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New York State

2019 NYS Legislative Session Wrap Up

By Tiffany Latino-Gerlock, Director of Government Relations and Communications at MACNY, The Manufacturers Association & MANY (The Manufacturers Alliance of New York State) 

The 2019 Legislative Session wrapped up in Albany at the end of June with a flurry of activity and hundreds of bills passing before lawmakers adjourned for the summer and headed home to their district offices.

Below is an overview report from The Manufacturers Alliance of New York of some of the new measures that state legislators passed this session that may have an impact on your company and its operations. If you have any questions about these bills, or the overall 2019 Legislative Session, please contact Tiffany Latino-Gerlock, Director of Government Relations and Communications at MACNY, The Manufacturers Association & MANY (The Manufacturers Alliance of New York State) at 315-474-4201 ext. 13 or at tiffanylatinog@macny.org.

New Measures:

Permanent Property Tax Cap – a tax cap that places a limit on the growth of school property taxes at two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. MANY has long supported and advocated for a permanent property tax cap.

Expansion of the MWBE Program – legislation that reauthorizes the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) program and extends the provisions of law relating to the participation of MWBEs in state contracts for the program to continue. The legislation increases the “Personal Net Worth” cap from $3.5 million to $15 million.

Pay Equity in the Workplace – package of bills that expands the definition of “equal pay for equal work” to prohibit unequal pay based on a protected class for all substantially similar work. It also includes a salary history ban prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their salary history when determining the wages of a prospective employee.

Women on Corporate Boards Study – legislation that requires the department of state, in collaboration with the department of taxation and finance, to conduct a study on the number of women directors who serve on each board of directors of domestic and foreign corporations authorized to do business in NYS.

Small Business Tax Credit – legislation to establish a small business tax credit for a company that employs a disabled person for the duration of six months and who works a minimum of thirty-five hours per week. The amount of credit per hired person shall range between five thousand to twenty-five thousand dollars.

Workforce Development Funding – $750,000 secured in the 2019-20 State Budget for the Manufacturers Intermediary Apprenticeship Program (MIAP) to continue. MANY and Alliance Partners worked hard from the start of budget negotiations to ensure that this funding was included in the final budget.

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act – legislation that enacts the CLCPA requiring reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 60% of 1990 levels by 2030 and 15% of 1990 levels by 2050. It also creates the Climate Action Council that will be comprised of various stakeholders, including Energy-Intensive Trade Exposed Industries (EITEs), to help develop a plan on how the state will achieve an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. From the beginning of this legislative session, MANY and many of our members strongly advocated for changes to the original proposal to help protect manufacturers and for EITES to have a seat at the table during the scoping plan process. Furthermore, EITEs will be a part of the working transition group that will advise the council on issues for workforce development, training, and energy-efficient measures.

Next Year’s Priorities:

Support – Though we didn’t see the full passage of a bill that MANY has long championed for, which would provide a zero percent tax rate for all manufacturers, we are pleased to report that it advanced in the State Senate, unanimously passing the Budget and Revenue Committee.

Support – Continued and increased funding for the Manufacturers Intermediary Apprenticeship Program (MIAP) to help grow a larger network of registered apprenticeships at companies throughout the Hudson Valley and statewide.

Oppose – Also not approved this session was a bill that would mandate a prevailing wage on almost all construction projects in NYS that receive any state, regional, or local financial support. Earlier in the year, MANY joined a coalition of business, building, affordable housing, construction, health care, and economic development groups to oppose the bill and voice concern with its potential to halt future economic growth. We will continue to track any movement on this proposal.

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New York City and State Expand Protections for Transgender, Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming Workers

From Jackson Lewis PC, Council of Industry Associate Member
By Michelle E. Phillips, Richard I. Greenberg and Christopher M. Repole

GENDA Enacted in New York State

The new NYCHRL rules follow New York State’s enactment of GENDA, which adds “gender identity or expression” as protected categories in the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). The NYSHRL now defines “gender identity or expression” as “a person’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-based characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth, including but not limited to the status of being transgender.” Under existing protections in the NYSHRL, employers found liable for discrimination may be responsible for back pay and compensatory damages.

Next Steps for Employers

Taken together, these changes in City and State law provide robust protections against discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Employers should consider the following to avoid liability under the new rules:
Read the full article here

 

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New York Legislative Update — 2019 Starts With a Roar

From Jackson Lewis PC, a Council of Industry Associate Member
By Jonathan L. BingRichard I. GreenbergLisa M. MarrelloMichelle E. PhillipsDaniel J. Jacobs and Thomas Buchan

The New York State Legislature gaveled in for the 2019-2020 Legislative Session on January 9, 2019, with Democrats in control of all three chambers of New York State government for the first time since the 2008-2009 session. As expected, the Democrats are flexing their muscles and progressive legislation traditionally stalled in a Republican-controlled Senate has been given new life. For example, two long-stalled progressive pieces of legislation, Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and the Child Victims Act (discussed below), were quickly passed by the Legislature.

