Workshops In The New Year! Sexual Harassment – Don’t Go There!

Do you know what constitutes sexually harassing behavior in the workplace? This highly informative workshop will give you the basis for creating a worry-free working environment for your employees. It can also limit your liability in the event of a claim. Sexual harassment is a hot topic right now, don’t become another headline.

Educate, don’t litigate!

What will be covered?

Definitions of harassment and discrimination
Types of harassing behavior
Verbal, Visual, Physical, Written
Hostile Work Environment
When and where discriminatory practices occur
Retaliation
Liabilities
Company policy and responsibilities
Responsibilities and preventative measures for supervisors and managers
Employee responsibilities
How to proceed in the event of an issue or complaint

 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018                                         Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Radisson Hauppauge                                                   Holiday Inn Westbury
110 Vanderbilt Motor Parkway                                  369 Old Country Road
Hauppauge, NY 11788                                                 Carle Place, NY 11514
8-8:30am Registration                                                8-8:30am Registration
8:30-10:30am PMP Public Class                               8:30-10:30am PMP Public Class

Register Now!                                                                  Register Now!

 



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Oh, What Fun It Is To Be HR-Compliant At The Holidays!

Planning a company party this December? Holiday parties have long been a popular way to reward staff for their hard work throughout the year. But when a party includes alcohol, employers undertake certain risks. For example, employers can be subject to liability for accidents caused by inebriated employees – in some jurisdictions, that includes accidents that  occur after the party has ended. For another example, alcohol’s loosening of inhibitions can open the door to sexual harassment, even from employees who would never engage in such behavior while sober.

Below are some steps employers and their HR departments can take to minimize those risks and still enjoy a festive celebration with staff.

  1. Limit the availability of alcohol.

Instead of offering an open bar throughout the party, consider taking steps to keep the alcohol from flowing quite so freely. Offering each employee one or two drink tickets is one way to discourage excessive drinking. Having the open bar convert to a cash bar after a given period of time is another option.

  1. Do not serve minors.

It is vital that employers ensure that the venue and/or vendors serving alcohol take the laws prohibiting serving alcohol to minors very seriously. There can be no room for error when it comes to serving guests under 21 years old. Employers should also communicate to any minor employees prior to the party that sneaking “sips” from others’ glasses, attempting to use a fake ID, or any other method of obtaining alcohol at the party will subject them to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

  1. Arrange for transportation home.

Even with the most well-intentioned efforts in place to limit guests’ alcohol consumption, it is inevitable that some guests will be over the limit when they leave the party. For that reason, employers should always arrange for transportation options, such as a car or taxi service. Offering these options at the company’s expense, and ensuring that employees feel fully welcome to use them, will go a long way toward preventing driving under the influence.

  1. Serve plenty of food.

Alcohol should always be accompanied by food. Even if no dinner is being served, cocktails should always be accompanied by plenty of snacks and appetizers. Allowing employees to drink on an empty stomach is a sure recipe for disaster.

  1. Review sexual harassment policies prior to party.

The relaxed, informal atmosphere of a party, combined with the inhibition-lowering effects of alcohol, can lead some people to make comments or engage in conduct that would normally be out of character. Specifically, an employee who, in an inebriated state, thinks (or tells himself) that he is “innocently flirting” with a colleague may actually be making unwelcome, sexually charged comments that make the colleague uncomfortable, or worse. With the rash of sexual harassment reports in the news recently, it is not difficult to imagine how easily this can happen at any company, with any group of co-workers. Guard against this by reviewing the company’s sexual harassment policy in the days prior to the party with all employees, including management.

By adhering to the above guidelines, you can make your company’s holiday party a safe, fun celebration for all. Happy holidays from all of us at PMP!

 

Article Prepared by:

Lisa Skruck

Labor & Employment Law Attorney



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New York Rings in the New Year with Increased Minimum Wage

Minimum wage rates are set to increase for employees across New York State on December 31, 2017.  These increases can impact businesses of all sizes.  They vary depending on the location of the business.  In addition to the minimum wage, don’t forget about the increases to the minimum salary threshold which applies to any employees who are exempt from overtime under the executive and administrative exemptions.

The minimum wage increases are as follows:

 

Effective Date
Workers Employed in 
New York City by Businesses 
with 11 or More Employees
Workers Employed in 
New York City by Businesses 
with 10 or Fewer Employees
Workers Employed in 
Nassau, Suffolk, and 
Westchester Counties 
(“Downstate”)
Workers in the 
Remainder of New York State 
(“Upstate”)
Currently
$11.00 per hour
$10.50
$10.00
$9.70
December 31, 2017
$13.00 per hour
$12.00
$11.00
$10.40
December 31, 2018
$15.00 per hour
$13.50
$12.00
$11.10

 

In the hospitality industry, an employer may claim a tip credit against the minimum wage provided the total of tips received plus the wages paid equal or exceed the applicable minimum wage in the chart above. The chart below applies only to food service workers (e.g. servers and bartenders).  Please contact us for tip credit rates for service employees in the hospitality industry and for tipped employees outside of the hospitality industry.

