leave. By targeting these policies, Lawful Absence Protections in NYC aim to prevent disparate impacts and ensure fair treatment for all employees.
Navigating Employee Absences: Compliance and Consideration
To navigate employee absences effectively, employers should be cautious and considerate. Although employers can generally require employees to use accrued paid time off (PTO) during certain absences, it’s crucial to review the specific requirements outlined in the relevant statutes. While some statutes explicitly state that leave is in addition to accrued PTO, others may not. As a default position, employers should refrain from mandating employees exhaust accrued PTO before taking statutorily protected leave. Seeking guidance from legal counsel can help ensure compliance and mitigate potential risks.
Balancing Paid Time Off: Comprehensive Evaluation
When employees have exhausted their paid time off, employers are not obligated to provide additional paid leave beyond what is required by the statute. However, employers must consider other relevant circumstances. For instance, employees may qualify for other types of leave, such as paid family leave, FMLA leave, or short-term disability leave. Terminating an employee solely based on exhausted PTO without considering these factors could lead to legal implications. Employers should adopt a comprehensive evaluation approach and explore alternative accommodations or legal obligations.
How Employers Should Proceed
The recent amendment to the New York labor law brings forth significant changes regarding Lawful Absence Protections in NYC. Employers must be well-versed in these new provisions, review their existing policies, and ensure compliance with the law. By proactively addressing employee absences and cultivating a supportive work environment, employers can mitigate the risks associated with unlawful absences and retaliation.
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Please note: the information reflected in this post is not official legal advice nor does it necessary reflect the opinions of the associated firms.