Accommodations & Leave Law

California has required all employers to provide lactation breaks (unless they can show that to do so would “seriously disrupt” their operations) since 2020. The federal government caught up late last year with the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act).

PUMP Act — The Basics

Effective December 29, 2022, the PUMP Act expands workplace protections for employees with a need to express breast milk. The Pump Act amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which required employers to provide lactating non-exempt employees with reasonable break time and a private location to express milk for one year following the birth of a child.

The previous law excluded most salaried employees, and the PUMP Act expands this right to cover all employees whether exempt or non-exempt. Now employers must provide all employees a reasonable break to express milk each time the employee has a need to express milk for one year after the child’s birth.Continue Reading ICYMI: New Federal Obligations for Employers to Provide Breaks for Nursing Mothers and Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Women

As predicted, Governor Pritzker signed the “Paid Leave for All Workers Act” into law on Monday, March 13. Accordingly, beginning January 1, 2024, Illinois employers must provide most employees with a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave per year to be used for any reason at all–not just for sick leave.

The Ninth Circuit recently addressed the issue of whether an employer is required to provide pay for employees taking short-term military leave when it offers other types of short-term paid leave. In Clarkson v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., the Ninth Circuit revived a class action claiming discrimination under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) for the failure to pay short-term military leave.

What is USERRA?

USERRA—a federal law applicable to both private and public employers—provides that a service member employee is entitled to the same “rights and benefits” during a military leave as similarly situated employees on non-military leave. Under USERRA , where the benefits of comparable non-military leaves differ, the employer must give the service member “the most favorable treatment” accorded to any comparable non-military leave.Continue Reading Paid Leave For USERRA? We Recommend a Comparability Analysis

This year has started with a bang for Illinois employers. Days into 2023, the legislature passed the Paid Leave for All Workers Act (the “Act”), which would require Illinois employers to provide most employees with a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave per year to be used for any reason at all–not just for sick leave. Governor Pritzker has announced he looks forward to signing the legislation. If he does, Illinois will join Maine and Nevada and become the third state to require paid leave for employers for “any” reason. If signed, the bill will take effect January 1, 2024, and will apply to all employers with at least one employee working in Illinois.

Here’s what Illinois employers need to know now.

Who is covered–and who is not

Under the Act, an employee who works in Illinois is entitled to earn and use up to a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave (or a pro rata number of hours) during a 12- month period.

The Act looks to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act to define “employer” and “employee” (with some additions and carve-outs), but essentially applies to all employers with at least one employee in Illinois and employees in Illinois with some notable exceptions:

  • Independent contractors under Illinois law
  • Individuals who meet the definition of “employee” under the federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act or the Railway Labor Act
  • College or university students who work part time and on a temporary basis for the college at which they are enrolled
  • Individuals who work for an institution of higher learning for less than two consecutive calendar quarters and who do not have an expectation that they will be rehired by the same institution
  • Employees working in the construction industry covered by bona fide collective bargaining agreements (CBAs)
  • Employees covered by CBAs with an employer that provides services nationally and internationally of delivery, pickup and transportation of parcels, documents, and freight.

Also, the Act does not apply to any employer that is covered by a municipal or county ordinance in effect on the effective date of the Act that requires employers to give any form of paid leave to their employees, including paid sick leave or other paid leave. Thus, for instance, employers covered by the Chicago Paid Sick Leave Ordinance or Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance won’t be required to provide paid leave under the Act.

When and how paid leave accrues under the Act

Paid leave accrues for employees at the rate of one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave per 12-month period (or a greater amount if the employer chooses to provide more than 40 hours of leave).

An employee would begin to earn paid leave on their first day of their employment (or the first day of the 12-month period, see below)–or on the effective date of the Act, whichever is later.

Employees who are exempt from the overtime requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will be deemed to work 40 hours in each workweek for purposes of paid leave accrual unless their regular workweek is less than 40 hours, in which case paid leave accrues on a pro-rata basis based on the employee’s regular workweek.

The “12-month period”

The 12-month period can be any consecutive 12-month period designated by the employer in writing at the time of the employee’s hire.

The employer can change the 12-month period if the employer gives notice to employees in writing prior to the change, and the change does not reduce the eligible accrual rate and paid leave available to the employee. If the employer changes the designated 12-month period, the employer must provide employees with documentation of the balance of their hours worked, paid leave accrued and taken, and their remaining paid leave balance.

Employees can start using paid leave after 90 days of employment (or the Act’s effective date)

Employees can begin using paid leave 90 days after the commencement of their employment or 90 days following the effective date of the Act, whichever is later-but employers can allow employees to use paid leave earlier.

Employees determine how much paid leave they need to use, but employers can set a reasonable minimum increment for the use of paid leave not to exceed 2 hours per day. If an employee’s scheduled workday is less than 2 hours a day, the employee’s scheduled workday will be used to determine the amount of paid leave.Continue Reading Illinois on Verge of Requiring Employers to Provide 40 Hours of Paid Leave for “Any Purpose”

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.

