Advocacy is critical to supporting and advancing SHRM’s programs and visibility.
– SHRM Advocacy Team.

New York State Significantly Expands its Workplace Harassment Laws

On August 12, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a package of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment measures passed by the State Legislature in late June. This affects employers with any personnel based in New York and expands protection to all protected categories, rather than just victims of sexual harassment. As amended, the New York State Human Rights Law will cover employers of all sizes. This change goes into effect on February 8, 2020 for claims filed after that date.

  • The “Severe or Pervasive” Standard is No More
  • The Faragher/Ellerth Defense Becomes Unavailable
  • New York Employers May be Held Liable for Discrimination of any Kind Against a Contractor
  • Punitive Damages Will be Available
  • Attorney Fees “Shall” be Awarded to the Prevailing Party
  • The Laws Shall be Construed Liberally to Maximize Deterrence
  • Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs) Restricted for All Discrimination Cases
  • Mandatory Arbitration Clauses Prohibited for All Discrimination
  • The Statute of Limitations for Sexual Harassment Claim is Now Three Years

New York State now requires all New York employers to provide annual sexual harassment training for all employees. The annual training requirement went into effect on October 9, 2018, so all employees must be trained before October 9, 2019, and every year thereafter.

On April 25th, 2019 a federal judge announced a ruling that will require employers with 100+ employees to collect 2017 & 2018 employee pay data by race, ethnicity and gender and submit it to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by September 30th, 2019




There is no federal health insurance penalty in 2019

Through the 2018 plan year, people who did not have qualifying health coverage would have to pay a fee (sometimes called the “mandate,” “Shared Responsibility Payment,” or “penalty”) for the months they didn’t have insurance. Starting with the 2019 plan year, the fee no longer applies. If you don’t have coverage during 2019 or later, you will not be subjected to a penalty.


Proposed Changes on Out-of-Pocket Maximums and Prescription Drug Coverage

This is a proposed rule and we wait a final guidance.

The proposed rule includes:

  • Likely caps on out-of-pocket dollar limits for 2020 non-grandfathered group health plans.
  • A possible change to the definition of Essential Health Benefit that may permit some employer group health plans to impose an annual and/or lifetime dollar limit on certain brand-name prescription drugs when a generic is available.


Non-grandfathered group medical plans are likely to see an increase in the out-of-pocket maximum:

  • In 2019- $7,900 for employee only coverage and $15,800 for employee + coverage
  • In 2020-  $8,200 for employee only coverage and $16,400 for employee + coverage


Group medical plans would be able to exclude the brand name drug as an “essential health benefit” (“EHB”) if there is a generic equivalent and it is medically appropriate.

If a participant purchases a brand name drug when a generic equivalent is available, the plan could look the difference in price between the brand name drug and the generic drug in calculating the individual’s deductible and out-of-pocket. Plans would still have to count the price of the generic drug towards the individual’s deductible and out-of-pocket maximum.

Another proposal would allow a plan to exclude the entire amount that a participant paid for a brand name drug when there is a generic equivalent.

Westchester County, NY: Earned Sick Leave Law Taking Effect Soon

Westchester County, New York enacted its “Earned Sick Leave Law” (ESLL) with an effective date of  April 20, 2019. The ESLL generally requires employers with 5 or more employees in the County to accrue paid sick time at a rate of one hour for each 30 hours worked, up to a total of 40 hours per year.

▪ Employees affected – those who work in the County 80 hours or more in a calendar year, regardless of part-time, temporary, or seasonal status

▪ Permitted  for employee’s own care or care of children, spouses, registered domestic partners, parents, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, and the parents of a spouse or domestic partner

▪ Can be effective after working 90 days for the employer

▪ Workers can carry over unused sick time, but employers can still choose to limit the amount of paid sick time in a calendar year to 40 hours


New York Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA)

Effective February 24, 2019, New York State’s Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) will make it unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers based on their actual or perceived gender identity or expression or transgender status.

PFL: Governor Signs Living Donor Protection Act

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed The Living Donor Protection Act, which expands the definition of “Serious Health Condition” under Paid Family Leave to include transplantation, preparation and recovery from surgery related to organ or tissue donation.  This will allow employees to take job-protected, paid time off to care for a covered family member who donates or is preparing to donate, an organ.

A Copy a the Full Bill: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s2496/amendment/b

Salary History Ban Arrives in New York’s Suffolk County

The ban goes into effect on June 30, 2019. New York’s Suffolk County is the latest local jurisdiction to adopt legislation prohibiting employers from asking about the prior salary histories of prospective employees. The stated legislative intent of the bill is to reduce pay inequity for women and minorities.

While New York State has not enacted a salary history ban, other localities in the state that have passed salary history ban laws include New York City, Westchester County, and Albany County.

The law prohibits an employer from asking prospective employees (verbally or in writing) about his/her salary and benefits history, or to search public records or reports for such information.

Employers will need to review their hiring processes including job applications. Employers should confirm that their pre-employment background check procedures and interviews comply with the new law.


Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law is now in effect. The law allows employees to use their paid leave if they or a family member have been the victim of any act or threat of domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact, stalking, or human trafficking in order to plan their next steps and focus on safety without fear of penalty.