 

Effective Date
Tipped Employees in 
New  York City, 
11 or More Employees
Tipped Employees in New York City, 
10 or Fewer Employees
Tipped Employees in 
Nassau, Suffolk, and 
Westchester Counties 
(“Downstate”)
Tipped 
Employees in the 
Remainder of New York State (“Upstate”)
Currently
Wages: $7.50
Tip Credit: $3.50
Wages: $7.50
Tip Credit: $3.00
Wages: $7.50
Tip Credit: $2.50
Wages: $7.50
Tip Credit: $2.20
December 31, 2017
Wages: $8.65
Tip Credit: $4.35
Wages: $8.00
Tip Credit: $4.00
Wages: $7.50
Tip Credit: $3.50
Wages: $7.50
Tip Credit: $2.90
December 31, 2018
Wages: $10.00
Tip Credit: $5.00
Wages: $9.00
Tip Credit: $4.50
Wages$ 8.00
Tip Credit: $4.00
Wages: $7.50
Tip Credit: $3.60

 

In addition to the minimum wage increase, the minimum salary for exempt employees covered by the executive and administrative exemptions increases based upon employer size and location.

 

Effective Date
Workers Employed in 
New York City by Businesses 
with 11 or More Employees
Workers Employed in 
New York City by Businesses 
with 10 or Fewer Employees
Workers Employed in 
Nassau, Suffolk, and 
Westchester Counties
(“Downstate”)
Workers in the 
Remainder of New York 
State (“Upstate”)
Currently
$825.00 per week
$787.00 per week
$750.00 per week
$727.50 per week
December 31, 2017
$975.00 per week
$900.00 per week
$825.00 per week
$780.00 per week
December 31, 2018
$1,125.00 per week
$1,012.50 per week
$900.00 per week
$832.00 per week

 

Businesses should ensure they comply with these increases in the minimum wage and salary level.  Proactive employers can utilize the planned future increases to prepare future budgets and compensation plans.  If you have any questions please contact a Human Resources Director at PMP.



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Sexual Harassment and the #MeToo Movement

Unlawful sexual harassment has recently become the most visible employment issue in America.  Though anti-discrimination laws have on the books for decades, victims are speaking out against unlawful conduct more than ever, as they should.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) statistics tell us these claims are nothing new.  Since 2010 the EEOC has received over 12,000 charges of sexual harassment each year.  The consequences of failing to address harassment claims are clear.  It results in ruined business and personal reputation, business disruption, and significant monetary damage to businesses.

With the increased focus on workplace harassment, now is the time to be proactive and ensure your business is not at risk.  What are the most important steps you should be taking?

  • Review your company’s existing anti-harassment policy;
  • Review your company’s internal harassment complaint procedure;
  • Train all employees (both supervisors and non-supervisors) on discrimination, harassment, reporting, and retaliation;
  • Ensure full, fair, and prompt investigation of all allegations of harassment and take prompt remedial action when necessary; and
  • Consistently enforce your company’s rules and policies.

As always, PMP is here to help. Our Human Resources Directors can review and draft harassment policies, train employees, and provided an independent investigation of harassment complaints.  Please contact us so we can help keep your business compliant.



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Suffolk County Living Wage Adjustment Starts January 1, Are You Ready?

Those Suffolk County employers, including contractors, subcontractors, and others receiving compensation from the County that entails that they are covered by the Suffolk County Living Wage Law should take notice that effective January 1, 2018, the living wage will increase to $12.26 per hour with health benefits, and to $13.95 per hour without health benefits.

Employers should notify employees and subcontractors of these increases in writing.

Questions about compliance with this law or any wage an hour matter? Contact an HR professional at PMP.

 

Article Prepared By:

 

 

Chief Executive Officer



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Impact Craig E. Leen will have as new director of OFCCP

Craig E. Leen has been named as the new Director of the OFCCP. This long awaited announcement now puts a face and name to Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Mr. Dean, 42, was a City Attorney for the City of Coral Gables, FL. Leen said he does not have a party affiliation and did vote for Trump in November. This will definitely have an impact on federal contractors and subcontractors. PMP discussed the anticipated impact that Mr. Deen will have in 2018 during its full day workshop on affirmative action compliance that was held on November 15th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article Prepared By:


 

Grace M. Conti
Executive Vice President




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New York City Is Expanding Its Sick Time Law To Encompass “Safe Time”

In October, the New York City Council passed a bill that will provide paid time off for employees dealing with matters related to family offenses, sexual offenses, and human trafficking. The law will go into effect 180 days after it is signed by Mayor de Blasio (date TBD).