Proposed Rules

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.

Employer Takeaways

  • 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.

Covered employers

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.

Continue Reading Top 10 New York Employment Law Updates: Closing Out 2022 and Heading Into 2023

Summer in Chicago always brings welcome change, but the end of the Illinois legislative session in the spring can mean a flurry of new obligations in the summer for Illinois employers. This year is no exception. We highlight five changes Illinois employers should be aware of as they prepare their workforce for this summer and beyond.

  1. The Illinois CROWN Act makes workplace hair discrimination illegal

On June 29, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (“CROWN Act”) into law, banning race-based hair discrimination by employers in Illinois. Specifically, the CROWN Act, which is effective January 1, 2023, expands the definition of “race” under the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) to include “traits associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.” Though a similar law, Illinois SB 817, was signed into law in August 2021, it only prohibited schools from issuing policies on hairstyles historically associated with race or ethnicity. The CROWN Act, expands the protection by prohibiting race-based hair discrimination in employment, housing, financial transactions and public accommodations.

Illinois and 16 other states (including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington) and several municipalities have enacted similar CROWN laws. In addition, the US House of Representatives passed a federal CROWN Act in March of this year which would make hair discrimination illegal in all 50 states if passed, but the bill has not yet been approved by the Senate.

What should Illinois employers do now?

Illinois employers should:

  • Revise employee handbooks, with a particular focus on grooming policies, to ensure they emphasize compliance under the CROWN Act.
  • Train managers / supervisors, HR and employees on the CROWN Act to mitigate the possibility of race-based hair or trait discrimination under the CROWN Act and other applicable anti-discrimination laws.
  1. New sexual harassment prevention obligations for Chicago employers

On April 27, 2022, the Chicago City Council passed Substitute Ordinance 2022-665, amending the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance and creating new obligations for Chicago employers relating to sexual harassment prevention. The amendments became effective July 1, 2022.

Here are the key changes Chicago employers need to know:

New written policy requirements

Employers must have a written policy prohibiting sexual harassment as of July 1, 2022. The written policy must include:

  • The definition of sexual harassment in Section 6-10-020, which has been revised to specifically include sexual misconduct: “any (i) unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature; or (ii) requests for sexual favors or conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, or (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for any employment decision affecting the individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment; or (iii) sexual misconduct, which means any behavior of a sexual nature which also involves coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position.”
  • A statement that sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago, as well as a statement that retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago.
  • Examples of sexual harassment.
  • Details on how an employee can report an allegation of sexual harassment, including, as appropriate, instructions on how to make confidential reports (with an internal complaint form) to managers, corporate headquarters, human resources, or other internal reporting processes.
  • Information about legal services, including governmental agencies, available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment.

The written policy must be made available to employees within their first calendar week of starting employment, in the employee’s primary language.

The Chicago Commission on Human Relations (the “Commission”) has provided model sexual harassment policies in several languages on its website.

New training requirements

The written policy also must include a requirement that all employees participate in annual sexual harassment prevention training–and employers are required to mandate their employees participate in the trainings beginning July 1, 2022, meaning that by June 30, 2023 all employees must receive their first round of required annual training. Specifically:

  • All employees must participate in a minimum of one hour of sexual harassment prevention training annually
  • Supervisors / managers must participate in a minimum of two hours of sexual harassment prevention training annually
  • All employees must also participate in a minimum of one hour of bystander training annually

The State of Illinois model sexual harassment prevention training program, which provides one hour of training, is sufficient for the sexual harassment prevention training for employees. In addition, training templates and materials for the additional hour of training (for supervisors / managers) and for the hour of bystander training have been made available to employers on the Commission’s website.

New notice requirements

Effective July 1, 2022, all employers are required to conspicuously display–in at least one location where employees commonly gather–posters, both in English and in Spanish, designed by the Commission about the prohibitions on sexual harassment. The posters are available for download on the Commission’s website.

Recordkeeping requirements

Employers must keep a record of the employer’s written policy prohibiting sexual harassment, trainings given to each employee, and records demonstrating compliance for at least five years–or for the duration of any claim, civil action, or pending investigation relating to the law, whichever is longer. If employers fail to maintain the records, a presumption is created that the employer is in violation of the law (rebuttable only by clear and convincing evidence).

Longer statute of limitations, longer notification period for the Commission, and penalties

Employees now have a 365 day statute of limitations (instead of 300 days) to report all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment. In addition, after receiving a report of an alleged violation, the Commission has 30 days to notify a respondent (increased from 10 days)–which, according to outreach materials on the amendments, is intended to mitigate retaliation such as denial of a reasonable accommodation request.

Any employer who violates the written policy, training or notice requirements is subject to a fine of between $500-$1000 per day, per offense.

What should Chicago employers should do now?