The amended law also expands the definition of family for whom safe and sick leave can be used to any individual whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of family. Survivors should never have to choose between their paycheck or the safety of themselves and children. Paid Safe Leave gives survivors in NYC the opportunity to take the time they need to stabilize their lives without worrying about losing their job.

Under the new law, employees can take time off to restore their physical, psychological, and economic health or that of a family member. For example, individuals can take time off to:

  • Obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program
  • Participate in safety planning, relocate, enroll a child in a new school or take other actions to protect their safety or that of their family members
  • Meet with an attorney or social service provider to obtain information and advice related to custody; visitation; matrimonial issues; orders of protection; immigration; housing; and discrimination in employment, housing, or consumer credit
  • File a domestic incident report with law enforcement or meet with a district attorney’s office

Under New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, employers with five or more employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide paid safe and sick leave to employees. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave. Accrual of safe and sick leave is at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per calendar year, and begins on employee’s first day of employment. Employees can begin using accrued leave 120 days after their first day of work. For those employers who do not frontload safe and sick leave on the first day of a new calendar year, employees must be permitted to carry over up to 40 hours of unused safe and sick leave from one calendar year to the new calendar year.

“The impact New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law will have on families is tremendous,” said Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. “This law allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and stalking to use earned sick time to take time off of work to address immediate service and safety needs. It is critical for survivors to be able to maintain their economic and employment stability while also taking important steps to secure their safety.”

For more information about employer responsibilities under NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, visit: www.nyc.gov/dca

NYC Temporary Schedule Change Law

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS) enforces NYC’s Temporary Schedule Change Law, which took effect July 18, 2018. Under the law, covered employees have a right to temporary changes to their work schedule for certain “personal events.”

  • Employers cannot punish, penalize, retaliate, or take any action against employees that might stop or deter them from exercising their rights under the law. Workers should immediately contact OLPS  (888-469-7365) about retaliation.
  • The law covers workers regardless of immigration status.

Download the NYC Temporary Schedule Change Law packet. https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dca/downloads/pdf/workers/TemporaryScheduleChange-LawPacket.pdf

Are you an employer? Know your responsibilities under the Temporary Schedule Change Law


New York Minimum Wage Increases

New York wages change occurs Dec. 31, not Jan. 1. Also, it has one of the most complicated minimum wage rate structures of any state. The minimum wage shown below is different for New York State, New York City, and downstate counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.

Effective Date Workers Employed in New York City by Businesses with 11 or More Employees Workers Employed in New York City by Businesses with 10 or Fewer Employees Workers Employed in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties Workers in the Remainder of New York State          (Upstate)
31-Dec-19 $15.00 per hour $15.00 $13.00 $11.80
31-Dec-20 $15.00 per hour $15.00 $14.00 $12.50
31-Dec-21 $15.00 per hour $15.00 $15.00 To be determined


2019 Contribution Limits

401(k) $19,000
Contributions to an IRA $6,000
HSA contribution limit(employer + employee) Self-only: $3,400

Family: $6,750

HSA catch-up contributions (age 55 or older) $1,000
HDHP minimum deductibles Self-only: $1,300

Family: $2,600

HDHP maximum out-of-pocket amounts (deductibles, co-payments and other amounts, but not premiums) Self-only: $6,550

Family: $13,100

Flexible Spending Account (FSA) $2,650
Commuter Reimbursement Account $260/month

 Legislative Connections:

Get to know your representatives so that they may call on you for assistance when an issue or problem regarding the workplace occurs. Let your representative know you can be a resource for them.

New York State:          www.ny.gov

Look Up Your Voter Registration – Find Out Who Your Representative Is!

The Legislative box is on the right side…it lists NYS Senate, NYS Assembly –these are your NYS Representatives. It also lists NY State Congressional Delegation, these are your Federal Representatives.  You can click on your Representative’s name to get their contact information. You can also send emails through this site.

Legislative updates for NYS laws can be found on the NYS Business Council’s website www.bcnys.org under Government Affairs…Government Affairs Albany Update

Suffolk County:  www.co.suffolk.ny.us

Click on Elected Officials on the left side.  Then look for Legislature….click the Legislature icon…then Offices…Legislator’s Offices. Again it will give you names/pictures and direct links to your Legislators.

Nassau County: www.nassaucountyny.gov

Click on Legislature…all are listed as pictures/names/districts…click on your Representative for contact information.

Please Note: If you call or write a letter/email to an elected official regarding an issue that SHRM supports you can earn .25 credits towards recertification. You need to keep a copy of the letter/email or document your phone conversation (Date/Time/Who).

For further information contact:

SHRM-LI Legislative Chair
Samantha Halfen, PHR, SHRM-CP


Attend our next meeting

SHRM-LI Winter Wonderland Celebration

Wednesday, December 4, 2019
6:00 – 9:30 PM
The Hamlet Golf & Country Club, Commack, NY
Click Here to Register

For further info, contact:

SHRM-LI Chapter Executive Director
Linda B. Selden-Paduano