Effective September 17, employers with four or more employees in New York state must include a compensation range in all advertisements for new jobs, promotions and transfer opportunities. A pay transparency fact sheet and FAQ document are available on the NYSDOL website with additional information and guidance on the new law.
New York may soon restrict employers and employment agencies from using fully-automated decision making tools to screen job candidates or make other employment decisions that impact the compensation, benefits, work schedule, performance evaluations, or other terms of employment of employees or independent contractors. Draft Senate Bill 7623, introduced August 4, aims to limit the use of such tools and requires human oversight of certain final decisions regarding hiring, promotion, termination, disciplinary, or compensation decisions. Senate Bill 7623 also significantly regulates the use of certain workplace monitoring technologies, going beyond the notice requirements for workplace monitoring operative in New York since May 2022 and introducing data minimization and proportionality requirements that are becoming increasingly common in US state privacy laws.
While there is not yet a federal law focused on AI (the Biden administration and federal agencies have issued guidance documents on AI use and are actively studying the issue), a number of cities and states have introduced bills or resolutions relating to AI in the workplace. These state and local efforts are all at different stages of the legislative process, with some paving the path for others. For example, New York City’s Local Law 144 took effect on July 5, prohibiting employers and employment agencies from using certain automated employment decision tools unless the tools have undergone a bias audit within one year of the use of the tools, information about the bias audit is publicly available, and certain notices have been provided to employees or job candidates (read more here).
If enacted, Senate Bill 7623 would take things much further. Here are some of the most significant implications of the draft legislation:Continue Reading Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: New York and Other States Have Big Plans For Employer Use of AI and Other Workplace Monitoring Tools
New York in the summer: warm days, Shakespeare in the Park, visits to the beach, and the end of the New York State legislative session–which often means a few surprises for New York employers. This summer, not only do employers have to contend with New York’s amended WARN Act regulations and the enforcement of New York City’s Automated Employment Decision Tool law (both now effective), they also have to keep a close eye on four New York State bills that have cleared both houses of the state legislature and could be signed by Governor Hochul–including one that would arguably be the nation’s broadest ban on employee noncompete agreements. We highlight two changes–and four that could be coming down the pike–New York employers should pay close attention to this summer.
Two to know
1. Amendments to New York’s WARN Act regulations now in effect.
New York State’s proposed amendments to its Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act regulations were adopted on June 21 and are now in effect. The definition of a covered employer has been expanded, remote employees must now be included in the threshold count, certain notices must include more information or be provided electronically, and exceptions for providing notice have changed (among other modifications). In addition, there’s a new York State Department of Labor WARN portal for employers to use for “a more streamlined user experience.” Want the details on the WARN Act regulation changes and some helpful tips for employers? See our prior blog here.
2. Enforcement of New York City’s Automated Employment Decision Tool law began July 5.
New York City’s Local Law 144 prohibits employers and employment agencies from using an automated employment decision tool to substantially assist certain employment decisions unless the tool has been subject to a bias audit within one year of the use of the tool, information about the bias audit is publicly available, and certain notices have been provided to employees or job candidates. Violations of the provisions of the law are subject to a civil penalty. Enforcement of the law began July 5, and employers need to be diligent. For those who haven’t done so yet, the first (and immediate) step is to take inventory of HR tech tools. Legal should partner with HR and IT to determine whether the company uses automated employment decision tools to make any employment decisions in a manner that triggers the law. See our prior blog here for additional steps to take, as well as further details on the law, penalties, and some practical tips for employers.
Four to watch
1. New York could become the fifth state to ban employee noncompetes.
On June 21, the New York State Assembly passed S3100 (already passed by the New York State Senate), which will be the most restrictive state-level ban on employers’ use of noncompetes to date if signed into law by Governor Hochul.
Under the bill, every contract that restrains anyone from engaging in a lawful profession, trade or business of any kind is void to the extent of such restraint.
The ban: The bill does not permit employers (or their agents) to “seek, require, demand, or accept a non-compete agreement” from a “covered individual.”
- A “non-compete agreement” is any agreement (or clause in an agreement) between an employer and a “covered individual” that prohibits or restricts the individual from obtaining employment after the conclusion of employment with the employer.
- A “covered individual” is “any other person” who performs work or services for another person on such terms and conditions that puts them in a position of economic dependence on and under an obligation to perform duties for that other person–regardless of whether they are employed under a contract of employment.
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) has released new guidance for employers on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in employment, this time with a focus on adverse impact under Title VII. On May 18, 2023, the EEOC released “Select Issues: Assessing Adverse Impact in Software, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence Used in Employment Selection…
Special thanks to co-presenter, Monica Kurnatowska.
The trend in increased pay equity-related reporting requirements for employers is just one reason more organizations are conducting pay equity audits to identify and correct pay variations between employees who perform similar work. The recently adopted EU Pay Transparency Directive (read more here) is one more law…
Effective April 10, covered New Jersey employers must comply with new requirements under the New Jersey mini-WARN Act. New Jersey will join New York and Maine as one of three jurisdictions where employers are required to provide 90 days’ advanced notice to affected employees. (See our prior blog here).