  • Review sexual harassment prevention training programs for timing and content to ensure they comply with the new law.
  • Determine rollout procedures to ensure all employees receive training before June 30, 2023.
  • Train HR on the new amendments, including recordkeeping requirements.
  • Visit the Commission’s website for helpful model materials.

Continue Reading Illinois Employer Summer Checklist: 5 Recent Changes You Should Know

Special thanks to presenter Melissa Allchin.

The possibility of putting COVID-19 in our collective rearview mirrors grows every day. But before we declare the pandemic over, our Labor & Employment and Immigration lawyers discuss the key items employers should keep in mind as we head towards the pandemic’s exit, including:

  • contact

Illinois employers have a plethora of new laws to keep up with for 2022. From new Chicago and Cook County patron vaccination orders, to new laws limiting restrictive covenants, to pay data reporting (and more!), new Illinois laws are certain to make for a busy 2022 for Illinois employers. Here are 10 changes employers should know now as we get the ball rolling in 2022.

  1. Chicago and Cook County Vaccination Orders Require Some Employers to Check Vaccination Status of Employees and Require Testing for Unvaccinated Employees

Employers at restaurants, bars, gyms, and other establishments in Chicago and Cook County have already started scrambling to implement patron vaccination requirements–and requirements that they obtain the vaccination status of their employees and require weekly testing for employees who aren’t fully vaccinated. As of January 3, 2022, Mayor Lightfoot’s Public Health Order 2021-2 and the Cook County Department of Public Health’s Public Health Order 2021-11  took effect. Under the Orders, covered businesses (including establishments where food and beverages are served, gyms and fitness venues, and entertainment and recreation venues in areas where food and beverages are served) must:

  • Turn away patrons age 5 and over entering the indoor portion of an establishment unless they show a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or an official immunization record (or a photo of the same) from the jurisdiction, state, or country where the vaccine was administered, reflecting the person’s name, vaccine brand, the date(s) administered and full vaccination status (two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). There are certain narrow exceptions, such as allowing individuals inside for 10 minutes or less to carry out food or use the bathroom
  • Post signage informing patrons of the vaccination requirement
  • Develop and maintain a written record of the protocol for implementing and enforcing the Orders’ requirements

While covered businesses that are employers do not have to require employees to be vaccinated, they must:

  • determine the vaccination status of each employee by requiring each vaccinated employee to provide acceptable proof of vaccination status (including whether the employee is fully or partially vaccinated), and maintain a record of each employee’s vaccination status; and
  • require COVID-19 testing for employees who are not fully vaccinated. Employees who are not fully vaccinated and who report at least once every 7 days to a workplace where there are others present must be tested for COVID-19 at least once every 7 days and must provide documentation of the most recent COVID-19 test result to their employer no later than the 7thday following the date on which the employee last provided a test result.

Employers with 100 or more employees must also comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Emergency Temporary Standard (OSHA ETS), at least for now. The US Supreme Court heard oral argument on whether to block the ETS at a special January 7 session, but until the Supreme Court issues its ruling, the ETS stands, requiring employers with at least 100 employees to implement and enforce a policy that mandates employees to be fully vaccinated or to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing and mask-wearing. For more on the Chicago and Cook County Orders and the OSHA ETS, see our blog here.Continue Reading Illinois Employers: Ten Top Developments for 2022

On December 15, New York City released guidance on the new private sector COVID-19 vaccine mandate set to take effect on December 27. The new order is the strictest in that nation and comes amid omicron’s emergence, delta’s severity and the holiday season. Below, we provide answers to the key questions NYC employers may have to ensure compliance with the mandate.

Which NYC employers are covered by the mandate?

The mandate applies to any non-governmental entity that employs more than one person in NYC or maintains or operates a workplace in NYC (a Covered Entity), regardless of its industry. “Workplace” is defined as any place where work is performed in the presence of another worker or a member of the public, including vehicles. Self-employed individuals and sole proprietors are not covered by the mandate unless they work at a NYC workplace or interact in person with other workers or members of the public as part of their job duties.

What workers are covered?

Employers must collect proof of vaccination from all full- or part-time employees, interns, volunteers, or contractors. The mandate includes exemptions for those who:

  1.  Work remotely full-time
  2. Only enter the workplace for a quick and limited purpose,
  3. Are performing artists or athletes who are not required to be vaccinated per the Key to NYC program, or
  4. Are granted a reasonable accommodation based on their religion or medical condition.

Purposes characterized as “quick and limited” include using the bathroom, making a delivery, or receiving an assignment before leaving to begin a solitary assignment.Continue Reading NYC Mandates the Jab for Private Employers | What Employers Need to Know About the Detailed Guidance Unveiled December 15

As companies call employees back to the physical workplace, more employers are electing to implement mandatory vaccination policies to keep employees safe amidst the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. In turn, some employees are seeking accommodations, asserting that disabilities or religious beliefs prevent them from being vaccinated. Employers should develop consistent standards for handling