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Amidst several divided opinions handed down last week, the Supreme Court released a unanimous decision in Groff v. DeJoy, a case concerning the obligation of employers to provide religious accommodations to employees. The Court held that an employer may deny an employee’s religious accommodation request on the basis of “undue hardship” only if it can show that the accommodation would result in “substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business.” The Court’s decision is significant, as employers of all sizes are often confronted with religious accommodation requests; perhaps most commonly to allow time off for religious observance or to modify dress codes and grooming policies.Continue Reading SCOTUS Raises the Bar for Employers Seeking to Prove that a Religious Accommodation Would Cause Undue Hardship

On May 26, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams signed into law Intro 209-A, which amends the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to include a prohibition against discrimination in employment, housing and places of public accommodations based on a person’s actual or perceived height or weight. The amendment will take effect on November 22, 2023.

In the employment context, New York City employers and labor organizations generally will not be able to consider height or weight in deciding whether to take action with respect to any person. For example, these characteristics may not be considered in an employer’s decision to hire, terminate, demote or discipline someone. It will also be unlawful for an employer to subject someone to a hostile work environment on the basis of their actual or perceived height or weight.Continue Reading Discrimination Based on Height or Weight Now Unlawful in New York City

On May 30, 2023, General Counsel to the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued a memorandum (“Memo”) informing its regional offices of the agency’s current stance on the enforceability of employee non-competition agreements. In brief, the NLRB’s position is that most non-competes imposed against non-supervisory employees violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The Memo is the latest effort by the Federal Government to curb employers’ reliance on non-competes following the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed ban of these clauses earlier this year.Continue Reading Most Non-Competes Violate Federal Law According to NLRB General Counsel

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) will take effect on June 27, 2023. The law seeks to close long-standing gaps in the protections afforded to pregnant workers under other federal laws. The rights created by the statute are especially important for employees who live in jurisdictions without state or local laws requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant persons.

Although New York employers have been required to provide reasonable accommodations for “pregnancy-related conditions” under state law since 2015, it is nonetheless important for New York businesses to understand that employees will soon have a federal right of action for violations of the PWFA. Continue Reading An Overview of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

As discussed in our previous blog, New York recently enacted a Compensation Transparency Law (CTL) that is set to take effect on September 17, 2023. Generally speaking, the law will require employers to disclose salary ranges in advertisements for job, promotion and transfer opportunities.

On March 3, 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul signed off on a series of amendments to the CTL, which are summarized below.Continue Reading New York Amends Compensation Transparency Law in Advance of Effective Date

On the evening of September 25, 2008, federal regulators seized Washington Mutual (“WaMu”) in what was, and still is, the largest bank failure in United States history. The government immediately sold virtually all of WaMu to J.P. Morgan Chase (“Chase”), at which point Chase took control of all of WaMu’s branches and deposits, and became the employer of WaMu’s more than 43,000 workers.

In the ensuing months, WaMu’s headquarters, which were in Washington, were shuttered and its operations were moved to Chase’s New York headquarters and other locations throughout the country. Many WaMu branches were closed rather than rebranded as Chase locations. While some employees initially stayed on with Chase, thousands were laid off. Others were offered bonuses to remain with Chase temporarily for a transition period.Continue Reading What’s Next for Employees of Failed Banks?

It is not uncommon for employers to offer departing employees a severance package in exchange for their signature on a separation agreement. The employer’s primary goal in doing so is often to secure a release of all claims the departing employee may have. But some employers want to impose other obligations on departing employees, like commitments to refrain from disparaging the employer or disclosing information about the employer/the agreement itself. Their ability to do so was recently limited by the decision of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in McClaren McComb.Continue Reading NLRB Restricts Inclusion of Non-Disclosure and Non-Disparagement Provisions in Severance Agreements

Many employment contracts contain non-competition clauses. There has long been a body of case law limiting the enforceability of these restrictive covenants in New York. For example, under the so-called BDO Seidman test, a non-compete provision is only enforceable if it is no greater than required to protect the legitimate business interests of the employer, does not impose undue hardship on the employee, and is not injurious to the public. See generally BDO Seidman v. Hirshberg, 93 N.Y.2d 382 (1999).

The BDO Seidman test and other judicially created rules governing non-competition clauses may soon fall by the wayside. On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a proposed rule (PR) that would largely ban non-competition provisions throughout the United States. The PR follows an executive order issued by President Biden on July 9, 2021, which urged the FTC to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility.”Continue Reading What Employers Should Know About the FTC’s Proposed Ban on Non-Competition Clauses