Key changes to NJ-WARN include the following:
- The employers covered by NJ-WARN has been expanded by the amendments, to include any employer who employs 100 or more employees, whether full-time or not (previously it required employment of 100 or more full-time employees).
- The threshold for a “mass layoff” triggering NJ-WARN has been reduced significantly. Under the amended law, a “mass layoff” means the termination of 50 or more employees at a covered establishment in a 30-day period. Previously, a mass layoff meant (i) the termination of 50 or more employees comprising 1/3 of the workforce at the establishment, or (ii) the termination of 500 or more employees.
- The scope of employees that count toward the 50-employee threshold for a “mass layoff” has been expanded:
- Both employees “at” the establishment and “reporting to” the establishment are counted, which may include remote employees in New Jersey as well as other states. Prior to the amendments, the threshold for a mass layoff included 50 or more employees “at” the establishment.
- Both part-time and full-time employees must be counted toward the threshold. Previously, only full-time employees counted toward the threshold.
- The definition of a covered “establishment” has been expanded to include a non-contiguous group of locations / facilities of an employer within the State (previously it applied to contiguous worksites / office parks of an employer). Based on the amendment’s legislative history, this appears to be aimed at retail companies with multiple locations in the State. However, it is unclear how this could apply to largely or entirely remote workforces, and how it “squares” with the inclusion of remote, out of state, employees in the 50 employee threshold.
- Covered employers will be required to provide at least 90 days’ notice (as opposed to the prior 60 days’ notice) before the first termination of employment occurs in connection with a termination or transfer of operations, or mass layoff. If the employer fails to provide 90 days’ notice, the employer is required to provide the terminated employee with four weeks of pay (which is a new requirement) in addition to statutory severance (see next bullet point).
- In addition to notice, covered employers will be required to provide severance pay equal to one week of pay for each full year of employment to each terminated employee. (Previously, the law required one week of severance pay for each year worked only if the employer failed to provide the required 60 days’ notice.)
Overall review of NJ-WARN amendments
Here’s a quick review of what will be required once the amendments take effect.
NJ-WARN applies to employers with 100 or more employees anywhere in the US, when:
- A covered establishment transfers or terminates operations which results, during any continuous period of not more than 30 days, in the termination of 50 or more employees; or
- An employer conducts a mass layoff (i.e., termination of 50 or more employees in a 30-day period) at a covered establishment.
Terminations for cause or poor performance excluded
Although NJ-WARN’s “termination of employment” definition excludes (1) voluntary departures, (2) retirement, and (3) terminations for misconduct, the statute does not clearly specify whether ordinary terminations for cause or poor performance can trigger its requirements. But our research into NJ-WARN’s legislative history strongly suggests that terminations for cause or poor performance are not covered by NJ-WARN. In the February 27, 2006 New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee hearing, NJ-WARN’s lead senate sponsor clarified that the legislation was not intended to apply to employees terminated for poor performance.
Note on aggregation
Under the new amendments, an employer whose layoff decision affects employees at multiple New Jersey worksites may be subject to NJ-WARN’s notice and severance requirements even if less than 50 employees are terminated at each individual worksite.
To determine whether a termination or transfer of operations or mass layoff is subject to NJ-WARN’s notification requirements, employers generally must aggregate any terminations of employment for two or more groups at a single “establishment” occurring within any 90-day period. If the aggregate number of terminations of all the groups is 50 or more, then the terminations are subject to NJ-WARN’s notice and severance requirements (unless the employer can demonstrate that each group’s cause of terminations is separate and distinct from the other groups’ causes). And since the definition of an “establishment” has been expanded to include an employer’s non-contiguous group of locations / facilities within New Jersey, multi-site employers should consider the aggregate impact of any layoff decision affecting multiple worksites.
NJ-WARN’s updated “mass layoff” and “establishment” definitions have also created some ambiguity regarding the statute’s application to remote employees. Specifically, a “mass layoff” now includes employees “at or reporting to” the “establishment.” And since “establishment” has been amended to include “a group of locations,” there is an argument that terminated remote employees should be counted for purposes of determining NJ-WARN applicability. But the legislative history of the NJ-WARN amendments suggests the changes were aimed at retail companies with multiple locations in New Jersey, and therefore NJ-WARN’s application to remote employees remains unclear.Continue Reading Next Month NJ Employers Must Comply With New Not-So-Mini Obligations Under Its Mini-WARN Act
It’s been a demanding year in New York for employers. New York employers have had to continuously pivot to meet obligations under new laws and requirements in 2022, with no end in sight as we step into 2023. From New York’s new electronic monitoring law, to New York City’s salary and pay range disclosure requirements, to the newly-delayed enforcement of NYC’s automated employment decision tools law (a brief sigh of relief for employers), new laws are certain to make for a busy 2023 for New York employers. Here are 10 changes employers should know now as we get the ball rolling in 2023.
