March 2008

New York – More Protections for New York Employees

Holland & Knight Newsletter
Loren Lee Forrest Jr.

Blood Donation Leave

New York Labor Law now requires both public and private employers with 20 or more employees at one or more work sites to provide employees who work at least 20 hours per week with leave so they can donate blood. Covered employers are required to grant no fewer than three hours of leave time to each covered employee to donate blood in any 12-month period.

The law explicitly provides that this leave is in addition to any leave available under any other state or federal law. The law is silent as to whether the leave is unpaid or paid, but employers should not deduct from the salary of exempt employees, as such a deduction could destroy their exempt status.

New Restrictions on Criminal Inquiries

New York recently significantly limited employers’ ability to inquire about or make employment decisions based upon an employee’s past criminal history. Employers may not inquire into nor make any adverse employment decision based upon a criminal conviction that has been sealed pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law. Previously, employers in New York were allowed to inquire into an applicant’s or employee’s conviction record regardless of whether those convictions had been sealed. This amendment to the New York Executive Law protects applicants as well as current employees. Employers may still inquire about applicants’ and employees’ pending arrests and criminal prosecutions.

Penalties for Meal Break and Rest Period Violations

New York Labor Law, sections 161 and 162, require employers to provide certain employees with at least one day of rest every week and to give employees a minimum amount of time for meal breaks (60 minutes for factory workers and 30 minutes for other employees). Recent amendments to these laws subject employers to severe fines for non-compliance with these requirements. Now, in addition to possible criminal penalties, these labor laws provide for administrative fines up to $1,000 for the first offense, $2,000 for the second, and $3,000 for the third offense and any subsequent offenses.

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