Read on to learn about important employment law updates effective in 2020 for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut employers.
MINIMUM WAGE UPDATES
Effective December 31, 2019, the minimum wage has increased to $13.00 per hour in Long Island and Westchester, while the rest of New York State has increased to $11.80 per hour.
Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum wage in New Jersey increased to $11.00 per hour.
Effective October 1, 2019, Connecticut’s minimum wage increased to $11.00 per hour.
HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION LAW CHANGES
- Under New York Labor Law, employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for reproductive health decision making, including, but is not limited to, “a decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service.” Additionally, employers who provide an employee handbook must update their handbooks by January 7, 2020 to include a notice of employee rights and remedies under the law.
- Effective February 8, 2020, New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) will apply to all employers, regardless of size. The NYSHRL protects individuals, including employees and non-employees such as contractors, vendors, and consultants, from discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics.
- Effective August 12, 2020, the statute of limitations for an employee to report claims of sexual harassment to the New York State Division of Human Rights will increase from one year to three years.
- Effective January 11, 2020, protections available under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) will apply to interns, freelancers, and independent contractors.
- Effective December 19, 2019, The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) has been amended to clarify that hairstyle discrimination is included in prohibitions against race-based discrimination.
- Employers in Connecticut with three or more employees are required to provide sexual harassment training to all employees prior to October 1, 2020, and must prominently display notice of the illegality of sexual harassment and available remedies.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE INCREASE IN NEW YORK EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2020
- Employees taking leave under New York’s Paid Family Leave Law (NYPFLL) will see an increase in their maximum weekly benefit eligibility, up to 60% of their average weekly wage, to a maximum benefit amount of $840.70 per week.
- Employee contributions will increase to 0.270% of an employee’s gross wages each pay period.
- Notably, the benefit rate and number of weeks of leave available to an employee will be based on the rate in effect on their first day of eligible leave.
PRE-EMPLOYMENT INQUIRIES EMPLOYERS SHOULD AVOID
New York State
- Effective January 6, 2020, employers in New York State will be prohibited from using the wage and salary history of an applicant to determine whether to offer employment or to determine compensation.
- Employers may also not request wage or salary history from an applicant, a current employee, or a current or former employer.
New York City
- Effective May 10, 2020, New York City employers will be prohibited from requiring pre-employment testing for marijuana as a condition of employment, except in limited circumstances involving public safety, such as police officers or construction workers.
- Effective January 1, 2020, New Jersey employers are prohibited from inquiring into a candidate’s salary history prior to making an offer of employment which includes compensation details. An employer can consider salary information if it is voluntarily, and without prompting, provided by the candidate.
NEW JERSEY EMPLOYERS REQUIRED TO OFFER COMMUTER BENEFITS
- Effective March 1, 2020, New Jersey employers with 20 or more employees are required to offer pre-tax commuter benefits to their employees.
- Eligible employees can lay aside a set amount of money, pre-tax, to apply to certain commuting expenses including parking, mass transit, and van-pooling.
- The benefit’s maximums are tied to the federal allowable amounts, which provide for a monthly maximum of $265 for van-pooling or mass transit and a monthly maximum of $265 for qualified parking (such as at a park and ride location).
- An employee can opt for both a transit or van-pooling benefit as well as a parking benefit.
- Employers should ensure that they are ready by establishing a transit benefits program.
NEW JERSEY HOSPITALITY AND SERVICE EMPLOYERS – PANIC BUTTON LEGISLATION
- Effective January 1, 2020, Employers in the hospitality and service industries in New Jersey must provide panic buttons to employees performing housekeeping or room service duties.