1. NYC Employers Using Automated Employment Decision Tools Now Have Until April 15, 2023 to Meet New Obligations
The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) granted New York City employers a happy holiday by announcing a delay of enforcement of its automated employment decision tools law (Local Law 144 of 2021) until April 15, 2023.
Until the announcement, New York City employers who use artificial intelligence in employment decision-making were faced with new requirements beginning January 1, 2023–including a prohibition against using automated employment decision tools (AEDTs) unless they took a number of specific steps prior to doing so, not the least of which would be conducting a bias audit of their AEDTs.
On December 15, 2022, DCWP published revised proposed rules for Local Law 144, making several changes to initial proposed rules published by DCWP September 23, 2022.
The initial proposed rules defined or clarified some terms (including “independent auditor,” “candidate for employment,” and “AEDT”), set forth the form and requirements of the bias audit, and provided guidance on notice requirements.
After comments from the public on the initial proposed rules, and after a November 4, 2022 public hearing, the DCWP modified the proposed rules, with changes including:
- Modifying the definition of AEDT (according to DCWP, “to ensure it is focused”);
- Clarifying that an “independent auditor” may not be employed or have a financial interest in an employer or employment agency seeking to use or continue to use an AEDT, or in a vendor that developed or distributed the AEDT;
- Revising the required calculation to be performed where an AEDT scores candidates;
- Clarifying that the required “impact ratio” must be calculated separately to compare sex categories, race/ethnicity categories, and intersectional categories;
- Clarifying the types of data that may be used to conduct a bias audit;
- Clarifying that multiple employers using the same AEDT can rely upon the same bias audit as long as they provide historical data (if available) for the independent auditor to consider in such bias audit; and
- Clarifying that an AEDT may not be used if its most recent bias audit is more than one year old.
DCWP will hold a second public hearing on the proposed rules on January 23, 2022.
For more on the law, see our recent blog Happy Holidays! Enforcement of New York City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools Law Delayed to April 15, 2023.
2. New York Employers with “No Fault” Attendance Policies Subject to Penalties for Disciplining Employees Who Take Protected Leave
Beginning February 20, 2023, New York employers with absence control policies who discipline employees for taking protected leave under any federal, state or local law will be subject to penalties.
Signed by Governor Kathy Hochul on November 21, 2022, S1958A (which amends Section 215 of the New York Labor Law (NYLL)) targets employer policies that attempt to control employee absences by assessing points or “demerits” or docking time from a leave bank when an employee is absent, regardless of whether or not the absence is permissible under applicable law. The amendment prohibits employers in New York from taking these actions when employees take a legally protected absence. Though the law does not prohibit attendance policies that include a penalty point system, legally protected absences cannot be used to deduct from these point systems.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against any employee that makes a complaint that the employer violated the law, and violations can come with sizable penalties. In addition to enforcement by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), NYLL Section 215 provides a private cause of action for current and former employees to recover monetary damages from employers who have violated Section 215. Monetary damages include back pay, liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees in addition to civil penalties that can be issued by NYSDOL of up to $10,000 for the first violation and $20,000 for repeat violations.
- Employers who currently have policies that assess points or demerits against employees for taking absences under applicable law should review and update the policies to be compliant with the law.
- Employers should train HR professionals, managers and supervisors on the new law.
3. Employers Must Provide Pay Ranges in Job Postings under New York City Pay Transparency Law Now–and under New York State Pay Transparency Law Beginning September 17, 2023
New York City employers are already feeling the impact of having to meet the requirements of New York City’s new pay transparency law (Local Law 32 and its amendment), which went into effect on November 1, 2022. Now, employers all across New York State will also have to comply with salary transparency requirements. Governor Hochul signed New York State’s salary transparency bill (S9427A) into law on December 21, 2022. Employers should begin to prepare now for the law’s September 17, 2023 effective date.
New York City’s law requires New York City employers with four or more employees (with at least one working in New York City) to disclose salary and hourly ranges in any advertisements for jobs, promotions, or transfer opportunities. (See our prior blogs here and here–and for a deeper look at salary and pay range disclosure requirements in job postings across the US, watch our video Employers: All Eyes on Salary and Pay Range Disclosure in US Job Postings).
Similar to New York City’s law, New York State’s law also requires employers with four or more employees to include a compensation range in all advertisements for new jobs, promotions and transfer opportunities. It’s not clear at this time whether all four employees must be employed within New York State, or whether an employer is covered even if employees are located elsewhere. The New York Department of Labor (NYDOL) is authorized to promulgate regulations to clarify the law, and it is anticipated that guidance will be issued before the law’s effective date.
Employment agencies and recruiters–but not temporary employment agencies–are also covered by each law.
The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) has granted New York City employers a happy holiday, indeed. The Department just announced it will delay the enforcement of its automated employment decision tools law (Local Law 144 of 2021) until April 15, 2023, and is planning a second public hearing…
Special thanks to Bradford Newman and Stephen J. Malone, Fox Corporation.
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