Jackson Lewis is tracking a number of proposals affecting employers that are going through the FY 2020 State Budget Process and 2019 Legislative Session.

Passed Legislation

GENDA – S.1047 (Hoylman) / A.747 (Gottfried)

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act into law. GENDA will go into effect on February 24, 2019. GENDA prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression and includes such offenses under the hate crimes statute. The legislation codifies the position taken by the New York State Division of Human Rights. “Gender identity or expression” is defined as “a person’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-based characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth, including but not limited to the status of being transgender.”

Child Victims Act – S.2440 (Hoylman) / A.2683 (Rosenthal)

Passed by the Legislature, the Child Victims Act extends the criminal statute of limitations for prosecuting sex crimes against children to when the child reaches 23 years of age. The legislation also extends the civil statute of limitations to allow commencement of child sex abuse cases until the alleged victim turns 55 years old. The law further creates a one-year opener or window for filing previously time-barred civil claims arising out of child sexual abuse, including negligence actions against employers, applicable to both public and private entities.

Discrimination based on Reproductive Health Decision – S.660 (Metzger) / A.584 (Jaffee)

Both houses of the Legislature passed legislation that would prohibit employment discrimination based on an employee’s or an employee’s dependent’s reproductive health decisions. The legislation creates a civil cause of action against employers alleged to violate the law, requires employers to include remedies provided under the law in their handbooks, and prescribes remedies, including liquidated damages, for relief. The bill has not yet been delivered to the Governor.

Policies in Governor’s FY 2020 Executive Budget Proposal

The Governor’s FY 2020 New York State Executive Budget Proposal includes many ideas that would affect employers. We highlight some that will be considered through the negotiation process with the Legislature that is expected to conclude on or about the State Constitution-mandated deadline of April 1. Many of these already are effective under New York City law.

Equal Pay; Salary History Ban

The Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal would amend the Human Rights Law to prohibit employers from inquiring about salary history or using salary history information as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an individual. Currently, such a ban does not apply statewide, but only in certain localities, such as New York City and Westchester County.

The Executive Budget Proposal would further amend the Labor Law to require that members of a protected class receive “equal pay for equal work” in both the public and private sectors.

Workplace Harassment Protections

The Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal advances language to increase protections against workplace harassment by eliminating the restriction that the harassment be “severe or pervasive.” This standard, which tracks the New York City Human Rights Law, would expand the scope of potential harassment claims greatly.

The proposal also would amend the General Obligations Law to mandate that all pre-dispute non-disclosure provisions in an employment agreement allow the filing of a civil complaint. It would further require employers to conspicuously post a sexual harassment educational poster in the workplace.

Protect Breastfeeding in Workplace

The Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal includes a provision that would guarantee breastfeeding rights in the workplace and protect those rights under the Human Rights Law. The proposal also would require an employer to make reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding in the workplace. New York City already has enacted expansive legislation in this regard, including a policy requirement, effective this spring. (See our article, New York City to Require Private Employers to Establish Lactation Rooms and Policies.)

Wage Theft

The Executive Budget Proposal includes a provision that would increase the criminal penalties for wage theft and violations of other labor laws to align with comparable criminal offenses. The proposal would amend sections 198-a and 213 of the Labor Law to increase criminal penalties for employers who knowingly engage in wage theft. The class of penalty of which an employer would be guilty will be based on specified amounts of wage theft per employee. In addition, payment of lost wages to employees would be required as restitution.

Unemployment Benefits, Penalties

The Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal intends to minimize the financial impact on Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants who work part-time while they seek full-time employment. Among other things, the proposal would permit a claimant who is partially unemployed and eligible for UI benefits to be paid a reduced benefit amount based upon the difference between the weekly benefit rate if totally unemployed and two-thirds of total remuneration of any nature payable to the claimant for services of any kind during such week. In addition, the proposal would amend section 594 of the Labor Law (“Reduction and recovery of benefits and penalties for wilful false statement”) to eliminate forfeit day penalties and to increase the monetary penalties.

Extend Workers with Disability Tax Credit

The Executive Budget Proposal would extend for three years the credits for qualified employers, including for-profit businesses, that employ individuals with developmental disabilities.

Employer Recovery Hiring Tax Credit

The Governor proposed the creation of an “Employer Recovery Hiring Tax Credit,” a credit of up to $2,000 per employee in drug abuse recovery that a business employs.

