State Laws Muddle Large Employers’ Quest For Consistency

May 23, 2022 – Media Mention

Carol Goodman, co-chair of Herrick's Litigation Department and chair of the firm's Employment Practice, spoke to Law360 about differing state and federal laws regarding harassment and wages and how employers with a nationwide footprint can navigate this challenge. 

The article noted that, since 2017, New York has passed several reforms concerning sexual harassment in the workplace. Carol explained that sexual harassment laws are state specific, noting that the annual training requirements and other legal obligations in New York have been in effect for several years now. She reflected that companies have found that generic handbooks don't do the trick and that they need to have policies that "have specific nuances depending on the state that applies" lest they be caught off guard regarding compliance.

Carol noted that New York's sexual harassment requirements are an example of a legal obligation that might prompt employers to include an addendum in a handbook policy that supplements their broader national policy, which "would not be a one-pager." She advised, "The New York City Commission on Human Rights and the New York [State] Division of Human Rights each have a lot of information that they publish on the training and also on what you would need to distribute to employees [about] sexual harassment prevention."

The article highlighted that New York has completely phased in Paid Family Leave Law (PFL), in which workers in New York can receive three months of job-protected paid leave at 67 percent of their weekly salary up to the state's average weekly wage, which is currently almost $1,600. That translates to a maximum weekly benefit of about $1,068, according to the article. 

Carol explained, "New York passed the [PFL] and that is protected time off for a parent for 12 weeks and the pay is through a disability insurance company... So, if a company has employees in New York, they have to be knowledgeable about the parental leave laws."

Read the full article in Law360 here. Access may require a subscription.