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Legal Update - September 2019 Newsletter

Yogi Patel - Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Dear valued clients and supporters: This month's newsletter will focus on sweeping changes in New York State to 1) Human Rights Law and 2) Landlord-Tenant Law

Expansive Amendments to NYS Human Rights Law
Earlier this year and again this month, Governor Cuomo signed into law a vast array of changes to the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL") designed to expand protections for employees against discrimination. The overall goal of the updates is to bring the NYSHRL in line with the more progressive New York City Human Rights Law, directing courts to take a more liberal and broad interpretation of the NYSHRL and lowering the standard of proof for establishing a claim for discrimination or harassment. The statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims was increased from 1 to 3 years and employers are now restricted in their ability to include confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements with employees over sexual harassment claims without the employee's consent. Additionally, under the updated NYSHRL, claimants will be able to recover punitive damages and an award of attorneys' fees against private employers. Finally, non-employees will be able to recover against companies they provide services to for any form of discrimination. Employers should consult with counsel to ensure their policies and procedures are in line with the myriad of changes and employees should learn more about their new protections under state law.


Sea Change In Landlord-Tenant Law
This past June, state lawmakers passed legislation that radically changed a multitude of laws in an effort to provide greater security and protection for tenants. The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA) not only made rent regulation permanent (the old statute was set to expire), but it also severely limited the ways in which and the amounts that landlord could increase regulated rents. Previously, where the legal rent for a regulated apartment exceeded a certain threshold, landlords could remove the apartment form regulation; this is no longer the case as the "high-rent vacancy" deregulation provision has been eliminated. Additionally, where tenants are receiving "preferential rents" (rents that are lower than the maximum a landlord could legally charge), tenants will now be entitled to pay a preferential rent for the duration of their tenancy, subject to lawful increases. Previously, landlords could raise the rent back up to the legal maximum any time the lease was renewed.


Readers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@lloydpatelllp) and Facebook to receive updates on these and other issues throughout the month.

 

 

 

Legal Update - March 2019 Newsletter

Yogi Patel - Friday, March 08, 2019

Dear valued clients and supporters: This month's newsletter will focus on 1) new guidance issued on discrimination based on hairstyle in NYC; 2) possible legislation in NYC impacting fast food employers and employees; and 3) immigration status and employment law.

Hairstyle Discrimination Banned in NYC
In February 2019, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued groundbreaking legal guidance advising that employers who have restrictive hairstyle policies are likely violating New York City Human Rights Law's protections against discrimination in the workplace. In conjunction with presenting extensive background information and context, the Commission explained that hairstyle restrictions had a disproportionate impact on non-white ethnic groups who are often required to go so far as to manipulate the natural condition of their hair to be in compliance with work place policies. Extensive guidance is now available on the Commission's website and employers are advised to amend any existing policies accordingly.

 

Possible protections from termination for fast-food employees
New York City Council introduced a new bill in February which, if passed, will prohibit a fast food employer from laying off an employee without a bona fide economic reason. The legislation defines a “bona fide economic reason” as the full or partial closing of operations or technological or organizational changes to the business resulting in the reduction in the volume of production, sales, or profit. If an employer has a “bona fide economic reason” for a layoff, the layoff must be conducted on a “last in, first out” basis — in reverse order of seniority according to the length of service of employees in the establishment where the termination is to occur. Employees senior in length of service must be retained the longest and reinstated first. The bill specifies how to compute the length of service and accounts for military service, illness, and other absences. This proposed bill will significantly change the "at-will" doctrine, which currently governs the employer-employee relationship in the fast-food industry. We will continue tracking this bill and provide additional details and guidance as it makes its way through the legislative process.

 

Immigration Status and Employment Law
Many employees who work in the US on a variety of visas often have questions about the impact their immigration status may have on their rights as employees. To address some of these issues, we co-authored an article with our colleague Steve Maggi, Esq (an immigration attorney). We encourage our readers, especially those who are working in the US on a visa or employers who frequently hire foreign workers, to read this article which is now available on our website.

Readers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@lloydpatelllp) and Facebook to receive updates on these and other issues throughout the month.

 



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