Workers’ Compensation Reform

The Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal would permit the New York State Insurance Fund (SIF) to cancel a workers’ compensation policy based on the policyholder’s failure to cooperate with a payroll audit. Prior to cancellation, the SIF would be required to provide policyholders with 45 days’ notice, aiming to pressure policyholders to act to avoid losing coverage.

Prohibiting Public Employers from Disclosing Union Members’ Personal Information

The Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal contains language that would prohibit public employers, including local governments, from disclosing the personal information of public sector employees. The Governor said this proposal aims to protect public employees from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision that public sector employees who are non-members of a union cannot be legally required to pay agency or “fair share” fees as a condition of employment. (See our article, Supreme Court Rules Unconstitutional Mandatory Fees Imposed on Non-Union, Public Sector Employees.)

Newly Proposed Sexual Harassment Package

Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas introduced a series of bills that aims to address issues related to sexual harassment in employment. S.2035/A.1115 would amend the Labor Law to require employers to inform employees that non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions in employment contracts cannot prevent employees from speaking with law enforcement, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the New York State Division of Human Rights, or a local commission on human rights. The legislation is in the Labor Committees in both the Senate and Assembly.

S.2036/A.1042 would amend the Human Rights Law to extend the filing period for a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights from one year to three years after the alleged unlawful discrimination practice. The bill also would toll the statute of limitations during ongoing proceedings from the earlier of the commencement of an investigation or the filing of a complaint through the conclusion of an investigation. The legislation also would amend the Court of Claims Act to extend the filing period for a claim against the State and apply the same tolling provision in cases against New York State. The legislation is in the Government Operations Committees of both houses.

S.2037/A.869 would amend the General Obligations Law to demand that a person signing a confidential settlement agreement be fully informed of the rights she will be giving up and require a signed, written waiver before those rights are waived. The legislation would void confidentiality agreements that prohibit or restrict a party from lodging a complaint with the appropriate local, state, or federal agency; participating in an investigation conducted with a local, federal, or state agency; or filing or disclosing any facts necessary to receive unemployment insurance, Medicaid, or any other public benefit to which the party is entitled. The legislation is in the Judiciary Committee of both houses.

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Please contact the authors or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work with any questions you may have regarding your New York State legal compliance.

The Jackson Lewis Government Relations practice monitors and tracks all legislation introduced in New York and advocates for client positions at all levels of city and state government.

©2019 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

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New York Minimum Wage Increases

From Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions, a Council of Industry Associate Member

An increase in the minimum wage, intended to eventually bring New York’s state minimum wage to $15 an hour, went into effect on December 31.

As a result of a measure signed into law in April 2016, the state will continue to see minimum wage increases implemented on a regional basis. The state’s current basic minimum wage is $10.40 an hour.

Under this law, New York City employers with 11 or more employees will see the minimum wage go to $15 an hour on December 31. New York City employers with fewer than 11 employees will see the minimum wage increase to $13.50 on December 31 and rise $1.50 next year, reaching $15 at the end of 2019.

Long Island and Westchester counties will see the minimum wage rise to $12 on December 31 and then go up $1 per year, reaching $15 at the end of 2021.

The rest of the state will see the minimum wage hit $11.10 on December 31 and go up 70 cents per year until it reaches $12.50 at the end of 2020. After that, the minimum wage will continue to increase to $15 an hour on an indexed schedule.

The law contains a “safety valve” that will allow state officials beginning in 2019 to consider the effects of wage increases on regional economies before permitting scheduled increases to go into effect.

The minimum salary required for administrative and executive employees to be exempt from overtime pay in New York State is set to increase as well. Beginning December 31, 2018, the salary thresholds are as follows:

  NYC employers with 11 or more employees, $1,125 per week.

  NYS employers with 10 or fewer employees, $1,012.50 per week.

  For Nassau, Westchester, and Suffolk County employers, $900 per week.

  For other employers, $832 per week.

 

We are currently reviewing all employee pay rates and will be in touch shortly to discuss any necessary pay adjustments. If you have any questions, please contact us at 845-471-1200

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Empire State Manufacturing Survey: The Good News Continues

Federal Reserve

The August 2018 results for the Empire State Manufacturing Survey once again indicate robust growth. Results have been overwhelmingly positive since the start of 2018. This is great news for Manufacturers in the Hudson Valley, and the optimistic projections for the future imply more good news is on the way.

Business activity remained robust in New York State, according to firms responding to the August 2018 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index climbed three points to 25.6. New orders and shipments grew strongly, and firms reported an increase in unfilled orders. Delivery times continued to lengthen, and inventories held steady. Labor market indicators pointed to solid gains in employment and longer workweeks. Price indexes were little changed and remained elevated, indicating ongoing significant price increases. Looking ahead, firms stepped up their capital spending plans and were fairly optimistic about the six-month outlook.

Read the full report for more!

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