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2020: New Year, New Laws in New York


  1. Minimum Wage Rates

As of December 31, 2019, the minimum wages rates in New York state are as follows:

  1. Employers in New York City with 11 or more employees – $15.00/hour

  2. Employers in New York City with 10 or fewer employees – $15.00/hour

  3. Employers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties – $13.00/hour

  4. Remainder of New York State – $11.80/hour

The minimum wage rates for fast food establishment chains are as follows:

  1. New York City Employers of Fast Food Establishment Chains with 30 or more locations nationally – $15.00/hour

  2. Employers in the Remainder of New York State of Fast Food Establishment Chains with 30 or more locations nationally – $13.75/hour

  3. Salary Basis Test

As of December 31, 2019, the salary thresholds for exempt administrative and executive employees under New York state law are as follows:

  1. Employers in New York City – $1,125.00/week

  2. Employers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties – $975.00/week

  3. Remainder of New York State – $885.00/week

Because the federal FLSA threshold is less than New York’s salary threshold, New York employers are subject to New York’s thresholds to classify these positions as exempt.

  1. All Employers Subject to the New York State Human Rights Laws (NYSHRL) Regardless of Size

Previously the NYSHRL only applied to New York employers with four or more employees.  Effective February 8, 2020, all New York employers will be subject to the NYSHRL.

Employers should also note that since August 12, 2019, the courts have been required to liberally construe NYSHRL, regardless of whether federal civil rights laws have been liberally construed, in an attempt to align the NYSHRL and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

  1. NYSHRL Statute of Limitations Increase for Claims of Sexual Harassment

Effective August 12, 2020, the statute of limitations period for asserting a claim of sexual harassment will increase from one year to three years.

  1. Non-Disclosure Provisions in Settlement Agreements Restricted

As of January 1, 2020, any agreement or contract entered into between an employee and employer preventing the disclosure of factual information related to any future claim of discrimination is unenforceable and void, unless the agreement specifically provides notification to the employee or potential employee that he or she is not prohibited from speaking with law enforcement, the EEOC, the New York State Division of Human Rights, a local commission on human rights, or an attorney regarding the disclosure of factual information related to a future claim of discrimination.

  1. Salary History Ban

Effective January 6, 2020, no New York employer shall:

  1. Require an applicant or current employee to disclose his or her wage or salary history as a condition to be interviewed, an offer of employment, or a promotion;

  2. Refuse to promote, employ, hire, or interview a current employee or applicant based on prior wage or salary history;

  3. Consider an applicant’s wage or salary history to decide whether to offer employment or determine that applicant’s wages or salary;

  4. Refuse to promote, employ, hire, interview, or otherwise retaliate against a current employee or applicant based on prior wage or salary history or because such applicant or employee did not provide a wage or salary history; or

  5. Refuse to promote, employ, hire, interview, or retaliate against a current employee or applicant because the employee or applicant filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Labor alleging a violation of the NYSHRL.

Employers should note that employees and applicants may voluntarily verify or disclose wage or salary history for the purposes of negotiating salary with employers.  After a voluntary disclosure for the purposes of negotiating salary, an employer may confirm salary information only if an offer of employment with compensation terms has already been made.

  1. New York Paid Family Leave Law (NYPFLL)

Under the NYPFLL, eligible employees are entitled to job-protected leave in order to (i) care for a new child following the birth, adoption, or placement in the home; (ii) to care for a family member with a serious health condition; or (iii) for qualifying exigencies related to military duty.

Effective January 1, 2020, employees taking leave under the NYPFLL will receive 65% of their average weekly salary (which has increased from 55% in 2019), up to a cap of 60% of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage of $1,401.70.  Employees are still entitled to take paid leave for 10 weeks.  (The 10-week period of paid family leave will increase to 12-weeks on January 1, 2021).

Additionally, as of January 1, 2020, the employee rate of contribution will increase from 0.153% to 0.270% of an employee’s gross wages each pay period (which is capped at the Statewide Average Weekly Wage).  This means that the employee’s maximum annual contribution will be $196.72 if the employee earns more than the Statewide Average Weekly Wage.

  1. New York City Ban on Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing

Effective May 12, 2020, most New York City employers will be prohibited under the NYCHRL from requiring applicants to submit to a pre-employment test for marijunana.  It should be noted that this law does not reference testing of current employees.  Employers are still permitted to prohibit the use of marijuana at work, conduct reasonable suspicion testing of employees, and conduct drug tests arising out of an accident involving a current employee.

The law does not apply to applicants for law enforcement jobs, positions requiring a commercial driver’s license, teaching or daycare center positions, or any other job having the potential to significantly impact the safety or health of employees or members of the public.  Additionally, the law does not apply to applicants if testing is required by a collective bargaining agreement, a state or federal statute, a federal grant or contract, or if required by the United States Department of Transportation.

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