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Lindsay Colvin Stone is an associate in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's New York office.

On June 27, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that mandated payment of so-called “agency fees” by non-union members in the public sector violated First Amendment principles protecting freedom of speech and association. In Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, No. 16-1466, 2018 WL 3129785 (June 27, 2018) a 5-4 majority of the Court rejected the holding of the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), which permitted such fees, as a wrongly-decided imposition on individual constitutional rights. This landmark decision presents major implications for public-sector union funding in the future, and is notable for all employers with unionized workforces.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Deems Public-Sector Union Agency Fees Unconstitutional

On April 12, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a 2019 New York budget implementing the provisions of S-7848A (the “Budget”). Beyond the obligations created by S-7848A, which we summarized in a previous post, the Budget also obligates New York employers to: (i) distribute a written sexual harassment policy; and (ii) perform annual sexual harassment training. The full impact of the Budget on employers is detailed below.
Continue Reading Update: New York State Passes Budget, Creates New Sexual Harassment Obligations For Employers

On March 12, 2018, the New York State Senate passed S-7848A, a bill that, if enacted, would significantly change the legislative landscape for sexual harassment claims in the state. Most notably, S-7848A would: (i) prohibit mandatory arbitration agreements for sexual harassment complaints; (ii) ban confidential sexual harassment settlements unless the confidentiality provision is separately considered and consented to by the complainant; (iii) create a statutory definition of “sexual harassment”; and (iv) expand state-law protections against sexual harassment to independent contractors.
Continue Reading Bill Banning Confidential Settlements and Mandatory Arbitration for Sexual Harassment Claims Passes New York Senate

Last month, New York’s highest court took the unprecedented step of construing the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) more narrowly than its state and federal counterparts to bar plaintiffs’ city law disability discrimination claims. Answering a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the New York Court of Appeals in Makinen v. City of New York, Nos. 16-973-cv(L), 16-1080-cv(XAP), 2017 WL 4621717 (N.Y. Oct. 17, 2017) held that two former New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers could not sustain disability discrimination claims on the basis of “perceived untreated alcoholism,” even though such claims would be recognized under the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
Continue Reading New York’s Highest Court Narrowly Construes New York City Human Rights Law To Bar Disability Discrimination Claims Based on Perceived Alcoholism

Last month, the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB” or “the Board”) reversed standing precedent and held that student assistants at private universities, including both graduate and undergraduate teaching and research assistants, qualify as “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) and may accordingly join unions to collectively bargain with their employers.  The case, Columbia University, 364 NLRB 90 (2016), offers yet another indication of the strength of the Board’s commitment to maintaining and expanding its presence in a rapidly changing employment environment – and its willingness to overrule itself to do so
Continue Reading NLRB Allows Student Assistants to Unionize, Signals Commitment to Expanding Its Reach

On July 11, 2016, the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB” or “the Board”) upended more than a decade of precedent and held that a single bargaining unit may be comprised of an employer’s direct hires and the temporary workers provided by a “joint employer” without prior consent from either employer.  In the case, Miller & Anderson, Inc. (364 NLRB 39), the Board expressly rejected standing precedent and prescribed the return to a standard that makes it easier for unions to organize employees working for joint employers into a single bargaining unit.  The Miller & Anderson decision reflects the NLRB’s increased commitment to expand the joint employer doctrine.  Employers who provide or use temporary workers and/or are in engaged in joint employer relationships should take note.
Continue Reading NLRB Finds Increased Use of Joint Employees Justifies Removal of Barriers to Organization

On January 20, 2016, the United States Supreme Court rejected a strategy recently used by some defendants to defeat class actions in their infancy. In Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, No. 14-857 (2016), a majority of the Court held that an unaccepted Rule 68[1] offer of judgment to a representative class action plaintiff does not moot the class action because the “case or controversy” still exists for a federal court to maintain jurisdiction over the lawsuit.  
Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds that Rejected Rule 68 Offer of Judgment Does Not Moot Class Action

The New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) forbids employment discrimination on the basis of a number of protected characteristics, such as age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender (including gender identity and sexual harassment), disability, marital status, partnership status, sexual orientation, alienage, and citizenship status. The NYCHRL applies to employers with four or more employees.  On January 5, 2016, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation expanding the NYCHRL to add “caregiver status” as an additional protected category for which employment discrimination is prohibited.  The new law goes into effect beginning May 4, 2016, to prohibit employment discrimination against employees caring for a minor child or an individual with a disability. 
Continue Reading New York City Human Rights Law Expanded To Protect Caregivers

This month a new law requiring certain New York City employers to provide pre-tax commuter benefits to their employees went into effect. Under the law, covered New York City employers must give full-time employees the opportunity to use up to $255 per month in pre-tax income to purchase qualified transportation fringe benefits. (N.Y. City Local Law 53 (2014)).  Although the law went into effect on January 1, 2016, the law provides a six-month grace period until July 1, 2016 for employers to begin offering commuter benefits to employees.  After July 1, 2016, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs will begin enforcement of the NYCCBL which includes the authority to fine employers up to $250 per violation.
Continue Reading New York City Commuter Benefits Law (NYCCBL) Makes Changes For Employers With a Workforce On the Go (Compliance Required by July 1, 2016)

This past year New Jersey state and local legislatures implemented several employment laws that are set to take effect at the end of 2015 or in early 2016. This update summarizes these new legal requirements to help New Jersey employers prepare and comply in 2016.
Continue Reading New Year, New Rules for Employers Doing Business in New Jersey