For the past three and a half years, the New York City Earned Sick Time Act has required employers to allow employees in New York City to accrue up to five days per year of paid sick time to use when they or their family members are sick or in need of medical care.  Now, under revisions to the law, paid time off will also be available to an employee where the employee, or or a member of his or her family or household, has been a victim of a family offense, sexual offense, stalking or human trafficking. The paid time off, referred to as “safe time,” may be used for the following purposes:

(a)        to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other shelter or services program for relief from a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking;

(b)        to participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members from future family offense matters, sexual offenses, stalking, or human trafficking;

(c)        to meet with a civil attorney or other social service provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in any criminal or civil proceeding, including but not limited to, matters related to a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, human trafficking, custody, visitation, matrimonial issues, orders of protection, immigration, housing, discrimination in employment, housing or consumer credit;

(d)        to file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;

(e)        to meet with a district attorney’s office;

(f)         to enroll children in a new school; or

(g)        to take other actions necessary to maintain, improve, or restore the physical, psychological, or economic health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member or to protect those who associate or work with the employee.

Safe time will accrue at the same rate as sick time – i.e., one hour for every thirty hours worked – and will be subject to the same cap – i.e., employees are entitled to up to forty hours per year.

If you have questions about the new safe time requirements in New York City, please contact an HR professional at PMP.

 

Article Prepared by:

 

Lisa Skruck, Labor & Employment Law Attorney



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Seriously, You Guys, You Can’t Retaliate

Most employers are aware that the law prohibits retaliating against an employee for engaging in protected activity, such as complaining about discrimination/sexual harassment, seeking an accommodation for a disability, or requesting FMLA leave. Yet these same employers sometimes engage in unlawful retaliation – without recognizing that that is what they are doing.

Consider this scenario. An employer has an employee who has been a problem for some time. The employee in question – we’ll call her Penelope – is a constant complainer. She complains about everything from faulty office equipment (she doesn’t like the Xerox machine) to office hours (she feels a 9:30 start time is more realistic than 9:00), but her favorite subject to complain about is her colleagues. Penelope does not get along with Susan and complained to management that Susan is mean to her. Penelope thinks Mike is out to get her, and asked management to do something about it. Penelope requested a cubicle reassignment because her cube-mate, Janice, coughs too much.

When Penelope is up for a promotion that ultimately goes to Mike, she complains that Mike only got the promotion because he is a man. Penelope’s manager, who knows that Mike was by far the best candidate for the job, is fed up. Exasperated by Penelope and her endless complaints, the manager decides it is time to let Penelope go.

The problem here is that, unlike her prior complaints, Penelope’s final complaint constituted protected activity under the law. Penelope was complaining about gender-based wage discrimination, which is unlawful under Title VII. To the manager, the gender complaint seemed like just another baseless, petty complaint in a long line of such complaints. But because Penelope invoked discrimination this time, her final complaint was in a different category than her prior complaints – that of protected activity.

Moreover, it does not matter that the manager knew there was no actual discrimination, given Mike’s clear qualifications for the promotion. Rather, as long as Penelope had a good faith belief that she was the victim of discrimination, terminating her for making that complaint was unlawful retaliation.

So how can an employer avoid falling into this trap? First, when it is clear that an employee is not working out, when problem behaviors have persisted despite attempts to work with the employee, an employer should consider taking disciplinary action sooner rather than later. When an employer procrastinates on the decision to terminate, it is only a matter of time before the employee may do something that constitutes protected activity. Aside from complaining about discrimination, she might ask for FMLA leave, seek accommodation for a disability or religious belief, or talk to her co-workers about unionizing. As soon as she engages in such activities, the employer is in the position where any termination within a reasonable time thereafter could be alleged to be retaliatory.

Second, employers should always consult with counsel or an HR expert before taking disciplinary action against a problem employee. Such an advisor can identify any risks that may be present, and help the employer devise a plan to discipline the employee in the most risk-averse manner possible.

If you have questions about how to avoid retaliation claims, contact an HR professional at PMP.

Article Prepared by:

 

Lisa Skruck, Labor & Employment Law Attorney



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NYPFL Questions? Forms and Answers provided here!


The New York Paid Family Leave will soon come into being and as you would expect it comes with its own batch of forms.  Our job is to help make the process as simple as possible for our clients covering everything from the administration of PFL to understanding what it means to their businesses.  NY State have provided all the forms your company will need, simply click the link (below) to retrieve the forms. If you (or  your employees) need help with any aspect of PFL we’re here for you.

NY Paid Family Leave Forms

 



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Barbara DeMatteo quoted in Newsday LI Business Article

With so much change  in New York Labor & Employment legislation – particularly in relation to employee wage and benefit issues –  it’s no surprise that so many employers and employees are scratching their heads and feeling confused. Our HR Directors are often at the forefront of comment and thought leadership on everything related to HR.  Barbara DeMatteo is a regular contributor and commentator for the media and Newsday called on her again for comment in the recent article exploring “Laws on Scheduling Gaining Momentum” (October 9, 2017). Barbara is expert at distilling complex topics into ‘bite size’ parcels bringing clarity to often misunderstood subjects.  In this article she talked about new requirements for scheduling hours in advance, as well as how this presents new challenges to employers. As always Barbara did a great job and PMP continues to make their voices heard in New York!



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