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 provide an independent investigation of harassment complaints.  Please contact us so we can help keep your business compliant.

 

Article Prepared By:

Brian Shenker, Labor & Employment Law Attorney



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Sexual Harassment and the #MeToo Movement

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



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Suffolk County Living Wage Adjustment Starts January 1, Are You Ready?

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




Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Impact Craig E. Leen will have as new director of OFCCP

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



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on New York City Is Expanding Its Sick Time Law To Encompass “Safe Time”

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



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Seriously, You Guys, You Can’t Retaliate

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

 



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on NYPFL Questions? Forms and Answers provided here!

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!



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Barbara DeMatteo quoted in Newsday LI Business Article

Mary Simmons Recognized as Top 50 Women in Business by LIBN

On Thursday October 19th, Mary Simmons – HR Director – was named one of the top 50 women in business by the LIBN.  The prestigious event was hosted Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, which thanks to unseasonably warm weather included a wonderful cocktail hour around the outdoor pool.

Long Island Business News’ Top 50 Women in Business program (launched in 2000) recognizes the top women professionals in the areas of business acumen, mentoring and community involvement. The program’s honorees are selected by a committee and receive a unique crystal memento at the elegant dinner attended by more than 600 of the Island’s top business leaders, and represent the most influential women in business, government and the not-for-profit fields.

Supported by her family, friends and numerous colleagues, we were also joined by some of our friends from SilvermanAcampora.  Anthony Acampora (Partner-In-Charge), Keith Frank (Partner) and Joanne Bloomfield (President of The Marketing Boutique and SA’s Marketing Director) were there to support Mary.  Awesome job Mary!

 



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Mary Simmons Recognized as Top 50 Women in Business by LIBN

Mary Simmons Presents at the AGC’s Construction HR and Training Professionals Conference

The AGC Construction HR and Training Professionals Conference, which this year took place in Phoenix Arizona (October 11-13), is an industry leading event and one that people from all over the country fly in to attend.  This year our own Mary Simmons was a presenter to a packed house while she discussed how to use social media in the recruitment process. Mary continually speaks at engagements around the country; her reputation as a leading HR practitioner and public speaker is well deserved.

 



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Mary Simmons Presents at the AGC’s Construction HR and Training Professionals Conference

Republican-Led NLRB Likely to Change Obama-Era Policies

For the first time in years the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), is back under Republican control with the swearing in of William Emanuel on September 26, 2017.  With a Republican majority, we will likely see sweeping change in NLRB decisions and policy over the next few years.  The new majority will be able to reverse many Obama-era rulings and pave the way for more business-friendly NLRB policies.

At the top of the list for the majority Republican NLRB Board will be issues including joint employment, quickie elections, and other rulings that have changed the legal landscape for employers.  Below are some of the more impactful changes we expect to see in the coming years.

Joint Employment

In 2015, a majority Democrat NLRB Board expanded the standard for determining what companies qualify as joint employers that share in unfair labor practice liability.  The decision faced fierce criticism from the business community.  The NLRB will likely reverse this decision and return to traditional standards of joint liability that are less expansive.  Employers that are franchisees or a part of a network of businesses certainly will look forward to this change.

Lutheran Heritage Decision

The 2004 Lutheran Heritage decision predates President Obama, but is still a likely target for the Republican-majority Board.  In that decision the NLRB determined that work rules and employee handbook provisions are unlawful if employees would reasonably construe them to prohibit protected concerted activities under the National Labor Relations Act.  Following that decision, the Board has ruled that many commonplace handbook policies run afoul of the NLRA since they have a chilling effect on employees engaging in protected concerted activity.  In the aftermath of Lutheran Heritage, the NLRB involved itself with many private, non-union employers.  We expect a substantial claw-back from that type of NLRB activism.

Quickie Union Elections

In 2015, the NLRB took a rare step and issued a number of changes to NLRB election procedures that streamlined the process for union election campaigns.  The rule is often referred to as the “ambush election rule,” as it cut short the time for employers to make their case to workers about unionization.  Previously, employers were given significantly more time to wage a campaign to oppose unionization.  We will likely see a return to the previous standard, allotting more time to employers.

“Micro” Bargaining Units

In a related area, the Board is likely to retreat from recent decisions (such as Home Health Care), that permit unions to organize distinct groups of employees, permitting unions to get a foot in the door by selecting the group most interest in unionization.  The likelihood is that the Board will revert to previous standards giving the employer more opportunities to expand a proposed unit, so long as there is a community of interested among the employees.

Article Prepared By:

Brian Shenker, Labor & Employment Lawyer



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment