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New York Enacts Law Prohibiting Discipline for Legally Protected Absences

On November 21, 2022, New York Governor Hochul signed into law a bill that clarifies that workers should not be punished or subjected to discipline by employers for lawful absences. Specifically, the law prohibits employers from “assessing any demerit, occurrence, any other point, or deductions from an allotted bank of time, which subjects or could subject an employee to disciplinary action” based upon the use of “any legally protected absence pursuant to federal, local, or state law.” This amendment to the New York Labor Law will take effect on February 20, 2023.

This law makes it very clear that no-fault attendance policies that penalize an employee for taking a legally protected absence are prohibited. Protected absences that will likely be covered under this law include, but are not limited to absences taken under: New York State Sick Leave Law, FMLA, New York Paid Family Leave, NY Paid Covid Sick Leave, Worker’s Compensation, and NYC Earned Safe and Sick Time Act.

Employers should review their attendance policies to ensure that it does not penalize employees for absences protected by federal, state, or local laws. Employees who believe they have been improperly penalized for an absence can bring a claim within two years of any violation and may recover lost compensation, liquidated damages, costs, attorney’s fees, reinstatement, back pay, and front pay. Employers who violate this law can face fines of up to $10,000 and up to $20,000 for subsequent violations.

Contact PMP for more information on this new law.


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